Part of being a writer is applying for things. Classes, residencies, programs, funding, all that. These applications ask for all kinds of letters and statements–personal, financial–mini essays that suck to have to write. Except they don’t have to suck.
As I was writing one today, it dawned on me that I could see these little professional documents as a pain, or I could see them as reminders of why I’m doing this. Each one requires that we articulate what makes us keep writing. It’s good to remember why we persist.
Look at it that way?
Recently, my friend Paul and I started a super writing challenge. We both have books we want to finish by the end of summer, so we decided to meet at our favorite brewery once a week holding the chapter (15 pages min) we wrote that week. Whoever doesn’t finish the chapter has to buy the other a beer. We’re meeting tonight and happily purchasing just our own beers.
As someone who’s taken a lot of workshops, my biggest challenge as a writer has been getting out of binge-for-the-deadline mode. Basically, if the story was due Tuesday, I’d start working on Friday and put in 18 hours before Tuesday to finish it. This writing challenge with Paul has graced me with the blessed deadline, but I don’t have stretches of six hours to binge like I used to. Besides, I can’t really binge-write a novel. I have to write every day.
This reminds me of something I learned when I took a Tai Chi class in college (for credit!):
If you do it every day, you’ll be able to.
This applies to playing the guitar (calluses build), and running (lungs strengthen), but surprise! It also works really well for writing.
Added bonus of writing every day: we have the luxury of getting into it by going over the pages we wrote the day before.