10 Writers on Writing Anyway
(You have to do it even when you can’t do it.)
“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” — Louis L’Amour
Let’s face it. As creatives, sometimes we get blocked.
We don’t write.
Even when we should, even when there’s no excuse not to, we don’t write because we are held back by fear, self-doubt, lack of motivation, or a hundred other things that keep us from the page.
We want to write anyway, yeah?
So the first thing to do is just start.
It doesn’t matter how you get started.
Pick up a pen and start scrawling in a notebook. Open a new page in Word and start fleshing out the story idea that’s been brewing for months. Open up a page in Medium and click “New Story” and see what sort of magic happens.
In the beginning, it doesn’t matter if what you are producing is crap.
It just matters that you turn the faucet on and start producing.
“And if you’re gonna be a writer, you just truly have to be a writer. You have to throw yourself into it and deal with the negative consequences of that. And there are negative consequences. I mean, there are. But, it’s also true that you wouldn’t be interviewing me right now if I had worked at the post office.
— Cheryl Strayed
“I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged.”
— Erica Jong
If you’re going to write anyway, you have to remember that some people aren’t going to like your writing.
Some people aren’t going to pay attention at all, which is its own kind of hell, but others are going to actively dislike your work and want to tell you about it, and you have to let their words go and keep writing anyway.
If you are a fiction or poetry writer who is trying to publish, you may be facing constant rejection from agents and editors on your journey, but you have to be able to stick it out and keep submitting through the rejection.
If you write here on Medium, you have to know that there are going to be days when you have low engagement or even negative engagement, and you know what you have to do?
You have to keep writing anyway.
You have to completely, unapologetically embrace the writer you are and tell the stories that you were put here to tell, no matter how scary it is, no matter how hard it is, no matter how worth it it seems in the end.
“Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen. Repent just means to change direction — and NOT to be said by someone who is waggling their forefinger at you. Repentance is a blessing. Pick a new direction, one you wouldn’t mind ending up at, and aim for that. Shoot the moon.”
— Anne Lamott
What Anne Lamott is saying is, don’t be afraid.
Don’t let fear get in the way of fulfilling your dreams of writing, because it will be the biggest regret of your life.
I am filled with regret for missing just a month of writing, I can’t imagine letting this fear continue to keep me in its grip and away from what I want to be doing more than anything else in my life.
So, I’ll write anyway
We will write anyway.
“And we all get mired in the bullshit, the personality quirks, the personality disorders (ours and everyone else’s), the jealousy, the disappointment, the blocks, the financial struggle, our egos, I do it too, I do it too, but if you can’t remember it is all about the work and nothing else then I can’t help you and you can’t help yourself and you will lose. I promise you. You will lose.”
— Jami Attenberg
It’s all about the work.
It doesn’t matter what we are producing, as long as we are writing something.
A journal entry.
An article or a chapter of your novel — just do the work.
Worry about doing the work more than you worry about doing anything else, and maybe that will help you get it done.
Make the work your priority.
If you want this as much as you say you do, shove all the other crap out of your mind and make it the most important thing in your life.
“The first two, three, four weeks are wasted. I just show up in front of the computer. Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too. If she doesn’t show up invited, eventually she just shows up.”— Isabel Allende
“First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice.”— Octavia Butler
Keep on writing, even when it feels wrong, even when it’s crap, even when it’s taking everything out of your soul to get something out of your head and down on paper, keep writing.
I write every day on 750words.com and have not broken my streak in over 375 days.
I show up every day no matter what to do my journaling and it has come to be an incredibly important part of my life.
It’s cleared my head, helped with my depression and anxiety, has bred great articles, and keeps me accountable.
You have to keep showing up and writing anyway, even if you aren’t feeling like sharing your words with the world.
“Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.” — William Faulkner
You have to let go of the idea of perfection and stop being precious with your writing.
Your first drafts aren’t going to be perfect.
That’s okay, they aren’t supposed to be — remember that.
Don’t let your idea of having to get it right the first time scare you from starting and writing at all, as I have done many times in the past.
No matter what you are writing, your first draft isn’t going to be stellar, but you have to write it anyway, nurture it and fix it, and then give it to the world.
Don’t be afraid for the beginning of anything to suck.
Just write it anyway, do your best, and tell your stories.
A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” — Richard Bach
Don’t give up, writers.
You’re going to have your bad times, you’re going to have your slumps and your blocks and your creative battles that seem insurmountable, but if you just keep writing anyway, you will get through it.
Because you are a writer.
You don’t have any other choice in the matter.
You write anyway.
Cheney Meaghan is a single mom, homeschooler, and writer from Connecticut trying to make a living with her words. You could support her by clicking here to sign up for her weekly email newsletter, and she would think you’re awesome.