Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Every day or never

Have you ever noticed how many good-for-you things you're supposed to do once a week, or three times a week, or once a month? Nobody (well, almost nobody) insists that you exercise every day, or go to church every day, or clean your house, or reassess your goals. And yet, those are the things that seem to be the easiest to slide on, and the easiest to let go of. Miss going to a weekly meeting two weeks in a row, and suddenly going back seems like a monumental effort. Miss going to the gym for four days straight, and you stop even asking yourself if you have time to go to the gym.

For myself, it seems like the only sustainable pace for doing anything is "every day." If you have any choice in the matter, I will usually find myself putting it off -- whatever it is. Part of what has made my renewed commitment to writing as successful as it has been that I do it every day. (Ok, well, every day in a kind of flex-time, three-o'clock-in-the-morning-still-counts-as-yesterday kind of way.) As a result, I've developed a level of writing consistency that puts me in shooting distance of a professional routine. I haven't done that with exercise, and predictably my exercise is quite inconsistent -- maybe twice a week at most.

Interestingly, the every-day rule is especially pertinent for blogging, because readers are creatures of habit as much as writers. When you have a moment of downtime, and you're sitting in front of the computer, there are probably half-a-dozen sites that you might hit for quick read. (Mine are Dilbert, The Daily WTF, The Onion, Fanatical Apathy, and Hatrack River.) Interestingly, the order I check them (as listed) is not directly related to my level of interest in them, but in my subconscious understanding of how often they get updated. I know I will always get something new, every day, on Dilbert, even though I would much rather read an essay by Orson Scott Card. If you want to have readership, you have to produce every day.

So, what should you be doing every day?


Blogger Bob said...


Just a quick note to thank you for the much needed shot of inspiration. Every day huh?

Enjoy Sense and Soul -- one of my favorites from KW.

9:03 PM  
Blogger The Thin Man said...

Well, I'm speaking for myself . . . other people may not work the same way. For me, it has to be the vast majority of days, or I lose the thread and the urgency goes out of me. Stephen King said essentially the same thing about his writing: "I can't go more than a single day without writing, or I start to lose the book."

6:02 AM  

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