When newer authors ask me for advice, which they sometimes do, apparently laboring under the notion that I know what I’m doing, they often ask if they really truly have to write every day.
It’s funny, because I remember asking that very same question, in the neighborhood of 15 years ago. I was at a writers’ weekend retreat and someone asked our esteemed visiting writer guy about his writing schedule. He said he got up every day at 5am and wrote for two hours. That he had to. to get it done. I ended up being the voice of “really? truly, EVERY day?” He said, with rare exceptions, really, truly.
I didn’t want to hear it.
It’s not welcome news.
Someone said on Twitter just the other day that she was considering getting up at 4:30am to get her writing done, but was dragging her feet. I replied that I did it for two years and it worked. She said, wasn’t I exhausted? I said, yes, at first. Then I got used to it. It was the only time of day I could be sure to write every day and it totally worked.
I’m not convinced that, for true writing productivity – especially creating something new – anything else does work.
I rediscover this periodically. This last week I’ve been getting back into drafting The Middle Princess. After an extended spell of revisions on several different works, I’m composing again. I’d gotten about 26K into this novel when I had to set her aside. I figured she was well on her way, with good momentum. She’d wait for me.
Oh no no no.
Frankly, for the last week? She’s been a sulky bitch.
That’s the hardest part of writing, I think. When every word put down is a day’s labor. When you work for two hours and get 250 words. Being in that place is the polar opposite of everything we love best about writing. It’s the 40 years in the desert. It’s traversing the Fire Swamp, only less interesting. And like those travails, I truly believe there is only one way through it.
It’s tempting to think, oh, something’s wrong – that’s why it’s not working. Or, I’ve written myself into a corner, that’s why I feel stuck. Even if those things are true, you still have to keep writing. Delete and write. Or rework and write. Or skip and write. But the one answer is always the same.
Keen readers will note which thing that is.
And yes. It has to be every day.
Finally, yesterday, after a week of agonizing through my 1K/day workout, the story started to flow again. It’s like the ice breaking up on the river. I’m not riding the rapids in glee yet, but at least I’m not chipping away at frozen stuff.