Friday, September 16, 2022

Why "You Must Write Everyday" is BS

A detailed, well-researched article by Cait Gordon (speculative fiction author and editor of the Nothing Without Us and Nothing Without Us Too anthologies) on why the "You must write everyday" gang are ignorant, privileged, ablist, demotivational speakers.

As I have repeatedly said here and elsewhere, every successfull writer thinks there is only one way to succeed but every author has a different answer to the that question--what worked for them and therefore what they assume will work for everyone else, but that's egocentric nonsenese.

Similarly, K-12 curriculum often lays out the 'writing method' (some version of pre-writing, brainstorming, outlining, first draft, second draft, final draft) but there's no one method of writing anymore than their version of 'the scientific method' bares any relationship to what actual scientists actually do. *Sigh*

But the "write everyday" meme seems one of the most widely repeated bits of nonsense, especially by wannabe authors and unqualified motivational speakers. It works for some on Gadwell's "it takes 10,000 hours of intensive practice to achieve mastery of complex skills and materials" principle (which, as it turns out, research shows isn't actually true) but talent and inspiration and studying the craft and having something important to say are just as important, if not more so, than mindlessly grinding out random wordage. Trying to write everyday, even for those priviledged and able enough to find the time and energy to do it, can be more frustrating, demoralizing and counter-productive than doing nothing for months on end if that doesn't happen to be the magic bullet for you.

I speak from experience. When doing my dissertation, I sat bum on seat 14 hours a day and accomplished nothing for nearly two years. Finally, in frustration, I asked author and editor Candas Jane Dorsey for help. First thing she did was turn off my computer's monitor so I couldn't obsessively edit every word I wrote. Second, she had me shadow her for a workday. There was no set time or quota for her writing. She spent a relaxed day doing other stuff. But then, at a party she was hosting that evening, she responded to something another writer at her salon said, and she said, "That's it" and disappeared upstairs to write because she had an idea, not because it was "time". And she accomplished more in 90 minutes than I had done on any 14 hour day. I stopped doing bum on seat and adopted a more 'relaxed' approach and that worked for me.

May not work for you.

But shaming people for not writing a certain number of hours or words each day is in fact the shameful behaviour. It's destructive and ignorant and speaks to the speaker's privilege and their ablist and egocentric assumptions, so they need to be called out.

Thank you Cait for your excellent article for doing just that.

Thursday, September 15, 2022