Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Forgive me, Stephen, for I have sinned...

It's been seven days since I last worked on Imperial Demons. According to the rules clearly laid out in your Daily Beast article, this means I must now abandon the project, because...I don't know, effort is pain and makes my skin hurt, or something.

Now, look, I don't normally write blog posts aimed at writers. I want to make this a place for my readers by and large, but sometimes I read something so dumb and potentially damaging to writers that I just think...ah, fuck it. This is one of those times.

Let's get the obvious thing out of the way first. Of course consistency matters if you want to finish a book. This is true whether you're seeking publication or not. However, putting it out there that if you don't write Every. Single. Day, you're doomed to failure and obviously not committed and should go train to be a lawyer instead, and will be trampled over by a hoard of more committed, deserving authors, is just dumb and moreover, false.

For one thing, everyone's schedule is different. My day job takes me out of the house between 7am and 6pm five days a week. I run an Etsy shop that, tallied up, probably takes another seven-fourteen hours out of my free time every week when it's open full-time. I have a persistent and pretty much unfixable problem with both arms/shoulders that often leaves me in tremendous pain and physically unable to write some days. So no, I don't write every day. You know what?

It doesn't fucking matter. I still finish books and I get them out there for readers. I know writers who have way more complicated schedules and lives than mine, and they do the same, because they get that what matters isn't Write Every Day Or Else, but Just Fucking Write. You do have to make time, definitely. But if you can't make time seven days a week, 365 days a year, don't worry, and don't let people give you bad advice about that. Write in a way that works for you. For some people, that's 300 words every morning before the day job. For others it's 5k a day in between taking care of their kids. For some (like me), it's 5k a week (hopefully) around, like, eating and sleeping and making perfume and making sure my boss goes to the right country for conferences.

Writing is hard, sure, but real life is too, and what you need most is a solid understanding of what will work for you and the flexibility to adapt as life changes around you.

The other issue I take with the article is the assumption that unless you're writing for publication, and by publication clearly Stephen Hunter means traditional publishing, it's not worth it. That is bullshit. There are a lot of reasons to write, and for your own goddamned pleasure is just as valid as for a paycheck. You want to write that 100k space opera fanfic? Fucking go for it, and enjoy the hell out of it. You want to write with the aim of landing an agent and a movie deal? Fucking go for that too. You want to self-publish? Fucking go for that, and if you want to write fanfic and trad stuff and self-publish ALL AT THE SAME TIME, then yes, go the fuck for that! There is no correct way to be a writer, and no One True Path, and don't let anybody tell you different.*

There are a lot of places you can go for advice as a writer, regardless of what level of your career you're at. There are a lot of valid voices out there too, with experience in all aspects of the industry. Read around. Ask questions. Learn. But never, ever, ever listen to anyone who gives you reasons to stop writing. They are not on your side.

And now that's out of my system, I am in fact getting back to work on Imperial Demons. I mean, if I'm allowed...

*I mean, don't plagiarise anyone. That would be shit.

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