A Writing Rule: complaining edition

I saw some folks on the thing I still call Twitter this morning complaining about “the rule that you have to write every day.”

As a person who writes for at least 15 minutes every day—yes, even on days before I got wheeled into surgery—I kinda took their objections personally.

Look, you’re a grownup: you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. But if one of the things you want to do is become a writer, why are you complaining about writing?

Perhaps I should amend that last sentence: If one of the things you say you want to do is become a writer…then write. I’m not saying you have to knock out 2,000 words every day.  I’m not saying you have to hammer away at your Work-in-Progress. I’m not even saying that your writing has to be good. (No one’s writing is every time, especially not in the first draft.) Only that it be something.

My daily writing rule

If I don’t have the bandwidth to work on my creative projects, I might journal, or write a letter to a friend. Maybe even a blog post. For me, writing counts as long as I spend 15 minutes on it and I’m doing it for myself, not a client.

And my definition of “each day” has some flexibility. If I go to bed at 1 a.m.—but I write before my head hits the pillow—I count that as the previous day’s writing.

But I don’t advise that: Once, waking up in the middle of the night—2 or 3 a.m.—I realized I hadn’t written the day before. I grabbed my phone, opened up a new document, and tried my hardest to make words but all I could get was a random stream of letters and emojis. Streak broken.

But I started a new one the very next day and as of today I’m at 1855. (Sorry, WordPress cropped out the words “15 Minutes of Creativity.”)

Yes, of course I keep track of the count. That’s what you do when something is important. I use an iPhone app called Streaks.

Why the complaining?

I haven’t written about my writing streak in a long time. That’s because I do it for myself, not for anyone else. But the Twitter complaining today got to me.

Maybe they’ve piled too many expectations on their writing and it takes so long to unpile them that they run out of time to write.

Or maybe they think that the act of writing requires monastic silence (or the din of a coffeeshop), a pad of virgin legal paper, and a row of razor-sharp pencils.

Maybe they lost their laptop’s power cord.

Bottom line, I’m willing to bet that people who don’t write every day don’t actually enjoy writing. So why do they (say they want to) do it? 

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