Writing advice

From Black Gate:

Any aspiring writer can tell you of the plethora of advice out there for those who are starting their writing journey, much of it contradictory. … Let’s take a piece of oft-delivered piece of writing wisdom: Write every day.

Fairly simple and innocuous, right? Well, not so much.  What if I told you that it is actually quite ableist, and not a little classist?

Let’s tackle the ableist issue first.  For someone labouring under a chronic or even short-term issue, just getting out of bed on any given day requires a great deal of effort. The amount of effort required to put words down on the page, no matter what someone might be suffering, is not a labour that the abled people are expected to perform.  It sometimes simply takes a monumental effort. …

…With just a little thought, it is clear that a familiar piece of writing “wisdom” isn’t nearly so wise as it appeared at first glance.  A better piece of writing advice, to my ind, would be: Write when you can, if you can.

This caught my eye because I hate the advice “Write every day,” rather too often phrased a little more harshly as, “Real writers write every day,” or “If you want to succeed as a writer, you must write every day.”

It’s not just the ableist thing, though in fact I do know more than a couple authors who struggle with various conditions that make it difficult to write. Nor the classist implications, though that’s also a good point.

But besides those concerns, isn’t it obvious that all kinds of various complications can suddenly rise up and derail your life? Imagine a gung-ho author who normally does write every day, but her mother just died. Or her daughter just had a baby. Or anything big and important just happened. Obviously there is nothing remotely unusual or wrong with the author taking a break from writing while catching up with life, even if she normally actually likes to write every single day.

And besides all that, the advice is also just plain wrong.

Lots of writers do not write every day. I personally either write a lot every day or else, and this is the important part, I’m taking a break and not writing at all. It just kind of annoys me to hear the constant drumbeat of you-must-write-every-day from all sides. I once saw every panelist on a panel agree with this statement. Yep! You have to write every day!

Too bad I wasn’t on that panel, because surely someone in the audience would have been glad to hear that this is not true.

Anyway — read the whole post, of which I abstracted only a smallish part.

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