I recently read a note somewhere that said something about writing every day being invaluable because either 1) you’re writing really awesome stuff or 2) you’re writing garbage.
It took me some time to really let that sink in. I’ve been writing every day for quite a long streak now, the longest I’ve ever had, and some of what I write is totally garbage. Like a private journal entry, some of what comes out is negative bitchy commentary on the state of my life (or the lives of people I interact with), some of it is positive commentary on the same, some of it is awesome dirt where some idea will take seed and grow, and some of it is just the random crap in my head.
But then I realized how valuable writing about all the crap is.
Because once I write about it, it’s not in my head anymore.
If I get it out, if I write it down, it’s not in my head anymore. It’s no longer an open loop, circling around and keeping me awake at night. It’s not something I’m worrying about. It’s not on my mind anymore at all. It’s out.
And even the crap needs to get out. If the garbage piled up in my home, I would freak out. I need the garbage to get out on a regular basis to keep my home smelling nice and feeling nice.
The same goes for my internal house. If I let the garbage in my head pile up, I do, in fact, tend to freak out. I get writer’s block. I get stuck. I worry incessantly. I’m more prone to panic or anger or upset. But when I let the garbage out on a regular basis, I feel calmer, more refreshed, more at ease. I worry less. I get stuck far less often. And, I’m more likely to write the awesome stuff more easily, because I’m sitting down to write more frequently. If the only time you ever sit down to write is when you haven’t written in a while, all that garbage slams up against the forefront of your brain and the good stuff gets buried. But if you sit down and write every day, the garbage gets taken out when it needs out, and the awesome stuff has room to flow freely.
There’s something to this daily practice, after all.
It’s also refreshing and relaxing to stop expecting all my writing to be awesome. At first, awesomeness poured out because I’d had it corked for so long. But then, after the initial burst of awesome, the garbage that had been piling up for months reared it’s ugly stinky head, and I spent several days writing crap – and being really, really unhappy about it. But once I gave it thought, once I realized that taking the garbage out is part of the natural process of establishing a daily practice – and is, indeed, part of a continual daily practice – I chilled out. It’s part of the process. It happens to all of us.
And that helped me stop expecting 750 Golden Words Of Awesome Love And Light™. I was expecting to sit down and write out my 750 words and have it be one long amazing post I could pop in the blog, sans editing or any further effort on my part.
Ha! Not likely. And once I dropped that expectation, I found that I could easily mine my daily writing for good stuff – the beginnings of longer posts, or even short posts within the bigger writing. I think, as writers, we get into the expectation that every thing we ever write must be perfect and wonderful and fit for unedited public consumption – but that’s malarkey. Even the most prolific writers need editors, and even the best, brightest, and most talented writers write crap now and then. It’s a natural part of the process.
The important part of being a writer is to write. Write from your heart, write from your brain, write if it sucks, write if it’s amazing. Write every single day, no matter what. Take the garbage out, let it go, and the rest will fall into place.