If you don’t spend time with blank pages, there isn’t a future in writing for you. There just isn’t any way around it.
So you want to call yourself a writer? You like to make big monologues about the movies that you love and tell people that you can write just as well if not better than those very movies that you mention. And you go up to girls in bars and try to woo them by saying you’re this big creative genius with more ability in your very fingertips than any other ten writers out there. But there’s a problem. You don’t get words on the blank page.
Michael Ian Black may not be a household name, but at least he’s been around for the last 20 years in the world of entertainment. He’s been in many comedies, been on a few more television shows, and even a couple of movies. Where’d he start off? Much like most creative people, he started off as a writer. And he still writes. At least 1,000 words a day. And he does this every day. Sure, a lot of the words might be utter crap. On the other side, those words might lead to 10,000 more that end up being the part of a really great screenplay or book. You just don’t know until you get with the writing.
Writing is very akin to other things that you can get good at by practicing. The potential great pianist must practice for hours a day and lots of years before he gets to play Carnegie Hall or with the London Philharmonic. A runner must keep their body in shape while they exercise madly on a consistent basis with an appropriate training regiment in order to be first person across the finish line, whenever and wherever that happens to be. You just can’t wake up and go do these things automatically. You’ve got to do it, and you’ve got to do it a lot.
I try to get 1,500 words a day down on the blank page. Truthfully, most of the time, it’s total shit. And I’m talking about ridiculous, awful shit. But I do it, and I’ve done it this way for going on four years now since Black clued me in on this method of his. Before, it used to be that 500 words a day seemed enough. It wasn’t. While 500 words seems like a good amount, it’s just not sufficient to get to where you want to be as a writer. And I don’t know a whole lot, but I do know this: I wouldn’t have my career resume looking like what it does today without banging out 1,500 words a day since 2008.
So right now, that’s what makes sense. You’re going to go through your life each day and figure out what makes the most sense for you. It doesn’t matter if you’re a writer like I am, or an Olympic runner, or a world-renowned musician. You practice what your passion is, and you don’t let anyone or anything get in your way in your goal of excelling in your field.
I’m a writer, and I’ll never stop. Here’s Writing World Wednesday from last week:
The Pre-Flight Checklist