So my friend Xiane posted on Facebook that she wants to join in the 30 Days of Writing found here, and I thought I might use it to push myself to get back to writing regularly. But when I started looking at the rules, I found myself rather turned off, especially by the requirement to write first thing in the morning. I don’t have a regular schedule of any sort. I don’t even work the same days every week, much less the same time. Sometimes my ‘first thing in the morning’ is already 3am. I’m certainly not going to wake up an hour or two earlier (making it 1am!) just to adhere to some strangers idea of ‘the right way to be a writer’. And before you say it, no, I’m not going to go to sleep at 6pm or earlier so I can wake up early to follow someone else’s rules of writing.
“You need to write first thing in the morning. Period. Your true life depends on it. If you must get up earlier to do this, then get up earlier. I know I have to.”
Screw that. Screw her. She’s a little too judgmental for my tastes, making broad assumptions about those reading her articles. I agree that for me personally, I need to write, but I don’t agree that I have to completely change my life and make myself miserable to write. Perhaps for her it works, but she is not me, and I don’t think she should be informing other people what works for them.
I work best with framework, I know that. But I don’t work well with rigid rules. Structure, not absolutes. So I’m going to take her basic idea, that writing every day is a goal, and I’m going to make my own plan.
She says: “I don’t fucking care what else you have to do.”
I say: Some things take precedence, like sleep. And work. I don’t get paid for my writing. We need to pay bills. Work and sleep will take priority over writing.
She says: “Writing time: 1-3 hours.”
I say: Setting a time limit is stupid. I can sit in front of the laptop for an hour and not write a damn thing. I like word count goals. I discovered that when I was writing my novel for NaNoWriMo, I could write around 800-1000 words an hour. If I’m writing poetry, certainly, I’m not going to write that much, but for novel/short story writing, or blogging, I can certainly shoot for 1000 words a day and be pretty happy. And more often than not, I’ll exceed that.
She says: “It has to be first thing in the morning.”
I say: Screw you. I bet you don’t have to be up at 3am some mornings to work a very physical job. I will write when I can. If that’s late at night, then that’s when I will write. I already know that I don’t do well with the ‘morning pages’ concept from The Writer’s Way, at least not at this point in my life. Screw you for assuming you know what works in my life.
She says: “The only thing you’re allowed to do BEFORE you “sit at your typewriter and bleed” is your physical morning routine: drink water, poo, go for a walk, exercise, shower, have your tea, coffee, breakfast, whatever your body needs to function.” and “What you can’t do: Don’t check your email or social media, don’t make or answer phone calls, don’t engage in any conversation beyond a sweet good-morning to your life companion/s.”
I say: This makes sense, but again, it depends on the day and my schedule. Some mornings it’s not feasible for me to write before engaging in conversation because I’m at work at 3am, or my husband and I have plans. I woner if she’d be a happier person (assuming her tone in her articles is indicative of her attitude) if she didn’t take such a rigid stance with her own writing time.
She says: “It can be ANY type of writing, but it has to give you pleasure.”
I say: Finally something I can agree with. Telling me to spend 1, 2, 3 hours writing poetry every day is the surest way to make me not want to write a damn thing. Same goes for blogging, writing short stories, writing anything at all. I love writing, and it has shown probably all my life. I do best when I don’t limit myself to any particular type of writing, and just write what I’m inspired to write.
She says: “Stay in touch via social media / email / etc.”
I say: I don’t know that this is necessarily important, but it certainly does help a writer feel like part of a community of sorts. I do post about my progress when I’m writing, and I enjoy seeing other people talk about their writing. I don’t think it should be about accountability, though, because I don’t think I have to be accountable to anyone but myself.
So I’m going to take on the challenge of writing every day in March. I may not write every day, and that’s okay. I probably won’t write first thing in the morning, and I may not write for an hour on the days that I do write. I won’t always write before I check email/social media/play stupid online games/talk to my husband. I will, however, write. I will try to write every day, but I won’t adhere to someone else’s idea of the right way, because what’s right for her isn’t right for everyone, just like what’s right for me isn’t right for everyone.