I came across a post on Twitter today called, “The Worst Writing Advice You’ve Ever Heard.” I don’t know if I want to comment on that, but I do have something else in mind.

Probably the biggest cliché writers will ever hear is a variation on Write every day. When I was in graduate school, I took a course with a semi-famous published author who asked the class, on day one, “Are you all writers? You all write every day?”

I took that second question personally. My internal answer was something like, “Well, um…no…not every day.”

And then I felt guilty about it.

I suspect that it takes a particular kind of empathy to understand just how bizarre my internal guilt really was. I was a student. Majoring in writing. I had never been paid a dime for writing anything, and would not, for years afterwards. But what I did have was what the late great John Gardner so articulately called compulsive drivenness. I was a poet, a songwriter, and a short story writer, and would soon become a novelist.

Today, I’m a full-time professional writer. I have worked for the better part of 15 years as a paid writer…but prior to that, I was already the author of a couple of unpublished novels, and working on a third. Those novels are all available today thanks to stick-to-itiveness, compulsive drivenness, and a very understanding wife.

So what’s wrong with the “write every day” advice?

Nothing, if you need that sort of thing to motivate you. Nothing, if you’re writing stuff for quick, ready consumption.

But if you’re already compulsively driven to write, and will keep on writing year after year, whether you get paid for it or not, you don’t need that advice. In fact, I’d argue that you should try to forget you ever heard it.

When I started writing each of my first two novels, I was working full-time for somebody else. I was a writer only in my own world. Was I any less of a writer? Did I suddenly cease to be a writer when I took a day off from it? When I went on vacation, or just read a book, or looked out the window?

No.

And yet…because I am an introvert and an empath and a poet, because I am a writer of literary fiction whose primary goal is art, not commerce, I took that advice far too much to heart. I slaved over my books like a madman, but when I took a break – because I needed one, or because I feared the well had run dry – I felt guilty for not writing.

A wise man once said to me, “Screw guilt.” I say to you, “Screw guilt.” If you’re going to write, you’ll do it. Job or no job, wife or no wife, inspiration or no inspiration. And if you take off a day, or even a week, you might come back refreshed. You might come back better than ever. I know I have.

Sick

But What If I’m Sick?

Last month my wife and I went to Thailand for a two-week vacation. This was my first real vacation in over two years, and my wife Sunny’s first visit back to her family in her country of origin in even longer. So we really needed and, I think, deserved it. And...

Facebook vs. Twitter

The news that Microsoft will be acquiring LinkedIn just sent shockwaves through the social media world, immediately leading to speculation about Twitter. Is it going to be next? We all assume that Facebook is not for sale, but in our topsy-turvy media world, I suppose...
unwind

Five Ways to Unwind On Sunday

Okay, so it's Monday now, and Sunday's already gone. I get it. I really do. But I thought a good blog post this week would be on how to unwind - not just on Sunday but on any day off. What my wife calls a "holiday." That could be Sunday for you, or the 4th of July,...
feeling goofy

Feeling A Little Bit Better

There's an old, very bad joke that goes something like this: It was Christmas, and everyone was feeling merry; so Mary went home. Then everyone jumped for joy, but Joy jumped out the window. I know those only work when spoken aloud, and in the #MeToo era, it's a...
followers

Frances Caballo on Why You Should Never Buy Twitter Followers or Facebook Likes

I don't often feature guest posts on my blog, but today's post is a special exception. Social media guru Frances Caballo graciously accepted my invitation to guest here.If you don't know Frances, you should: she's the author of numerous books on social media for...
can we talk

Can We Talk?

I don't know how many of my blog readers are familiar with Joan Rivers—possibly not that many—but there was a time when the catchphrase Can we talk? was known to just about every adult in America. Joan may be gone, but it seems like people are talking more than ever....
Martin

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2018

Here's wishing everyone a safe, sane Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. For many of us, today is something of a day of mourning: not only mourning the loss of a great civil rights leader, but also mourning the turn our great nation seems to have taken in the last year and a...
blog posts

Author Newsletters

I'll be the first to admit I am not an expert on author email newsletters. However, I believe they're important, and I try to be on top of mine every month. Today's blog post is about that. Normally I send out a newsletter to my email list each month on the 6th. Not...

Memorial Day 2019

I don't have a special message for Memorial Day. I never do.In fact, looking back through the archives for previous years' messages, I see I don't have any. Maybe I deleted them to save space on the server. Perhaps I deleted something in an effort to avoid courting...
speaking

On the Road: The Speaker’s Life

A few months ago, I wrote a post about annoying current expressions like having said that and at the end of the day. That post came up in conversation this past weekend on a long, long trek to Miami and back. You see, when you spend nine or ten hours in a car with...