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“Writers write.”

Yes. That makes sense.

“Writers have to write every day.” “If you aren’t writing every day, you aren’t a real writer.”

That one? I need to call bullshit on that or at least pull it apart a little. Look, I get the concept of “professional” and “hobbyist” and I understand that even well-known, established authors are working their arthritic fingers to the bone to keep up with deadlines and bolster sales numbers, etc. I’ve heard all the things about day jobs and squeezing life dry and passion.

Here’s the thing, tough: Not everyone’s wired the same. One person may write 1000 words a day. Another 500. Someone else 5000. Someone else may eek out 100. The person who pounds out 5000 may have to edit those 5000 twenty times or once. The person who puts down 100 may never have to touch them again. Joe may write 250 words every morning when he wakes up. Jane may wait until weekends and write 2000 during Susie’s karate class and Sam’s swim lesson. Is her 2000 less than his 1750 because it wasn’t done “every day” but all at once? Should we admonish her for not generating more because she only used one day out of the week?

Now, we allow that some people are “plotters” and some people are “pantsers.” Well, except that we’ll let the plotters set aside days or weeks to “plan” and call that planning writing. They’re committing thoughts and words to the story; it’s just not in the draft yet. Yet, if pantsers take a day off in the middle of the week to figure out where the story’s going, they’ve “broken consistency.” They’re off the word-churning wagon and we take their chips away. They feel they need twice as many words the next day to make up for their slacking.

Nanowrimo kind of works on this principle: you can plot before November, but come November 1, you better be putting down any random words you find in your head. And we all admit that’s a bit disingenuous. That those “novels” need plenty of editing before they make sense. And by the same token, the biggest proponents of “write everyday” admit that “you can’t fix a blank page” so just write anything. Sometimes that’s valuable. Sometimes, not so much. Sometimes reading something, taking a walk, pondering the possibilities of the plot is a better use of time — so that the stuff you throw on the blank page tomorrow has a better chance of not being deleted the day after.

Then again, what do I know? I’m nobody.

Well, what I do know is that we don’t use this yardstick for other professions. No one tells a lawyer that if she goes to the beach with her family she’s no longer a “lawyer” if she’s not filing motions from her lounge chair. No one tells a shopkeeper he isn’t a “real shop owner” if he takes the day off to drive his wife to outpatient surgery and leaves his employees in charge. No one suggests my husband isn’t a GIS expert when we’re road tripping and he’s letting me navigate.

Is this blog post “writing”? Some say journaling counts. Some say poetry counts. Some say the only writing that counts is the words added to your WIP.

Eh, don’t ask me. I’m not a real writer.

But maybe we should be taking advice with that proverbial grain of salt and worrying about our own goals and less about the dictates of naysayers.