Thursday, January 17, 2013

Forget the Timetable: We're Not a Swiss Train

I’m pissed off. DO YOU HEAR ME, BLOGOSPHERE? PISSED OFF! Here’s why. I was on Twitter (yes, when I should’ve been writing) and ran across this tweet by the online editor at Writer’s Digest.

If you can’t carve out at least a short portion of your day to dedicate to writing,
then you aren’t serious about finishing a manuscript.

My first thought was “Where do you get off?”
My second thought was that he was trying to pick a fight.

Finally, I decided he was channeling my subconscious, which knocks, knocks, knocks daily with the same message. “You’re not a REAL writer if you can’t get up at 5 a.m. and write for an hour, or come home after work and write instead of watching Wheel of Fortune. You should’ve finished the damn manuscript weeks ago. Remember your plan to write throughout Thanksgiving break and instead, you baked!”

So, maybe I’m mostly pissed at myself. More like disappointed. But enough finger-wagging.

Here’s the rub: a lot of writers feel this same way. And we make it worse by reading about other writers and their craft and their writing schedules and their successes. We refuse to believe that it’s okay to write a book in six months by only writing on Fridays and sometimes a Sunday or two. We find any reason to belittle our “process” because it makes the sting of rejection feel justified.

So, let’s rewrite that editor’s post using a different shaming example.

If you can’t carve out at least a short portion of your day to dedicate to exercise,
then you aren’t serious about being healthy.

Can we agree that’s a load of hooey? Then let’s agree that we all have our processes, our timetables, our high-energy days and our low-energy days. And the sweetest freedom is choosing when we create.

1 comment:

  1. I'm taking a Gotham workshop and the discussion came up about what to do when confounded by plot--one person said he exercises, one said she writes something else entirely, one particularly lucky person found solutions in dreams. I about fell out of my chair, though, when I read one person admit she procrastinates. If I did that, my habit of writing would fade then fizzle completely. BUT THAT'S JUST ME!!! I've read too many articles that tell me I should do this, don't do that. Will I still read those blogs/articles/lectures? Sure, but only so I can try something new to see if it works for me and either incorporate it into my writing or not. No guilt. No fuss. No recriminations.