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Owning Your Craft

The online writing community is saturated with self-labeled experts shilling a myriad of theories about the DOs and DON’Ts of what it takes to be or become a successful, published author. 

I’m sure you’ve heard or seen it.

How many times has it been said that unless one writes x-thousand words every single day, one has no chance of truly succeeding as a writer?

There seems to be no short supply of soothsayers proclaiming that you should write, write, write till you’ve either churned out some semblance of a book or your fingers fall off. If that story seems to be taking its sweet time congealing, then by god–you’d better choke that baby out or burnout trying.

Make no mistake. It is true that self-discipline, productivity, and ingenuity fuel success. 

Let me ask you this, though:

Is writing really a craft that should be forced, rushed, or faked?

 I firmly believe that every story happens in its own time. Whether that time happens to be one day or even 13 years will vary from one writer to the next, and from one story to the next.

By no means do I suggest that we should be lackadaisical in our efforts. If you can write everyday, I heartily recommend it.

Writing is cathartic. Writing helps to keep us sane.

In Zen and the Art of Writing, Ray Bradbury wrote:

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”

In a 1976 interview, he also said: 

 “I don’t believe in being serious about anything. I think life is too serious to be taken seriously.”

it might seem as if he was being self-contradictory, but I don’t believe that’s the case at all. He was simply pointing out the futility of placing unnecessary pressure on ourselves to write.

Sometimes life does seriously get in the way.

Sometimes, we really don’t have the mental wherewithal to churn out x-thousand words. 

Perhaps we should, instead, strive to write purely for the love of crafting the written word. Forget about writing out of some warped sense of obligation brought on by societal or peer pressure. There’s no need to put ourselves through hell when it comes to creative work. Not when the world is already such a harsh environment for fertile minds.

Let’s not forget. 

Writers are always working. We’re constantly brainstorming ideas, imagining various scenarios, and soaking up inspiration. We do this whether we’re scribbling or not. Whether we’re aware of it or not.

Consider sparing a moment to pause, and look back at where you started as a writer. Look at where you are now.

Be proud of the distance you’ve traveled and how much you’ve accomplished so far.

Celebrate those precious  words that you’ve already managed to pour out onto the page. 

Just think, there’s a lot more where those came from.

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