Another Pep Talk [for Writers]

Hello writer. Hello author. Hello scribe.

Today is Friday, 13th. Let me ask you, are you superstitious?

I am. Not about Friday, 13th, but about Thursday, 12th. Yesterday, I wasn’t aware that it was Thursday, 12th, but today I can say: oh, that’s why. Yeah. Because I couldn’t get it quite right yesterday. The writing thing.

You know those days, don’t you? You know moments like this. You know the time when one sentence drives you up a wall. For whatever reason. Sometimes it’s just not working, other times it’s a reason in your head. Like a superstition:

“I can’t write today, because I woke up facing north.” “I can’t write today, because my favorite pen’s gone missing. No, I don’t care that I write on my computer, I can’t write until I found my pen.” “I can’t write today, because it’s my birthday, and writing on birthdays is especially bad luck.” “I can’t write today…”

Those reasons are in our head, and they’re all bullshit. Like “I can’t write today, because it’s Friday, 13th. I’ll hide under my blanket all day, hoping that nothing heavy falls on my head.” Of course, it’s non-sensical, but think about how many people in your live reference this day as an unlucky one and you’ll get an idea how powerful superstitions can be.

As human beings we make things up in our heads all the time. Not necessarily stories (not everybody is able to do that), but theories, memories, whatever. And especially theories can make us stray from our writing path. “I have this theory that before I can write a novel about Paris in 1786, I have to research everything that happened that year, not just in France, but everywhere. I need to know the name of every person who lived and died in Paris that year, etc. etc. etc.” You’ll never write that novel, friend.

I’m not saying, don’t do research. Research is important, but don’t let your theory of how much research you should do keep you from writing. There’s a difference between accurate and over-prepared. There’s also a difference between being a writer and being a person who maybe one day wants to write a novel, or maybe a short story, or an essay.

You are a writer. You do your chores thinking about fictional characters’ lives. You sit down, tapping away on your computer. You never walk anywhere without a notebook. And if you, by some miracle, are found without paper and pen, you borrow, you buy, (I’m not saying you steal, but maybe you’ve been desperate once or twice, I don’t judge). Because you’re a writer.

And as a writer, you have to be resistent to those voices in your head telling you ten to twenty good reasons every day to not write. To do other things instead. To go out meet friends. To call your mom, telling her you’re gonna visit soon. To quickly go to the grocery store, because you can’t possibly write without some snack, and chocolate, maybe a beer (don’t drink and write, folks). To get a (non-Christian) soy latte from Starbucks. You don’t need it, but you want it. And, goddamn, you’re gonna get it and then you write 3,500 words in one go, unless…and there’s going to be an unless. And if it’s only in your head.

The world does not revolve around your writing. Nobody cares if you write 1,000 words or 2,000, or maybe 7,000 today. So why should you?

Well, because your world revolves around your writing. Because writing is art, is expression, is culture. And human beings can’t live without either of those things. Because someone is gonna read what you’ve written, and even though you may not change that person’s life, you’ve given them something unique, and special, something spending time with.

You’re a writer and your text is worth more than all the reasons you can come up with to not write today.

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