I'm about to add this to our current list of disclaimers. Please feel free to take a look at all of them, but it seems like this one is growing in necessity, especially as the cold and hard realities of the pandemic exacerbate everyone's mental and emotional difficulties and require folks give themselves some extra self-care as well as latitude for not being "productive."
The Unforgiving Reality of "Making It" as a Writer
I write to a broad audience. Certain advice here at Writing About Writing (such as writing every day) is a panacea to all of the most common difficulties for which people often request advice. While questions about how to monetize a blog or publish a short story might have specific answers, general questions like how to "make it" or how to "improve" [which I get multiple times a day] all have the same basic answer. In fact, this question has the same basic answer in any of the arts (or any entertainment): practice. Musicians, sculptors, painters, actors, and writers––they all practice…often for years before they go public. And while gains can be made in any discipline with periodic or even sporadic practice, professional artists almost unswerving try to practice daily (or very nearly so). While I make every effort to acknowledge the ableism of prescribing daily writing without caveat, the grind of capitalism to make finding time to work on one's art difficult or impossible, or the absurdity of arbitrating the title of "real writer" on anyone, I cannot alter the fundamental realities of how demanding the journey will be to get better at art. Certainly not if the goal is to quit one's day job and survive capitalism by doing art, and absolutely not if one's goal is to be well beloved by, in the case of writing, the reading community. No one in any career––athlete, surgeon, chef, actor, or writer––will achieve the status of renowned in their field without a lot of long hours and probably more than a few weekends. Many household name writers write every day (or six days a week). [Just as many musicians practice every day and many painters sketch constantly.] Call it harsh advice or a hard pill to swallow or just a reality check. I can acknowledge that the obstacles, but I can't change the world in which those are the people who have what many would-be writers want.
Please don't assume that I think everyone should or even CAN give this much dedication to their writing. I just don't know of any shortcuts to the things so often cited as goals. (Comfortable careers as working writers or legions of fans.) And most writers absolutely need to hear (over and over and over again) that their main problem is that they're NOT applying their asses to a chair and they further need the splash of cold water that they're not going to achieve those career-caliber dreams if they're putting in weekend warrior effort.
But seriously. Your health is more important––mental or physical. Your dreams can only survive the pandemic if you do.
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