Full disclosure: I do not make my living as a writer. I have written for money. (This, for example.) I have a day job. Doesn’t really matter what. Suffice to say it’s less exciting than The Most Interesting Man in the World, more exciting than that dude I encountered working the fast food drive-thru out in the middle of nowhere a couple months ago. I was nearly rendered suicidal by his wretchedly sad voice as I placed my burger order.
I have a family that likes to see me now and then.
I have other things that need doing: appointments, sleep, playing with the cat.
All of this adds up to me not spending as much time at the writing desk as I would like. Writing advice books always tell you to “write every day.” And that’s good advice if, for no other reason, because it just feels weird to a writer to go a day without writing. It’s like missing your morning coffee or the afternoon workout or not bathing in hot fudge. Sure, you can get through the day without it, but it seems wrong somehow.
So, friends (Not you in the back. I still remember what you did.), the advice to write every day is good. Sometimes, for me, that “writing” consists entirely of scraps of paper with half-legible (at best) notes about what I intend to write later. See a road sign that inspires a cool character name? Write it down. Inspiration for a killer scene hits you in the shower? Sprint naked to your office/nook/garage to write it down. It suddenly dawns on you how your steam punk/sci-fi/Christian/chick-lit/cookbook should end while you’re watching your kid’s ballet rehearsal and you are so overcome with joy you leap up whooping, causing Erica Wongermakerdoogal to face-plant? Put that ending in your iPhone while you wait for the ambulance to arrive.
Do these things, even if you never sit down at your computer or fountain pen (ala Neil Gaiman) that day. Why? Because, friend, it’s still writing. And don’t feel bad about it if that’s all you do on a given day. You’re still pushing your creative endeavor forward.
The key, of course, is to actually follow through and develop that scrap of whatever into something someone other than your mother would want to read. Otherwise, all those bits and pieces are just nexting material for the Spoon-Billed Wannabe Warbler of ShouldaCouldaWoulda.
Go ahead. Wikipedia that. Then get back to writing.