I’m sure I must have written about this before now, but I’m going to do it again. Partly because it’s important to me, partly because I can write about it, and a lot to help any budding writers, poets, artists, sculptors, musicians etc out there who get down about “not being serious about their art”.
This is a ridiculous phrase used by the insecure, the untalented and the elitist.
Recently I’ve been seeing a lot of posts on forums like Reddit concerning a “daily word count” produced. I imagine those in different areas of creativity have something similar – weekly songs written, poems written, work done or whatever. Like there’s some kind of minimum level of work someone has to do to class themselves as a real writer (fill: artist type). What a ridiculous notion! How incredible people can think that!
Apparently I should try to write 500 words every day. More if I can, but 500 words as a minimum. If I don’t reach this target, do I stop being a writer? Am I only classified as a writer on days I reach this minimum? Do I have to re-earn the title every day, like it’s a temporary benefit that’s given on a short term basis and disappears when I go to sleep each night? What a positively preposterous existential statement!
Sometimes I go a week without writing a single creative word – excluding insults in game chat. But then my powers as a creative artist return when I use them again! As long as I reach this arbitrary limit – and arbitrary is the right and correct word; who came up with this figure? Who, if anyone, actually has a right to decide upon this figure? And what, if anything, gives them that right?
No one and nothing, in my opinion. I am a writer. I write, as often as I can and whenever I want. Is it my career? No. This simply means that I am an amateur writer rather than professional, i.e. I am not paid for it. I was read a quote – forgive me if this citation is incorrect, but most quotes from Mightier Than the Sword come from this source – from Stephen King who said that as soon as you are paid for one piece of writing, you can count yourself as a professional writer. A bold claim, but he’s in a position to make those, and since it aids my argument I’ll use it here. Until then, you’re an amateur. But you are still a writer!
Personally I would count myself as ‘professional’ once I earn enough money from writing to pay rent, food and bills. This is a while away, unless something drastically changes. That doesn’t discourage me from writing. Sure, I dream about being a successful professional and somewhat famous author, but the fact that I’m not one currently doesn’t stop me writing – or being a writer. And it should stop any other artist at all.
So if you are a writer, and want to be called one, tell people you are. Sure, if you don’t write it might be hard to prove. If you find it hard to write then yes, the daily five hundred word guide people talk about helps you get underway – personally I find it tough to only write five hundred words once I sit down, and I think that’s the idea. It gets you writing, gets your creative juices flowing, and helps you get your story going.
That is why I suggest you write as often as you can, so that you are writing often. Got a dry spell? Wait for it. Find some time. Don’t get depressed about it. It’s like exercise; you can always do it. Sure, practice makes it easier and makes you better at it but never, ever think for a single second that you can’t. If you’re lacking motivation, writing a short sequence can help you find some. If you don’t know how to put your story in words again, a short starter sequence helps get that creative engine growling.
So put pen to paper whenever you can. Don’t stop until you have to. And tell everyone you’re an artist so you can’t escape having to produce the art you want to be famous for. Take a break every now and then, but don’t worry; you’ll always have your powers.