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.