Is it really 100% required that one write every day? Is it true that people who don’t and actively resist doing so (whatever their reasons) really just aren’t cut out to be writers?—Ai
Now, see, this is why you guys should never listen to each other. You don’t know what the heck you’re talking about.
There is NOBODY who just isn’t cut out to be a writer. Not even you. Not even me. Not even on a really, really, really bad day. Writing isn’t an act of grace that either does or does not visit you on your way down the maternal chute. Writing is a discipline that you apply yourself to again and again and again, day after day, year after year, working and sweating and, yes, sometimes whimpering, watching those words squirm and wriggle and gasp and die and unexpectedly leap to life right under your hands.
Do you have to force yourself to do this every day? HECK, NO. You know what Hemingway did when he didn’t feel like writing? He joined an army and got himself shot at. You know what Flannery O’Connor did when she didn’t feel like writing? She went outside and got chased around by her ornery, out-of-control, bad-tempered peacocks. You know what I do when I don’t feel like writing? I go out in the garden and weed until I’m tired of it, then sit under my old faded, spark-hole-riddled umbrella and try to put myself into cardiac arrest from chocolate overdose.
There are people writing can’t KILL. But I tend to think of those guys more as middle management and marketers.
The rest of us, I’m sorry, are about as pathetic and vulnerable as it gets, standing out here in front of Writing Target Practice with bull’s eyes on our foreheads.
Don’t just stand there if you’ve got something better to do.
(Now I’m reading John Steinbeck’s Journal of a Novel, the letters he wrote to his editor, Pascal Covici, throughout the writing of East of Eden. So I’m going to append quotes from it to all the answers this week.)
It is Friday, and I have sweated out one page and a half. If I did not know the process so well I would consider it a week of waste. But I know better than that and am content.
—John Steinbeck, Journal of a Novel