“Write every day.”
That’s a piece of writing advice I’ve heard since I started writing almost forty years ago. And you know what? It’s good advice. Because writing, like anything else a person wants to get good at, takes practice. For me, I like writing every single day. When I don’t I get depressed and feel like a walking lump of human shit because my mind doesn’t have an outlet. But ever since I started writing, it’s been a battle for me to pursue it every single day (or close to it depending on other things happening in my life). Why? As I’m fond of saying, it’s a long story. So I’ll just give you a basic highlight reel here and tell you I’ll go into this in more detail in my book, ‘Behind the Story’.
After I graduated high school I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life other than write. My parents were okay with me living at home and doing chores and errands and babysitting for pocket money while I wrote. Around that time I read a book called ‘The Artist’s Way’ by Julia Cameron. At that time I loved the book for its’ embrace of creativity, ‘artist’s dates’, and ‘morning pages’. What I didn’t understand at that time I remember was that I would need to overcome a lot of obstacles in order to really create to the fullest extent of my abilities. But at that time I hadn’t gone through the worst of what life was about to put me through.
In the past, I’ve always said I couldn’t write during the most stressful times of my life because of stress. But now I know that wasn’t true. I stopped writing during high-stress times simply because I was afraid of dealing with someone mouthing off at me accusing me of neglecting my responsibilities or being a selfish bitch. I NEVER, EVER neglected my responsibilities in order write. Once I took on the responsibilities I did I did my best to put my writing down low on my priority list. I did my best to hide it or minimize it. Yet I always felt that wasn’t enough for some people and that if I crossed a line only they could see, then the shit would truly hit the fan for me. Looking back, I realize if I had continued to write during those high-stress times, and if I had put more into my writing that I might have been able to deal with things better than I did at the time. And also, I think if I had told people to fuck off right to their damn faces and told them they had absolutely NO say in my life and what I did with my own time, I think like most bullies they would have backed down.
What those old bullying voices have evolved into are feelings that I need to be rigid and focused in writing. And every time I’ve tried to fit myself into a rigid format, I grind to a halt. I grind to a halt because I need the freedom to write what I want to, and to let shit out on a daily basis. In ‘The Artist’s Way’, Ms. Cameron talks of ‘Morning Pages’, which is where you write three pages by hand every morning without editing or reading back over them at all. My late father would call that ‘clearing the mechanism’. My version of ‘Morning Pages’ is two pages typed single-spaced on a laptop and posted on the internet. Why? Because I like doing it and I do have people who like reading what I write. And most of all, because no one has had the tits or the balls to come at me and tell me otherwise. If someone did try and put me in my place or shut me down writing-wise, I’d tilt my head to the side and go, “Really?” in the most shocked and sarcastic tone I muster. Then I would straighten my head and say with all the feeling I could muster, “Fuck off.”
I want any writer reading this to know you can say, “Really?” followed by “Fuck off.”, if someone tries to shut you down or just mouth off and be a jerk to you. If your writing is not getting in the way of any responsibilities you have to yourself or to others, then it’s no one’s problem. If someone doesn’t like that you write, that’s on them. I know I’m not everyone’s cup of tea and I don’t need to be. I used to think I had to try and please as many people as I could, or appease them if I couldn’t make them happy. To that I say, “Fuck that shit.” Or as the late Rick Nelson sang so well in his song ‘Garden Party’: “You see, you can’t please everyone/So you got to please yourself” (written by Rick Nelson, Universal Music Publishing Group, original release July 1972)
What I also didn’t understand about ‘The Artist’s Way’ when I read it way back when was that writing could be a form of therapy. Almost thirty years later, I understand that concept very well. And maybe there is still some echo of my past thinking someone will come at me because of that. If they do, well, read the above paragraph though I hope I quote Rick Nelson instead of myself.
So going forward, two pages every day of whatever comes to mind. Some excerpts, stories, and more to come.