Sometimes, he blogs about the classism of “write every day.”

I wanted to write a response to part of this blog post, but I felt I should take several days to think about it first, just to make sure I wasn’t responding… wrongly.

It’s a great post, by the way, and you ought to read it, especially if you’re a writer or have a friend/family member who is.

Here’s the part I want to respond to/elaborate on:

Most of the lists of writing tips you see, most of the posts about “how to be a writer,” are written from a neurotypical perspective. An ableist perspective. (They’re often classist and sexist as well, and probably racist, but I’m white so I can’t speak to that.) When you’re struggling with a chronic illness, be it mental or physical, advice like “write every day” isn’t just worthless, it’s actively damaging. (Katherine Lampe)

So I thought about it a lot, and my original interpretation hasn’t changed: I don’t think “write every day — no excuses!” is inherently racist or sexist, but it is classist. A mother who works two jobs and barely makes enough money to feed herself and her children doesn’t have anything left over to pay a sitter so she’ll have some time to herself to work on a book. Telling her, “Well, if you were really serious about writing, you’d find a way,” only shows that you have no fucking clue what her life is like. She has to find time to write in brief, rare moments, and it’s a major achievement to get it done at all. What matters more in the end, anyway: that she wrote a good story that people enjoy reading, or that she wrote exactly 500 words between eight a.m. and noon each day?

Some people truly don’t have time to write every day, unless they give up even the little bit of sleep they normally get between working multiple jobs, etc. Expecting someone to ruin their health (which may not be so good to begin with) in order to prove that they’re a Real Writer ™… Y’know, that almost looks like the sort of thing some asshole would say deliberately to cause someone to ruin their health and have to stop writing entirely — good way to eliminate some of the competition, if you’re evil and insecure and all.

‘Oh, but people who have to work two full-time jobs to make ends meet aren’t trying to be writers anyway, because they don’t have enough education to know how to write.’ I’ve heard that one once or twice, too, and I’m torn between replying with, ‘Gee, the weather must be so nice on your planet,’ and ‘Stay the hell away from my blog, shithead.’ In case you still don’t understand it, let me say once again that formal education is not synonymous with intelligence, or even with academic aptitude. NOT SYNONYMOUS! Income level is not synonymous with intelligence. Formal education is not synonymous with being able to write well. (Having a degree in English/creative writing is not synonymous with being able to write well, either.) DO NOT assume a person working a low-wage job is less intelligent than you just because he/she makes less money, and DO NOT assume that person lacks the ability to write just because she/he may not have a university degree.

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About Thomas Weaver

I’m a writer and editor who got into professional editing almost by accident years ago when a friend from university needed someone to copyedit his screenplay about giant stompy robots (mecha). Having discovered that I greatly enjoy this kind of work, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use ever since as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom. I'm physically disabled, and for the past several years, I’ve lived with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have six cats. (The preferred term is "Insane Cat Gentleman.") I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
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3 Responses to Sometimes, he blogs about the classism of “write every day.”

  1. ziresta says:

    But if you don’t write x amount of words every single day, you’ll never be a Real Writer! This I know because I have been so informed, repeatedly, by people on the NaNoWriMo forums when I encourage people to go ahead and take a few days off if they’re feeling stressed or getting sick. Also, everybody can find time to write at least a few words a day. The same fount of wisdom has informed me of this.

    So I think by their logic . . . and, to be fair, I’ve seen it in many places outside those forums too . . . she should set a goal of even five words a day and do that, and isn’t a Real Writer unless she does so. Because you’re not a Real Writer unless you write some set amount every day, because otherwise you give yourself permission to not write and once you’ve done that, why, you’ll never write again!

    Personally, I’ve never understood how writing only five words a day accomplishes anything, but according to some people it’s better than waiting until you’ve got time and then writing a thousand words. I’ve written a one hundred and twelve word sentence before. In a nine hundred word paragraph. If I hadn’t been able to write that all at once, I don’t think it would’ve made sense by the end. (Okay, the sentence should’ve been two sentences and the paragraph possibly should’ve been broken up for the sake of readability, but it was a first draft so my point stands.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I REALLY don’t understand the “advice” to stop writing at a set word count even if it leaves you with a sentence unfinished. You COULD write at least a couple more chapters — you can feel the plot clamoring at the back of your brain, and there’s some great dialogue your protagonist wants to unleash on the unsuspecting mentor-type character, but you’ve hit your word count for the day, so all that other stuff has to wait for tomorrow and the next day and the next day… *shakes head* It’s like saying, “Hey, Muse, I’m having a great time here with you, but I’m gonna go home now and paint my dog or something… Let’s just meet up again the same time tomorrow and see how it goes, ‘kay?”

      Like

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