“Do you write every day?” a student asked, when they emailed their latest assignment.
“Yes,” I replied.
“I wish I had the time to sit down and write every day. But some days I barely get ten minutes to myself.”
I could almost hear the sigh of despondency in her response. And then the penny dropped. (As some of you know, I can be quite slow on the uptake at times.) Many people assume that when I say I write every day it means I sit down and write a complete article, an entire short story or the whole chapter of my latest novel every day. I wish.
Don’t get me wrong. I do have days when a lot of writing gets done. Last Thursday, for example, I drafted the 1700 words for the next piece in my Writing Magazine column. But the day before I only wrote 20 words. Yes. Twenty. Not because I had the back of my hand clasped to my forehead in frustration at the failed appearance of the Muse that day. It was only 20 words because life got in the way.
It’s a new tax year, so I was experiencing the joys of gathering one’s paperwork together in preparation for the tax return. I also had to drive a relative to their appointment at the physiotherapy department. And the driveway was being tarmacked, which involved the noisiest and most earth-shuddering equipment known on the planet operating just a foot away on the other side of my office wall.
But I still managed 20 words. It was the opening to a short story. I haven’t got any further with that particular project at the moment, but hopefully, this week, I’ll be able to develop it further.
Even though it was only 20 words, it was still some writing. Writing every day doesn’t mean you have to write complete pieces. It just means … writing. Something. Anything.
The next time you’re waiting for a bus, or a train, get out a notepad and pen (or your notes app on your smartphone) and write something. Write the opening paragraph to an article, or a short story. Write six opening paragraphs. You don’t have to develop them all. But one might inspire you to carry on with it at a later date, when you have more time. Keep writing until the bus/train comes. Then, when you step on board, you can sit down with the smug satisfaction that you’ve done some writing today. (and why not continue writing, if you’re not too worried about missing your stop?)
It might not be much. But you have written. And that’s what makes people writers.