Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Saturday, October 11, 2014

When "write" can mean "write anything"

I use a dayplanner to keep track of all the writing stuff that I do. It also comes in handy for deadlines. If I have a deadline looming, I make notes in my dayplanner to work on that assignment until it’s due. (It helps to note the due date.) I also plan stuff out for the week to help me move through things faster, as well as to get something done in time for submission. (And usually, that works.)

One other thing I note in my dayplanner? The reminder to “write.”

Usually, this reminder carries with it a certain book project I have going on. “Write in the ol’ WIP,” my reminder would say. Or, I’d note exactly which WIP it is that I need to write in. And, yes, I have to remind myself about it, because I normally have so much going on that I forget that, oh yeah, I’m writing a BOOK!

Last week, however, when I followed through on that reminder to write, I didn’t exactly write in my WIP. I wrote in another book. Or, sometimes I wrote a book review and crossed off that reminder to write. Or if it wasn't a book review, it was a poem or a blog post. I still wrote something, just not for a WIP that I originally created that reminder for.

The way I see it, as long as I am writing something, anything, then it counts as writing. I don’t mean emails or tweets or Facebook status updates. I mean actual writing. Something that I thought up and put into words all by myself. The bottom line is that I kept up the habit to write something every day, no matter what it was that I wrote.

Why is it important to keep writing as much as possible? Because the more you write, the better you will write. You have to keep working with words. Your writing talent is like a muscle: It gets stronger with every use. So it is important to write every day to stay in the business of working with words. Or, if not every day, then every free minute. This is why I keep that reminder to write there. If I haven't written anything at all and suddenly (gasp!) the kids are asleep, the house is clean and I'm all by myself...then, hey! That's a great opportunity to write!

Yes, that reminder to write is meant to serve as a tap on the shoulder to work on a book, but I don’t like forcing myself to write in a book if there's nothing to write. I won't push myself on that. But I will write something, anything, and call it a day. Because as long as I keep writing every day, I know I’ll get back into a system of writing in one of the book projects I have going on.

I still wrote, and that still counts. 

And the best part about this is that I can keep track of how often I am writing, as well as how often I’m not. If I go days without writing, that’s when I have to ask myself what’s wrong. Why am I not writing as much as I used to? Is my schedule too crazy? Am I blocked? Have I run out of ideas for things to write?

Or is it possible a certain book project has been neglected for too long?

By keeping track of how much writing I do, and don’t do, I can gauge where I am going with my writing and if I’m giving enough priority to this daily habit. Yes, the research for book projects is important. Yes, working on putting other manuscripts together is important. Yes, the writing gig is important. Yes, time to read a book I’m reviewing for Night Owl Reviews is important. But so is the writing. Ultimately, being able to write.

So if I fall behind on writing anything at all, that’s when I need to start examining my schedule and figuring out what it is holding me back from writing. By doing so, I can get back on track and get back to writing every day. This will lead to writing in one of my WIPs again.

So, yes, the reminder to write helps because it keeps me writing. And anything can count as “writing,” because at least I will still be writing.

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