The Greatest Mistake a Writer Can Make . . .

. . . is not writing consistently. Once you lose the habit of writing on a daily basis, it is extremely hard to get back into it. I stopped writing while I was assembling my midpoint dossier and doing research for the new article. As a result, I now have to struggle with every sentence. The good habit of writing for two hours first thing in the morning is gone. I feel like an addict who has jumped off the wagon and now doesn’t even remember what the motivation was behind doing it.

A writer who isn’t writing every day – and I mean every day – is doing herself a huge disservice.

24 thoughts on “The Greatest Mistake a Writer Can Make . . .”

  1. My teacher in grade compared not writing every day and expecting a great writer to emerge from it to expecting that you didn’t need to practice a sport and would still end up hitting home runs for the Yankees.
    Jaime and I have both fallen off our usually vigorous “write every day, 700+ words, no exceptions” rule, with school and other things in the way, but this post is a timely reminder to get it started up again.

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  2. absolutely and completely true, however quite hard to pull off if you have any other demands outside work. I’m really worried about going back to teaching after sabbatical. Combined with commute, and work to maintain life (oh yes and kids) I don’t think I will be able to write T Th when I’m back on campus, unless I revert to getting up at 4AM to do it (and I’m getting old for that)

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    1. No, getting up at 4 am doesn’t sound like a great idea. You don’t want to compromise your health!

      I can’t write on the days when I teach either. The good news is that I only teach 2 days per week this semester.

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      1. Everybody make like von Aschenbach. Methodically write out your paternistic Apollnian genius over long ascetic years devoted to your craft until you break down and die of cholera and pederasty in Venice.

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      2. that is how I wrote for years. I’m an early bird. Of course that meant I went to sleep basically when the infant/toddler did which made for a tough marriage. I might be able to pull of 5AM, but the good news is I also have T/th schedule this semester YAY for me! So at least three days a week to write. I’m curious. Do you write on weekends? I’ve blogged about this before but now that we have kids we’ve kind of made weekends “family time” which means maybe prepping or grading, but not writing.

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  3. I don’t write so much anymore, because I no longer have anything to say. I only ever wrote to solve puzzles in my head. I had quite a few of these — really big puzzles. The intensity of the feeling that I needed to ‘give birth’ to an answer was so great that I really found attending conferences and the like absolutely annoying. They took time and energy away from my project — which was to crack a major puzzle and several minor ones.

    I’m pleased to say I finally broke through. I now understand the answers to my questions. For example, one question was about patriarchal morality. Why is it always so negative and hostile?

    My understanding now is that patriarchal morality enhances life for males by giving them control over women. So, for me, as a woman, patriarchal morality is inevitably unhelpful, at the least, and wrongheaded.

    There were other puzzles, too — but I’ve solved them.

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    1. This is a puzzle that still puzzles me, to be honest. In the patriarchal morality, a man needs to pay for sex. Be it in marriage or outside of it, he most often gets an unwilling, bored partner who is only in it for something not related to sexual desire. How can that be fun?

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    2. My understanding now is that patriarchal morality enhances life for males by giving them control over women. So, for me, as a woman, patriarchal morality is inevitably unhelpful, at the least, and wrongheaded.
      That’s only part of the answer.

      It enhances life for males that are willing to hollow themselves out or males that have been hollowed out. This hollowing out is basically the void of anything that could, if unchecked, run the risk of a man taking true control of himself rather than play his part as a good little gear in the machine. Its inherently damaging to men.

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      1. “This hollowing out is basically the void of anything that could, if unchecked, run the risk of a man taking true control of himself rather than play his part as a good little gear in the machine.”

        – Very insightful.

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  4. bloggerclarissa :
    This is a puzzle that still puzzles me, to be honest. In the patriarchal morality, a man needs to pay for sex. Be it in marriage or outside of it, he most often gets an unwilling, bored partner who is only in it for something not related to sexual desire. How can that be fun?

    It’s not fun, but he isn’t look for fun. He’s looking for power. Sexuality frightens him.

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    1. The fear of feminization is an artificial obstacle (as I’m sure you know). Put in place by those who wish to control said man whether that be other men or women.

      And its not always a matter of feminization either (in fact in my experiences it rarely ever is). (In fact I’ll say that while fear of being feminized does exist among men I think some people carry it way too far and think that’s “the real issue with men” or something like that. As if they are trying to relate everything bad that happens to men back to it being all about fear or hatred of women.)

      You see male sexuality is often thought of as something that is raw and beast like. And the Raw Beast is feared by all and can lead to one being shunned (look at how people try to demonize even little boys who are raped by women with claims that “he probably raped her”). In this sense loss of control has absolutely nothing to do with being regarded as female. It has to do with being regarded as a savage animal that is less than human.

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  5. bloggerclarissa :
    “This hollowing out is basically the void of anything that could, if unchecked, run the risk of a man taking true control of himself rather than play his part as a good little gear in the machine.”
    – Very insightful.

    Yes, that is very insightful and to me it speaks to Bataille’s critique of Nietzsche. Bataille said Nietzsche was fixated on (moral) transcendence BECAUSE he wanted to fall from grace — he had a typically masculine complex — an “Icarian complex”.

    Bataille said, if you want to fall from grace, why not just fall, as it were, downwards into the sun. Why “transcend” first, in order to do what you wanted to do anyway?

    Bataille, in saying this corrected a right wing tendency by making it into a left wing tendency: let us transgress; let us fall from grace.

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    1. Good point.

      Those in power create “grace” so that we have something to reach for. As long as we have something to reach for we have something that we must avoid “falling into”.

      Mind you that is not to say that there are no actual “graces” worth aspiring to.

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  6. bloggerclarissa :
    “This hollowing out is basically the void of anything that could, if unchecked, run the risk of a man taking true control of himself rather than play his part as a good little gear in the machine.”
    – Very insightful.

    Why thank you. Its just that some people want to act as if subjugating women is the only damage that’s worth talking about (or at least the only one worth talking about until someone calls them on it and then they back step with some “Patriarchy Hurts Men Too” lip service). We are all gears in the machine and it bothers me quite a bit that some people think that being male is some damn cake walk just because a very, Very, VERY, small portion of us are at the top controlling the machine.

    Create the myth that men are beasts so that we fill the role that we are needed to fill (dangerous jobs, military, etc….). Create the myth that women are glass so that they can fill the role that they are needed to fill (keeping up the home, bearing and raising children).

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  7. Danny :
    Good point.
    Those in power create “grace” so that we have something to reach for. As long as we have something to reach for we have something that we must avoid “falling into”.
    Mind you that is not to say that there are no actual “graces” worth aspiring to.

    Thing is, there is a great degree of mastery required at Bataille’s end as well, only it is a different kind of psychological mastery, in some respects, from that of Nietzsche — at least from that which Nietzsche was conscious of having.

    Can you maintain your pride in yourself and still “fall from grace”? Freud wasn’t wrong about the power of the superego and to try to do both of these at once stretches you in opposite directions. I’ve tried this and for quite a long time. It creates interesting and distant perspectives. It’s very strange.

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  8. Danny :

    You see male sexuality is often thought of as something that is raw and beast like. And the Raw Beast is feared by all and can lead to one being shunned (look at how people try to demonize even little boys who are raped by women with claims that “he probably raped her”). In this sense loss of control has absolutely nothing to do with being regarded as female. It has to do with being regarded as a savage animal that is less than human.

    Well that’s the way men have represented it themselves, for eons. I must say it is not the same for all cultures. It’s clearly a myth, designed to arouse fear. As so often happens, the makers of the myth forget it is a myth (for their forefathers invented it and not the later generations.) Then, it starts to become a problem for those who must live in different social circumstances that those who had come up with the myth. Nothing is fair about gender and we shouldn’t automatically expect it to be.

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    1. True and for those eons of representation most other people besides those men themselves had no problem with it as long as they benefitted from that representation. Even those who “must live outside those circumstances” have no problem falling back on this representation even as they claim to be against it.

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  9. Anyway, some of my old writing is still to appear:

    Dear contributors to the Marechera book,

    We are happy to finally let you know that the Marechera manuscript has been accepted by LIT Verlag, Berlin, and will be published this year in their African Literatures-African Languages series, hopefully in time for Marechera’s 50th birthday on June 4. The tentative title is Moving Spirit: The Legacy of Dambudzo Marechera in the 21st Century. The book will include extra pieces not presented at the Celebration and also a DVD with audio-visual contributions and archival material, some of it never published or broadcast before.

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  10. You go, Jennifer! This is going to be a good but also necessary book. I know that word is one reviewers use all the time but in this case it’s for real. Congratulations!

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