BONUS: Just Write

BONUS: Just Write

I’m going to do something real unusual and get serious with you guys for a minute.

I have a day job, just like most of us do. I work forty hours a week. My travel time is between one to two hours either way. My ex boyfriend left me a while ago without a car and without any help on the rent. I’m a Type I diabetic, and in addition to all my other bills I pay about $150 a month for medical supplies. For a little while there, especially about a year ago, I was having a pretty bad time of it.

I don’t have it too hard. There are plenty–PLENTY–of people in this universe who have it a whole lot worse. There are people who can’t find work, or clean water, or who are in prison, or trapped in a totalitarian country, or who are in daily danger. But do I get frustrated? Yes. Do I go through entire days where I have maybe an hour to write? Hell yes.

But here’s why I’m telling you this. If you want to write–if you really want to–do it. For the love of Christ, quit talking about doing it and do it.

Since I was six or seven years old, I’ve known what I wanted to do. Books made a big difference in my childhood–were, at times, the best friends I had. And once I got old enough–once I realized I could put stories down on paper too–shit. That was pretty much it, for me.

I’m twenty-six now. This’ll be my first novel, self-published. I figure I stand to make about eighty bucks from it, if my extended family all decide to buy a copy too. I look forward to the single review I’ll get on Amazon from someone I don’t know personally. I hope it’s five stars.

But frankly? Even if it never happens–even if my book sits on that cute virtual shelf for twenty years with no love–I’ve still done what I wanted to do. Even if I get a slew of one star reviews and college writing majoresque people telling me it’s ‘derivative’ and ‘immature’ to write fantasy, fuck ’em. Because I did it. I wrote something that I–I–like. Something I’m proud of. Something funny, and dark, and strong, and with my heart written inside it.

This is success.

It might not sound like it. Honestly, there are times when it doesn’t even feel like it.

But it is.

So write, goddammit. If you’ve got five minutes, or five hours, or five thousand. If your life is going good or if it isn’t. If your grammar is awesome, if it sucks the big one, write.

Because the only way you will ever be happy with yourself–the only way you’ll ever be truly proud–is if you’ve written exactly what you wanted to write. Did you want to put an adverb in there? Go you. Put it in. Got a darling to kill? Only if you want to.

I see so much self-publishing advice out there, so much writing advice, so much information, some of it probably good. But in the end, the only thing you can do is what you know you have to do.

So don’t second guess yourself. Don’t listen too much to the experts. Take the five minutes of your cigarette break and write. Take the half hour you spend in your car waiting for the kids to get out of school and write. Say fuck you to your least important bills and buy something you can write on easily wherever you are. Keep it with you always, and always keep it charged.

When someone tells you you’re bad, don’t listen. When someone else tells you you’re good, don’t listen.


Have friends and family willing to help you out so you can write more? Good! These are awesome people. They may occasionally have to deal with not seeing you for a while. Because you’re writing.

Write until you’ve written down everything you have to say and then don’t write one word more.

Write until you feel like you’re a writer. Once this happens, it’s probably time to quit anyway.

Write until you’re happy.

Write until you’re satisfied.

It might never happen.

Just write.


4 thoughts on “BONUS: Just Write

  1. I wish I could do that. I write for a totally different reason than most. I need a block of three hours, at the end of the day, where my only plan is to sleep. Then I write. Or, in the morning, with the day before lunch open. Then I write. Otherwise I’ll never sit and look at a blank sheet of paper. Life gets in the way. Or, life takes precedence. In my world, at least.

    1. You can do that, you just have to make yourself.

      I mean, it’s ok to wait for the blocks of time if that’s what you want to do, but if you wish you could do it differently, just try. Worst thing that can happen is you spend a few spare minutes staring at some paper.

      It takes a shift in view to get to where Emily is. You pretty much have to decide that when you say “life takes precendence”, what you actually mean is that everything takes precedence over writing. Which, for some people, might be ok. Writing is a fun hobby. For others, people who want to get serious, people who want to produce something, people who go kind of crazy if they haven’t put words on a page for a while … well why not tell “life” where to go?

      Writing is my life, it takes precendence over everything except the actual functions keeping my body alive. So, eating, sleeping, washing, being warm and dry, and earning my money to do those things. Everything else, /everything/ else is optional. Or it’s only worthy of five minutes, which I can fit in little breaks from writing.

      I don’t know if you really mean it when you say you wish you could do that. If it was a casual comment, feel free to ignore everything I’m saying. If you meant it, though … do it. Be one of those people who acts to make wishes come true. I promise it’ll make you feel awesome.

      1. This might be one of those midline statements I’m so good at making, but I couldn’t agree more with both of you.

        There are some times, unfortunately, when life DOES take precedence. You need a place to sleep, food to eat. People like me need insulin and test strips and all sorts of strange diabeetus jimjaws. And, most of all, you need experience and wisdom and knowledge. Nobody can sit in a room at a typewriter all day unless they spent yesterday doing something worth writing about. At least, that’s how my life works. I have trouble coming up with those three hours at the end of the day. After my boyfriend comes home, when we get to spend our usual hour or so together before I have to go to sleep, he takes precedence. Because I love him, and I want him in my life as much as I can have him.

        But if you really want to write–like, REALLY do–you need to learn how to make the little spaces in your life count for something. Because, for most adults, there isn’t much time outside of the little spaces you can write in. I, for instance, have achieved black-belt levels of proficiency in the art of one-hand-holding-a-taco-the-other-on-the-keyboard-jitsu. When I take my keyboard apart to clean it, cheese falls out. Not kidding. This happened to me earlier this morning. There was a fleck of cilantro in there. (Insert pun about overgarnishing scenes here).

        If you can make those three hours at the end of the day happen, hot damn, go you. To me, that in and of itself is a serious effort to make creativity a part of your life. Some people can’t do the on the go thing that I do. But in the end, it’s probably the same amount of time, just–positioned differently. People can write when they want, how they want, so long as they do it.

      2. I’m saying if I have an hour, I pay bills. Or I make a meal instead of ordering junk. My 60 hour work weeks are killer, and I find no creativity left after I’m done with the day. When I have a few open hours, it means I have time to take care of myself, simmer down, and write. Otherwise, basic functions like paying bills or eating wouldn’t get done. But I hear where you’re coming from. If I do anything in my free time, I write. Heh I could list so many things I gave up to keep writing. I wish I could just sit down, for five minutes, and write, then go do something else. Unfortunately eating, sleeping, cleaning house, paying bills and, of course, earning money takes precedence over writing.
        If I sacrificed health, or my credit score, I could probably eke out a little more writing. And I have in the past.

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