Seven months. Seven novel rough drafts. Several revisions. I have been working my butt off. It was my goal to finish another novel revision before February arrived so I could tackle the next novel in the new month.
And then this week my brain said, “NOPE!”
I opened up the file. I looked at all the notes from my editor. I should note that the edits are genuinely helpful and simple to follow, so this has nothing to do with her. But I looked at the notes and shut down.
Well, that’s fine. I can take a day off of writing. So I turned to other activities.
And then a second day of that.
And then a third.
It would be really easy for me to feel guilty here. After all, it’s almost assured I won’t make my goal now. Depending on what writers you pay attention to, if you want to be an author, you need to write every. Single. Day. And I have failed to do that this week.
I grew up in a musical household. One of the things I learned early on said (and I paraphrase here), “I must practice every day. If I fail to practice one day, I know it. If I fail to practice two days, my critics know it. If I fail to practice three days, the audience knows it.” (I looked it up; the original quote is from Jascha Heifetz.)
I have learned this drive to work every day. It’s a discipline, really, to work hard. I’ve said it before: Writing is work. That means it’s not always fun. Sometimes it takes discipline to achieve your goal.
And this week… well, I definitely didn’t reach my goal.
Does that mean I don’t have discipline? Should I give up the title of “writer”? After all, a writer is someone who writes. I wrote not at all this week!
I’ve got a few answers here.
First, days off are good. Yes, if I’m a writer, I need to write more days than I don’t write. However, burning out isn’t going to help my writing, either! So a few days? That’s not a failure.
Second, writing and professional music isn’t the same thing. Both are arts, and both create beauty. However, live professional musicians need to produce their music well each time they appear before an audience. Writers generally don’t perform the same way. Yes, we still create artistic products (at least in theory!), but we get to revise and revise and revise.
Third, my identity is not “writer.” It describes one of my roles, but I have a number of roles. I’m a husband, a father, a pastor, a comic reader, and many more things beside. Some days, one role will take more time and effort than others. Some days I need to be a father more than I need to be a writer. This week, I pursued a lot more ministry in my role as pastor than I have for a bit. So if I fail to be a writer for a little bit, I have no reason to freak out. I’ve not failed.
Now, all that said, it is time to get back to work with my writing. I do need to revise that novel before heading on to the next project. I took a few days off. It’ll be fine. You don’t have to write every day.
But it is good to write most if you’re going to be a writer!