A WRITER SHOULD WRITE EVERY DAY.
That’s probably the best-known piece of writing advice out there. And it’s the one I dislike the most. Why? Because it puts a lot of pressure on anyone who writes or wants to write. And because it assumes that everyone who writes or wants to write functions the same way. And we don’t.
Last week, I discovered a book called The Renaissance Soul: Life Design for People with Too Many Passions to Pick Just One by Margaret Lobenstine. She describes people who– well just like the title says: people who have too many passions to pick just one.
She describes two types of people: those who, like Mozart, knew what they wanted from a young age and never deviated. And those who, like Ben Franklin, pursue many things, never settling to one.
I agree with that but I see it less as black and white and more as a spectrum. I know people who have maybe two major interests and neither is related to their job – which works for them. Then there are people like me who have so many passions and interests that I often don’t know where to focus my attentions next.
I knew this as a kid: when my Old World grandmother asked me over the phone what I wanted to do when I grew up, I told her indignantly that I wasn’t going to have just one job; that would be boring! I was going to do lots of stuff…
I recently remembered that and it amused me: how much more self-aware I was at that age than I am 20+ years later.
But I’m learning. And I’m learning to accept that I am a writer who doesn’t – can’t – write every day. I go through phases with my passions, including with my writing. Sometimes they’re shifted aside to make way for other interests; sometimes they’re shifted aside for life responsibilities and needs. Whichever it is, they’ll still be there when I’m ready and able to take them up again.
If you can’t write everyday, don’t beat yourself up. Life flows in rhythms, not straight lines. Of course, having said that, if you feel that you’re just procrastinating about getting your butt in the chair because you’re scared you won’t have anything to say… well that’s different. Sit down and write! And have fun – the words will come. I’ll join you soon.