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Why “Write Anyway”?

I bet even Shakespeare thought his writing sucked, sometimes.

“A writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway.”

That’s a quote from Junot Diaz, and I like the way he thinks. (Okay, the grammar’s a little awkward, but even so.) I’ve come to use the phrase “write anyway” as a mantra, and by “mantra,” I mean “the thing I shout at myself when I’m hiding under my dining room table because what I’m writing is so terrible I feel like I don’t deserve to sit in a chair like a human being.” While doing so, I try not to think about how young Junot Diaz was when he hit it big and how many years I managed to waste and AAAIGH. (This is how my brain tortures me.)

The only thing that will help you to write is writing itself. We all know this, right? This is basic stuff. You have to write. You have to write, if you want to write. There’s no way around it. You can’t think your way into a novel being created. You can’t imagineer a blog that will capture the hearts and minds of the general public unless you put words down. You have to write it.

Write anyway. Write even if:

–your pen isn’t the pen you like and you can’t find the pen you like
–you don’t have a room of your own and Virginia Woolf was pretty clear on that point
–your fourth grade teacher gave you low marks for creativity
–you have maybe five minutes to spare among the the 30-frillion errands you have to run
–you’re writing for revenge and you’re not sure that that’s a pure enough reason
–you had a really good idea but you forgot it and now you’re in mourning
–you wrote something and a total stranger made fun of it on the Internet
–you wrote something and your mom made fun of it on the Internet
–you think you probably have the flu and isn’t there a thing about “starve a cold, try to rest your fingers when you have the flu”?
–you have some really important Facebook business to attend to
–you suddenly feel overwhelmingly sleepy and you should probably Google “sudden overwhelming sleepiness” because maybe you contracted something on that trip you took to the beach last weekend
–you’re terrified that you suck
–no, really, you have to Google these symptoms, like, now
–you forgot to pick up your kids at school

All right, you get a pass for that last one. But after you pick up the kid(s) whose existence(s) you momentarily forgot, I want to see some writing happen. I’m not here for my health, you know. (All right, I’m sort of here for my health.)

What keeps you from writing (anyway)? Write it down. Write down every last tiny annoyance that keeps you from writing. Everything. That paper cut on your ring finger. (Who can type with a PAPER CUT?) The blog post you have to comment on right now. (The world is waiting to hear your opinion!) Keep listing those excuses. Hey, look at you, you’re writing! Shhh, don’t let your brain know. It’ll probably find some reason you need to stop. Brains are pesky that way.

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