If you want to write something—a novel, a short story, an article—you have to write. It sounds ridiculously simple, but the simplest things are often not easy (try roasting the perfect chicken sometime). With our busy lives, children, jobs, hobbies, TV, it’s hard to carve out the time to… Just. Write.
Some people tell themselves they can’t write unless they feel inspired, but Picasso is quoted as saying, “Inspiration does exist, but it must find you working.” Picasso went on to create some 1800 paintings as well as more than 1200 sculptures, 2800 ceramics, and even thousands of tapestries and rugs. If he had “waited for inspiration,” he wouldn’t have created half that.
Write every day. Inspiration will come. So will suckiness. But that’s OK. Good writing is 10% writing and 90% revision. And you can’t revise something if you don’t have something on the page to start with.
Jane Yolen and other writers call it BIC: butt in chair. Sometimes, BIC HOK: butt in chair, hands on keyboard (do a search and you’ll find dozens of blogs that have taken that idea to heart by using the phrase in their titles). Professional writers, authors, people who publish material over and over and over again, they write every single day.
Write every day. Set a goal. Some writers choose to write for a certain amount of time each day, even as little as 15 minutes. (Laurie Halse Anderson is running a Write Fifteen Minutes a Day challenge on her blog for the month of August. It’s not too late to join in.) Some writers set a page or word count. Write 500 words a day; write 10 pages a day.
Start small (250 words a day), but write every day.
Getting the idea yet? Yeah, I’ve heard it before too. But how do we “find the time” to write? (It’s something I struggle with.) I posted recently on LHA’s blog about what it took to find the time and I realized it wasn’t about finding the time, it was about prioritizing writing.
Certain things ALWAYS get done, no matter how busy we are. Paying the bills, making dinner, working out, playing Sudoku. Whatever it is that we always get done, THAT’S what we are prioritizing. It’s time to shake up our lists of To Dos and put writing at the top. If you find you are always playing FarmVille, well, maybe it’s time to make writing more important than that. Write first. FarmVille second.
Another thing: I find many people don’t write because they are scared their writing will suck. Or, less harshly, their writing will not be perfect. Step back from perfection. Strive for excellence instead. Excellence comes from revision, not writing.
Write first. Give yourself permission to suck. Get words on the page that you can revise LATER. Write NOW.
What? You’re still reading? I said, Go! Write! Come back later and report in the Comments if you met your goal. Or share your tips for finding the time. Good luck!