Today’s DIYMFA prompt is about Best Practices. What’s one “best practice” that didn’t work for you?
If you want to be a writer, you must write every day. So goes the advice of many writing books and many writers. How much varies by author, from 500 words a day by authors such as Ernest Hemingway, who liked to stop in the middle of something so he’d be able to continue the next day, to 10,000 by Michael Crichton.
I have thought about this advice often and felt guilty after not writing for many, many days in a row, but have come to the conclusion that this is one best practice that will never work for me. Feeling bad about writing – something this is primarily a hobby right now that is supposed to make me happy – is not my end goal.
I write in spurts. Some days I write for many hours straight, editing and writing and researching, all at once. Some weeks I do this for many days in a row straight. I am very much a deadline-oriented writer. I set my own deadlines, based on calls-for-submissions or other due dates and work toward them feverously, often getting things done in advance of a deadline.
When I don’t have a solid due date, I write when the muse strikes. This could be when I hear something someone says, or when the parts of something I’ve been working on finally come together while I’m not at my keyboard. I wrote about my process for making sure I don’t miss any flashes of inspiration a few days ago, which ensures that I am always ready to write when my fingers and mind are ready.
The way I write reminds me of my dog Chai. She is the first dog I’ve ever had that likes to pick up things on our walk. She carries them for a few blocks before dropping them. A week or so ago, it was a pinecone. In our walks since, she passed up the pinecone, hidden beneath the snow.
One day, she dug into the snow, uncovering it, but did not pick it up. This morning she dug up the pinecone and carried it a few more blocks before dropping it. Tomorrow or a few weeks from now she may pick it up again. Someday, she’ll bring it all the way home. Just like writing, she’s confident enough that the pinecone will be there. If not, she’ll find something else.