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have worked for the better part of 15 years as a paid writer…but prior to that, I was already the author of a couple of unpublished novels, and working on a third.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.

Radio, Radio

Last month, I had the pleasure of being the guest on a terrific radio show for authors: the Joy on Paper program hosted by PatZi Gil. PatZi was kind enough to invite me on the show to talk not only about my third novel Miles of Files, but also about my company, Sahno...

Who You Gonna Call? or Being Your Own Tech Support

I wrote my third novel between about 2007 and 2015. I can’t say it took a full eight years to write – I got stuck in the final third for a couple years – but it was an ambitious project. I’d gone from a third person novel to a first person novel, and now I was going...
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....
storm

Sometimes All You Can Do Is Rock With The Storm

A while back, I was having a very bad Monday, and wrote a blog post called Roll With The Punches, Baby! The idea was that sometimes you win, sometimes you lose; sometimes life hands you a bouquet of flowers, other times, a punch in the mouth. On that particular...
coronavirus

Nobody Likes Being Sick—But The Coronavirus Is Making People Scared Of Even Getting Sick

​Readers of this blog undoubtedly know I sometimes create Monday posts geared toward providing helpful info, but also sometimes use it as my personal ranting space. Today's post is the latter, but it's going to be a short one. No, I don't have the coronavirus, but...
holidays

Closed For The Holidays

This week's blog post isn't about writing or reading or even about having a great holiday. It's about self-care. Ordinarily, I don't create an entire blog post about being closed for the holidays, but this year I'm making an exception. I used to work for a company...

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...
ebook

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...
catholic school

I Survived Catholic School

This post isn’t meant to be provocative, though I understand my readers who also happen to be good Catholics might see it that way. No, it’s something else altogether.Years ago, it wasn’t unusual to hear someone talking about how the nuns hit their knuckles with...