“Write Every Day”

And More Advice That I Don’t Follow

Photo by Daniel Herron on Unsplash

“I have an idea. I’m going to write a post every week. It’ll be quick — just something to keep the creative juices flowing.”

That was me and that was my goal for 2021. “Minute Mondays” is what I called it — quick thoughts on anything that was happening that week or whatever I had going on that day. Due every Monday. For a year. I fantasized about what the carefully curated set of 50-something (I planned on taking the occasional Monday off) posts would look like.

“Maybe I could make it into a book!”

“Maybe the best ones will get picked up by a few publications!”

“Maybe they’ll go viral!”

I looked at some of the Medium stories with the most claps, highlights, and responses. Each one, (that I found in my minimal, wouldn’t even cut it in Kindergarten, research) was short, to the point, and had some element of humor. So, that’s what I decided to do. Those stories are funny and I’m funny. This will be great.

“Sounds good.” That was my supportive, and extremely honest (we’ll get to that), wife.

With the plan set, I started to write. First, there was the explanation of Minute Mondays and my New Year’s resolutions. Then a story about not feeling like writing on MLK Day, yet still writing on MLK day. Then I wrote about cats. Yes, cats. C-A-T-S.

I don’t write every day. I may not even write every week. I like to write about racism, poverty, toxic masculinity, and emotions that leave me winded once they’re poured onto a page.

This is the part where you wonder, do I even have a cat, or do I have a sick obsession with cats, so much so that I find neighborhood strays, just to lick their fur and quietly purr myself to sleep? No and no. I don’t have a cat and that’s what I wrote about. It was a list of the pros and cons of cats and, my reasoning for not owning one, aside from being deathly allergic. The piece was short, chuckle-worthy, and even culminated with the ultimate reason for not having cats being the scientifically proven fact that they are pure evil.

That story was trash.

I can’t even really call it a story as much as an exercise in futility. I was on the fence about hitting publish, but when I did my tune changed. Coworkers, some friends, and acquaintances ate it up.

“Haha, I hate cats,” “Cats are the worst,” and “You don’t deserve a cat,” were some of my favorite responses. However, the best response came from my honest and unpaid editor, my wife. She hadn’t read this one before I hit publish, but she provided feedback when I asked.

“I don’t like it. It feels like you wrote it for other people. Like, what’s the point?”

I knew that it was coming. She agreed that it was technically sound. It included elements of humor, was grammatically correct, and the structure flowed. For her, the writing wasn’t the problem; it was the lackluster content.

“Honestly, I just needed something quick to write. I don’t even give a shit about cats.”

“I know,” she continued. We talked some more about my writing goals, the things that I ultimately want to write about, and the things that excite me. The cat thought-piece wasn’t it, so I took it down.

I told her about my recent reading on needing to write every day, hitting publish no matter what, and the steps that you need to take to become a good writer. I thought that by forcing myself to hit publish every Monday, I’d be doing more to support my goals and build an audience that would ultimately read my longer, more well-thought-out pieces. The problem was that those tips didn’t work for me. Neither did publishing bullshit.

As a writer, it’s easy to find someone’s ten steps to success or their tried and true strategies for building a rhythm and an audience of millions. What’s difficult is finding out what works best for you. I’m not a well-known writer, nor have I been doing this for decades. Any advice that I give, should be taken with much more than a grain of salt. But, that is how I feel about all advice about something as subjective as writing. There’s no singular formula that’s proven to work for everyone. All you have is what works for you.

I don’t write every day. I may not even write every week. I like to write pieces about racism, poverty, toxic masculinity, and emotions that leave me winded once they’re poured onto a page. I process moments in my life and strangle the meaning out of them, dropping ounces of me into each paragraph. I write the shit that I like to read — the stories that you nod your head to, shed a tear for, or hold your gut in pain to as your eyes dance to the rhythm of the words. I write to feel and need to feel to write. For me, that means living and seeking new experiences. It means reading whenever I can, and thinking through ways to tell stories. It means engaging in conversations with others who are like-minded and those that know nothing about my perspective. I see all of those things as opportunities to sharpen my tools so that when I do write, my stories cut deeper every time.

I went into 2021 thinking that I had the formula for success and all I had to do was follow it. I quickly learned that writing humbles you and makes you open pivoting to what feels right.

For 2022, I expect more of the same.

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