There is an old and respected adage that says writers should write every day. Certainly, there are writers who do just that. Stephen King famously writes all but two days each year. Oddly perhaps, neither of those two days is Halloween. But that’s beside the point.
Let me pose a simple question. What would you think the point of writing every day is, if you don’t have something to say? Writing is after all a form of story-telling. There has to be a purpose to what you write. The end result may be intended to educate, or entertain, but there has to be a reason the writer sits down, or stands up, or jogs in place to put words on the page. If there’s no reason, no point, no moral, no lesson to be shared – well in that case you’re not a writer, you’re a typist (or a scribbler, as the case may be), and what is the point of that?
There is another old adage that says if you put a hundred monkeys in a room and force them to type day after day, it’s at least possible that one of them will one day, totally by accident, rewrite a play originally put to paper by William Shakespeare. So I ask you, is it really worth writing a Shakespearean play if it can be done by an illiterate monkey by total chance? Is that what you want, to be known as a monkey with a keyboard?
Here’s an idea. Think. Dream. Wander the woods, or the sidewalks of your town, or the beach, or the local mall. Imagine a story. Develop a character or two. Be inspired by the potential conflict or romance that occurs between two or more imaginary humans. Think outside the constraints of your own life, or delve more deeply into your daily routine than you ever dreamed was possible. Find a story. Any story. Then refine it, play with it in your head, write it when you finally have something to say.
Of course, the method I describe is no more or less idiotic than the ‘write every day’ nonsense so many fledgling writers have been derailed by. If you want to write, write. That’s all there is too it. Keep in mind that your early efforts will probably look like genius to you – but they will not be. In fact, they will likely be closer to worthless than they will be to genius. But that’s beside the point. Writing is subjective. Don’t listen to me. Don’t listen to anyone. Just write.
The rules are simple enough. If you want to write, then write. Write every day if that works for you. Write once a week if you prefer. Write only on odd numbered days after dark but before 10PM if that’s what moves you. Whatever works. Just don’t waste your time and your talent trying to fit into a box that was never intended for you in the first place.
Just write. That’s all you have to do to be a writer. Just write. If you can enjoy the process, so much the better. You may be the first to do so. For most of us we call it work, because writing is in fact, work. It’s a process that requires constant revision, and still it’s never quite right. Like a painter who can’t seem to mix quite the right shade of blue to express the scene correctly, or the actor who is never entirely confident (s)he gave the very best performance possible – the life of a writer is a life filled with doubt, regret, distrust, disinterest, and above all – hope. There is always the next sentence, the next scene, and of course tomorrow is right around the corner.
There is always hope for a better day, a better story, a better sentence, and certainly for better reviews. But the work is still right there, sitting in front of you. Whether it is a blank computer screen or a ream of paper as yet untyped on, there is work to do. There is a story to write, to refine, to revise, and ultimately release.
So what are you doing reading this? Go write something. But first, know what you want to say. That’s as good a starting point as any.