24 May

Writing Every Day - A Truism Accepted...


A writing truism I could no longer have a hissy fit about, and neither can you – writing every day…
Nope. Don't X me out.
Slowly back your fingers away from that mouse or touchpad.
Stop with your "talk to the hand" hissy fit, and read me.
Once upon a time, I WAS YOU.
I thought this "truism" was a load of animal poo-poo.
I went YEARS not accepting this adage tripe.
Problem was, I was wrong. 
You must know, it's damn hard for me to acknowledge the error of my ways, as I think I'm quite "special." *patting myself softly on the head, and yelling to the asylum nurse, "Where’s my Thorazine!"*;-)
Thus, I will explain…
Many writers conferences ago, I befriended a rough-round-the-edges celebrated Scottish-Canadian scribe, whose blue pencil group session I attended. He said a lot of realistic, practical things, but the one thing which stuck in my brain was him simply stating, "You have to show up for work" to achieve literary success. He declared that if you plan on becoming a serious writer, you have to wake each day, get dressed and go to work, aka WRITE, and adopt a work-ethic expected in any other full time job.
If you take seriously this métier...
If you truly want to start and FINISH your book...
If you want to go from hobbyist writer to master wordsmith with many quality works under your name…
Then, there is no other way.
I don't care if you're the smartest nut in the nut barrel, and you ooze prodigy slime... if you do not practice every work day like you would in any other endeavor where you hoped to succeed, then you are full of animal poo-poo like I once was, and you won’t get where you want to go with your writing.
You can attend all the conferences you want.
You can belong to a plethora of writers groups.
You can talk smack on the process and wax purple prose pathetic on your WIP, but unless you put your money where your mouth is, unless you lay rubber on the road, unless you freakin' sit down, open up that file and smack down and/or edit words on that WIP Every Single Day, you,
a) won't finish that WIP
b) won't write well on that WIP
c) and you won't go on to finish other works well either.
A. Simple. Unavoidable. Fact.
Yes, just like with any other career, you must take off 2 weekend days. Your mind needs to rest, and to subconsciously churn literary milk into cream on that WIP. But during your writing work week, you show up for work. NO excuses.
Annnd yes... to train yourself to do this...can be like shoving bamboo shoots under your finger nails. You will grunt, and groan and curse and fail, and start again, and hate this process for the 6 straight WEEKS it will take you to adopt this new habit.
Yes, you read me right. 6 weeks. 42 days of constant showing up to "work."
Why? Because humans are not that smart. It takes that amount of time to have our minds and bodies acclimate, and automatically act upon, a new task. Don’t believe me? Look it up, naysayers…
And how do I know this will work?
Because I did it. I suffered through those 42 days. I screwed up three times, started over three times, and finally wrote for 42 days straight.
And I suffered through this torture because I inherently knew that celebrated writer was right.
It's been no different in the other skills I've previously adopted.
Why should life be any cushier in becoming a wordsmith?
Why do new writers who want to become master writers think learning this skill will be easy, and packed full of yummy cake and icing fun?
That mistaken belief continues to blow my mind.
In my life as a competitive swimmer,
I had to swim endless laps to execute strokes, faster, many hours after the other leisure swimmers got to go home.
As a grade school football player,
I had to re-run plays as the quarterback until those plays became automatic, if I wanted to win a game.
As a student pianist,
I had to play piano scales 'til I bored myself silly to memorize the proper fingering and to learn the different notes to easily play songs.
And I had to do the same in choir.
And undoubtedly YOU have had to do the same in the skills you've already learned.
That thing mothers constantly spout to kids when they're trying to learn a new skill..., "Practice makes perfect." Well, I'll be damned, if they weren't right.
Frig! Why do mothers always have to be right!
So, once I finally came out of my writing every day tantrum and realized the necessity of this rule in all acquired skills, I decided to mature-up and take up the challenge, and write for 42 days straight. 
1) I set up a calendar sheet with 42 days. I tacked it up next to my writing spot.
2) I checked off each day after I wrote, and at the end of each week, I gave myself a sticker. (Yes, I've never tired from acquiring achievement stars like we all got in grade school. Hey, stop snickering... it takes very little for me to feel "special.")
3) And at the end of the 42 days, I got a really SPECIAL sticker... and a few celebratory cocktails... your treat can be whatever you wish. I'm a kid at heart, and of North Irish descent, so you can see where my drooling lies...
Let me tell you.
It was not easy.
I'm not going to be like so many article writers out there, sugar-coating this process, and blow smoke up your butt.
It's no cakewalk, but it CAN BE DONE.
I did it.
I knew all I had to do was open up my laptop, and on my bad days, just type the single word, "the."
That would count as writing because I had gone through the motions of...
a) going to my writing spot
b) opening up my laptop
c) opening up a word processing page
d) typing the word, "the"
e) saving my “work.”
f) closing my laptop
g) and leaving my writing spot for that day.
And on the good days, of course, I wrote a lot more. You will, too.
The Key: It's the MENTAL PROCESS you need to undergo, and through it, the taming of your FEAR of writing. There is no other earthly way to achieve said than to undertake this challenge.
After those 42 days, well, my brain transformed!
It simply got used to the process, and in turn, ignored the fear.
Note: the fear, that "stage fright," will never go away.
It's part of being an artist of any stripe.
It WILL be with you until the day you die.
BUT your mind and body will learn to write THROUGH THE FEAR.
You will no longer put off the act of writing.
You will no longer say to yourself, "I'm too tired, I don't feel well, I'm too busy, I have others things to do."
And what happens after that happens?
You go from an erratic, so-so writer to a prolific, skilled writer pretty darn fast!
Faster than I ever thought possible.
And with your noticeable improvement, your DESIRE to write every day grows, too!
Now, it's a positive loop.
Now, it's a self-fulfilling prophecy.
You've killed the excuses and put that stage fright in its place.
And you're on your way, every day, to higher and higher quality, and quantity, output.
And from that moment on, you can truly call yourself a writer.
You know why?
Because you actually write. Every writer work day.
That's why. 
You no longer just talk smack about writing.
You finally put the pedal to the metal and shed those ridiculous excuses that to be a serious scribe demands writing every work day.
Wake up, peeps.
Smell the coffee.
It's what you and I need to do.
Now, are you up for trying the challenge?
42 straight days.
No minimum word count.
Write on anything you want.
On your bad days, simply type the word, "the" and be done for the day.
On your good days, type more.
If you screw up and miss a day, start over, start back on Day One, and begin again.
Keep your swearing down to dull roar. I’m trying to write over here…;-)
If you are serious about becoming a wordsmith — and have reached the end of my rant here today — are you WILLING to try what I tried? I'll NEVER ask you to do anything I haven't already experienced. Okay? Trust me. Follow me. 
Comment below your experience before, during and after the challenge.
I'm here. I get you.
We are all on the same literary ladder.
We're just hanging by our bloody finger nails to different rungs.
Let's DO this.

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