ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PIECES OF ADVICE BY A MASTER OF THE CRAFT (that I happen to disagree with kinda sort of on one point)


You Must Write Every Single Day of Your Life

To sum it all up, if you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling.  You must write every single day of your life.  You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish for you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories—science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.

RAY BRADBURY

First of all Loyals and True Believers, go back a read that again. Go ahead. Read it out loud. That is poetry. It sings to my soul and is one of the truest things I have ever read.

I agree with the venerable Mr Bradbury 100%. Except for one small point.

I do not think you have to write every day.  I don’t believe it and I don’t do it. Days will pass without me being able to write…sometimes out of being busy, sometimes out of being stuck in a place in the story, and sometimes, just every once in a while, it happens just out of sheer laziness.

(That last part is just between me and you my friend. Snitches get stitches.)

Now, I agree with the spirit of the statement. You must write every day of your life is great advice and will carry you far. If you are not a professional then follow that advice until you are. But sometimes, understand that life happens and it never happens smooth and clean. Life is a mess. Sometimes your time is demanded by things out of your control.

Just go with it.

But you DO need to have a regular schedule of writing. Time that is sacrosanct, set aside holy and pure just for engaging in the creative act of writing. It could be everyday, it could ba a few hours every other day, it could be 15 minutes every weekday morning while waiting for your carpool/school bus ride. It could be only on Monday nights.  But you must give up your time, sacrifice it to the Muse and make the work happen or  you will not be able to complete anything.  The creative process will take things from your life, but the rewards are immense and infinite.  You may have to lose your favorite show on TV, you might have to not have that standing lunch time with coworkers, you may have to give up texting aimlessly. Whatever you have to do, you must carve out the same time to give over to your writing. This is THE DEAL. This is the contract you must make with your Muse. Give her a reliable time, show up, and start working and she will give you stories, glorious stories. Stories to make kingdoms fall, to make Angels weep, to make children realize they are able to fulfill all their potential.  You can tap the lifeblood of the universe. You can catch a glimpse of the mind of God if you give yourself over to Story in a dedicated way.

I know I am sounding a bit metaphysical with all this talk, but storytelling is the thread that the fabric of culture is woven from. It is the central tie between all mankind. When God created the world He spoke it into existence, this is what you reflect when you speak a story and create your own world that your characters live in. Don’t ever think less of it. It is magic and you are a part of it.

You need to write.  Make it happen. However you have to do so is just fine. Once a day, twice a week, whatever. Give yourself over to the Muse and reap the rewards of your discipline.
Write well my friends.

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4 Comments

  1. In my experience, you can write every day and improve your writing, but people won’t necessarily want to read all of that stuff. If you write daily, you will also eventually get sick of yourself. But at least you’ll be a self-loather with epic writing skills.

    Indy

    • It’s not that I have a problem with folks writing every day. No, quite the contrary, I encourage it. I have GOOD friends who are talented and successful writers who write every day. You can definitely write every day of your natural born life with no danger of becoming sick of it.

      But most folks are not able to write everyday. I am not, despite the fact that I have a book coming out next year from Kensington Publishing (BLOOD AND BULLETS early 2012) and have two other books contracted to be written. I am a “professional” writer. So I would never want a new writer become discouraged that they cannot keep up with the common advice of “write everyday”.

      The important part is not every day, but that you have specific times set aside and dedicated to pursuing Story and her rewards. If you do that, offer yourself with dedication and put in the work, she will show up and give you of herself.

      • I wasn’t contradicting your thought, rather piggybacking on it. I was also joking–badly– after nine hours of writing.

        You’re right, book writing takes hustle, and for some of us, it eventually takes over everything. (Have you ever fallen head over heels in love with one of your characters?)

        After weeks of work, sometimes I have to take a break, close the laptop and read somebody else’s stuff, talk to somebody else, or just LOOK at something unrelated to my current project in order to access the story’s tipping point.

        Some writers feel like failures for walking away like this, but it’s just balancing output with input. The diverging thoughts of others have helped me file the narcissistic edges off of my writing and distinguish worthy ideas from crap. (Let’s face it, not everything I churn out is destined for that manuscript.)

        Best of luck on your book, James. Wait til your pub makes it into an audiobook. It’s trippy. 🙂

  2. Bradbuyr’s advice and your comments perfectly illustrate the difference between professional writers and amateurs: self-sacrifice.

    Many people falsely believe that authors possess some mutant gene or special charism lacking in other folks.

    The truth is that being a professional writer is like being a professional anything, requiring a commitment of time and energy whether or not you feel like it.

    Go ahead and wax metaphysical. That’s the path to virtue, which patience and discipline certainly are. Virtues are also skills that require effort to master, hence the necessity of regular practice.

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