Reader, I’ve been wanting to place a caveat around this post, where in inspiring language, Hope Clark encouraged us to take a stand and do this writing thing: “no matter what, regardless of what others think, until you learn it better, every day, until you die.”
I have a little bone to pick with the “every day” part of that. Here’s what I do every day: brush my teeth, drink my coffee, feed my kids. Beyond that, all other activities are optional. I confess, I do not write every day. In fact, I have never written every day, nor do I think I will any time soon.
I think we can waste a lot of energy feeling guilty about not writing (or fill in the blanking from your life’s work) every day.
Now, if you have the time and inclination to write every day, I say go for it! But for most of us, our days are not that wide open. Not only that, I think some time away from the desk is good, in that it can help us to compost for a while — allowing ideas to shift and settle, get covered, and then uncovered again, become richer and more nutritive while they wait for us to pick them up and make something with them.
And then there are the bleak seasons during which life’s difficulties keep us away from writing for long stretches.
So, for me, the “every day” part of the writing gig is less about actually writing every day, and more about maintaining my commitment to the writing life every day. Ideally this happens most mornings when I do my morning reading and writing, But some days this means reading and studying, or submitting poems, or responding to a friend’s poem, but not doing any writing of my own. Some days unfold further afield from the act of writing, and claiming the writing life is only paying good attention, or repeating lines of a favorite poem, or re-visiting my schedule to make adjustments in support of writing time.
What I’m saying is you don’t have to write every day. You just have to be a writer every day. And every day will combine into whatever next thing you write.
Which reminds me of the snippet of Kay Ryan last Friday:
An artist friend of mine once gave me a great pencil sketch of a sink. She said it only took her about half an hour to draw. But it took years for everything to combine into that half hour.
So, if you’ve been waiting around for someone to let you off the hook of every day writing, consider yourself let off. Of course you need to spend time committed to your work and craft. You can’t be a writer if you never write. But I try myself, and I encourage you, to interpret “every day” broadly. As I often say to my po-friend, C-1: “It’s all the work.”
Okay, I feel better now. Here’s to every day writing, broadly interpreted and applied. Hope your week is off to a good start!