Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Writing101: Always Be Writing?

I'm not shy about the fact that I go on the prowl for writing tips. You're never done learning. But sometimes, the tips I find completely baffle me. The ones see most often is just perfect for a bumper sticker: always be writing. But as someone who actually always is writing, I've got to say it: this is a bad tip. 

...Because You'd Die

This is yet another of those post where I'm going to tell you to do the exact opposite of what I do. I am a cautionary tale. Because I'm so always writing, I had to compose this blog post on two different devices. I literally can't move about my own home without writing something. Always be writing is nice and trite when you're writing something for Twitter, but as someone who has put this insane notion into practice I can assure you, it's terrible.

Don't get me wrong. I am a writer, and that's just great. It's swell. But the reality is that I'm so pressed for time I rarely sleep for 5 hours a night, I have to do research with one hand when I fold laundry in the mornings and I get all jazzed up about going out to get the mail because that's how often I get to see the daylight.

I don't know who first said always be writing, but authors latched onto it and they parrot it all over blogs all the livelong day. If I wasn't always writing, I would have more time to counter-act this by screaming stop writing. But all I've really got is this blog post.

Here's the point: your mind needs to rest. Your fingers need a break. Your eyes should just close for a little while, or at the very least stop being burned out by your laptop screen. It's incredibly difficult, nigh impossible, to be creative when you're exhausted and dozing off half the time and stressing out about where to put the comma the other half of the time. As of this moment, I've been writing for almost 13 hours. I did not stop for meals. I can eat with one hand and use the mouse with the other, after all.

And as you can tell, I'm rambling my way through this post because my thoughts are no longer capable of traveling in a straight line. The errors I'm making I'll go back and correct, but rest assured they are legion.

I am always writing, or at least I spend an inordinate amount of time doing it. I start working from the moment I wake up. The only time I ever just sit and eat something is  my nightly yogurt. Every other time, I'm shoveling food in while I write. I see few people. I go to few places. My conversations almost always end with "can we talk about it later? I'm busy writing." Later doesn't come, because when it does there is still more writing to do.

I'm just going to say it. Always be writing is the worst advice ever, but I don't think you're supposed to take it literally. I think it means that you're supposed to try to write creatively every day. But frankly, that's not going to work for me, either. I haven't worked on my latest manuscript even once today, and I'm not going to. I have to get up again in less than 6 hours, and I haven't even had my yogurt yet. Always be writing is a cute thing to say, but it's not practical.

So here I am with my piece of advice: take a break when you get the chance. You can't always be writing, because it just won't work.

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  1. Great advice...Thanks for the post. :)

  2. Thanks for your comment, Carol! So glad you enjoyed the post.