|Janet Jackson: What Have You Done For Me Lately|
That's a LOT of 80s in one picture.
Based on the unexpected runaway success of yesterday's post, I have a small exercise in affirmation and positivity that I think most writers would find useful–especially if they're going through a time in their lives when it's not as easy to pour some serious dedication into their work in progress. Of course we're never going to make money and pay bills and certainly never get rich and famous writing Facebook posts and strongly worded letters to products that have disappointed us, but there is also a place to be made for remembering that "Write Every Day" is a piece of advice that is based on keeping a skill set sharp–a skill set that can atrophy with disuse. Not every day of that daily writing is always going to involve ten hours of your very best effort on your Great American Novel.
A lot of athletes understand this concept. When they are unable to train for their big event for reasons ranging from personal issues to injury, they still do a little something to stay in shape. It's no substitute for training, but they know that letting their bodies go completely would be even worse.
Write down a list of everything you have written in the last 72 hours (three days). Don't just count the word or page count for things you consider to be headed for publication one day. Include e-mails, Facebook posts, journals, letters, character sketches (the written ones), outlining, product reviews. Even put your chats to people if they involved more than dinner plans, emoji, and "LOL."
Tally up every single thing you've written. If it's possible, get a word count or rough word count of it all.
Guess at the pages this would be. (A double spaced typed page is roughly 250 words.)
It's very important to write out this list. Conceptualizing a few things in your head will not have the same effect. You need to be looking at a hard copy of all the things you have written and be able to see them stretched out from end to end.
Now, this is the hard part:
Take a deep breath (very deep) and remind yourself that this is writing. It won't get you published. It won't get you paid. It probably won't get you groupie threesomes. But it will keep a skill from going dull. And if you're not in a place where you have the time, the energy, the luxury of sitting down to work on your magnum opus, it will do the trick in a pinch to keep you sharp.
And when your life is a little more forgiving and you can get back to that thing you're dying to work on, you will not have to start over with remembering which end of the pen goes down.