Some of you, who are paying attention, may have noticed that I haven’t blogged since October 12th but suddenly surged back into action yesterday with a post about Cold Comfort Farm.
Well, here’s the honest truth, and it gives me a chance to talk about that old ‘write every day’ thing that goes around.
On October 2 my husband went back to the States. I wrote a bit about surviving a long distance relationship, thinking my advice would be helpful to some people (I hope it was). What I wasn’t expecting was a big old helping of winter blues, what some might call depression. In the last three months I moved house, applied for an immigrant visa (discovered that said visa could take nine months to get processed) and went to work. Beyond that, I had nothing.
I didn’t write and I didn’t blog. I’m not sorry. I have come to accept that, particularly in winter, particularly when life is difficult, I will struggle to do much more than what is necessary. I have spent many years beating myself up about this – calling myself lazy and the like. But the truth is, like any life, mine has priorities. Keeping my day job is one – I need the money to pay the bills! My loved ones are another – they keep me sane and happy.
After that, everything is optional.
You often get told that if you want to be a writer, you need to write every day. You need to write a lot. A writer… writes.
To be honest, writing every day will help. It will make you a better writer, faster. It will get you through that million words of crap you have to write before you become decent. A book is a lot of words, and the fastest way to get those words is to write.
But sometimes you can’t write. And beating yourself up about it won’t help. Guilt is not a useful emotion, especially if the reason you’re not writing is because of difficult life reasons.
Some things won’t go away. If you’re not writing because of children, then well, you’re not going to write for a pretty long time. Better to figure out how to balance family and writing time. If you’re not writing because of a temporary illness, however, you will get better and then you can write. Cut yourself some slack.
I know full well that my writing comes and goes; I will have productive months and unproductive ones. I’m okay with that. I’ve written one book. I’ve got another half done.
The trick is not to write every day but rather to not give up. Always come back to writing as soon as you can. You have a lot of years and the only way to not be a writer is to not write at all.