On Writing

Anne Lamott says what everyone says, really. If you want to be a writer, you’ve got to write. Not just read books on How To Write, not just go to workshops or watch YouTube videos. You’ve got to sit down, face the blank sheet of paper or the empty computer screen, and start. Write at least 300 words a day. For me, I’m used to the discipline of NaNoWriMo, which requires 1,667 words a day. So 300 words is just piffle in the wind, it’s a doddle. And I am a writer. I don’t write every day, maybe. But I write often enough not to be afraid of the empty page, or to feel I haven’t got anything to say. I write something in my diary every day. Just a record of what we did – not much of anything, certainly very little that’s exciting, during these terrible weeks and months of lockdown – sometimes what I’m reading or eating, usually what we’ve watched on Netflix or BBC iPlayer or Amazon Prime. You need a record of those things so that you don’t watch the same episodes next week. A record of important medical events, like when I last spoke to nice Doctor Melanie about – well, that’s why I need a record of it, because there are just so many health things nowadays. I write sermons. Sometimes I even write blog posts, though I’m currently ‘between blogs’. Trying to withdraw from the tyranny and expense of WordPress, not yet sure whether write.as will be a permanent home, or whether I even want to carry on blogging at all. So often it feels like throwing my words into a storm that sweeps them away into the stratosphere where no one will hear them or read them. Between all of this, I can always find ways to write stuff. It means I’m not very sympathetic when I hear about people who want to write (or to ‘be writers’) and then complain, “But what can I write about?” Anne Lamott has some good advice about that. Just write about life, the first thing you see when you look out of the window, your first memories, whatever.

That’s my 300+ words for today. There, that wasn’t so hard, was it?