Writing is hard. Even the best of the best, the masters of the craft, can attest to that. Jim Tully said, “Long patience and application saturated with your heart’s blood—you will either write or you will not—and the only way to find out whether you will or not is to try.”
Thinking about writing is easy. We all have ideas for our creative pieces – fuzzy visions of our own fantasy world, deconstructed plot lines, conversations between characters – running rampant in the depths of our imagination… Developing the blueprint of our story in our heads takes time, yes, but it’s straightforward and it can even be fun. It can be easy to get carried away and imagine the story sent to a publisher and printed onto paper. But sitting down, translating those thoughts into coherent sentences and getting content onto the page? That’s hard – really hard.
With the advent of the internet, distractions are rife – why gruel over a blank Microsoft Word document when you can read the daily news or scan weather reports or watch Buzzfeed’s latest feature on an artisan doughnut shop selling maple-dipped doughnuts flaked with gold? It’s so easy to to find excuses as to why we don’t write – why we don’t have time or the resources, why our attention is desperately required elsewhere.
I too experience this tireless, hair-tearing, teeth-grinding process of not being able to translate my creative ideas into words. I understand how exhausting and disheartening it is. I’ve tried multiple ways to try to overcome writer’s hump. Waking up at 6am, reading classics and emulating the author’s style, responding to writing prompt after writing prompt – I’ve tried it all, hoping to find a cure-all elixir-like technique that whips me into shape, channels every ounce of my creative energy, spurs my artistic writerly senses to the point where thoughts start overflowing onto paper in the form of beautifully crafted prose. But I’m sorry to say that nothing worked; there’s no easy way around the grueling-ness of the writing process. But although, I can’t tell you the magic formula for writing (because there isn’t one), I can give you one piece of advice: write something every single day.
Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451, said “Write. Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.”
At the start of the new year, I made a promise to myself that I would write something everyday. I created a Google Doc on January 1st and wrote about a page on what I did that day. On January 2nd I did the same thing, and on the 3rd, and the 4th. I left the document open on my desktop as a constant reminder. During midterms and finals week, I didn’t have time to write a page-long entry, but I made sure to at least write a sentence or two. I wrote about anything that stuck out to me that day – who I was with, what I ate, how I felt, why I felt that way etc. I admit, writing everyday did feel a bit tedious at times – it’s not glamorous and it’s not the kind of content I’d submit to a literary magazine, but it’s still writing.
So if you’re serious about writing and developing as a writer, but find yourself unable to write, this might be a helpful exercise for you. Buy a cheap notebook or start a new document, title each entry with the date, and write whatever your heart desires. Don’t agonize over what you choose to write down or the quality of what you write. The most important thing about writing something everyday isn’t necessarily the content – though the content does has value – but developing the habit. All you need to do is spit something into a notebook or an open Google doc for a few minutes a day and that alone will suffice. Because at the end of the day, you practiced writing. In the process, you’re developing your voice, your style, and the habit.
And hey, maybe one day you’ll reread what you wrote and use it as the frame for your next novel! So try it out – start writing.