The Successful Writer’s Secret to Writing Every Day: A Condensed Manifesto

Or, your dog doesn’t know what you are doing, your cat thinks you are a complete and utter dumbass either way, and no one else really cares, so what do you have to lose?

The trick to writing and the secret to forming a daily writing habit is not to care what anyone thinks of your writing, not even your dog. Your dog doesn’t even know what you are doing.

There my master is,
moving his fingers over black things with symbols on them,
except I don’t know what symbols are,
and then the symbols
, which I don’t actually comprehend
then appear on a screen,
which, good question,
how do I even know what a screen is?
Hey, look—a squirrel!

If you have a cat, it’s a whole new level of I don’t give a shit. Your cat actually thinks you’re a total dumbass. Not just a dumbass, a total dumbass.

You realize you could be sleeping, right?
That’s what your cat is thinking.
And you’re awake.
What a total dumbass.

And unless you’re some sort of big shot writer with a fanbase, no one else cares.

Olin Miller once said, “You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.”

The following minds have been credited with this quote over time: Mark Twain, David Foster Wallace, and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Research tends to point to Olin Miller as the originator. Regardless, whether Twain, Roosevelt, or DFW said it, the point is, it’s something a smart person said, and you should listen to it.

Sure, a few people like your writing and some may even tell you so occasionally or share your posts on Facebook and Twitter, and these are extremely intelligent people who, if the world was just, would be blessed with infinite riches, materially and spiritually; but by and large, all of the time you spend overthinking what to write about and whether it’s any good, and worrying about what someone else may or may not think, no one really cares.

They don’t. It’s as simple as that.

To quote the Beat poet Allen Ginsberg, “To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard.”

Which is the precise reason you should just write. That’s the successful writer’s secret to writing everyday. They don’t think so much as they do. It’s a one ingredient recipe.

Take it from me, someone who squandered the last 10-15 years of his writing life worrying about what people thought of his writing. Do you know what it accomplished? Nothing. I had some promise when I was 21 (I think, or at least that’s what I tell myself) and it scared me. I can’t get back that lost time, but I can move forward. You should move forward too.

You can read a self-help book about how to write a novel or a memoir or how to structure your plot. These are all fine and good. I read them all the time. Want a recommendation? Send me an email. But use these books meditatively, as inspiration, not instruction. They are meditations on writing and what it means to be a writer. They won’t actually force you to write. That’s up to you.

Writers need readers. Readers need writers. If you want to be a writer you have to write, not just read, or worse, read about writing. Like I said, it’s all fine and good. Just don’t make it an excuse for why you, the aspiring writer, aren’t simply a writer with the aspiring part scratched through.

If you write, you are a writer. So, write.

There is no such thing as a successful writer. Success is in the eye of the beholder, only.

Now, go forth to your desk or situate your behind in your chair (or standing desk if you have a crummy back like me) and get to the business of writing. That’s the secret.

If anyone tells you otherwise, they’re lying.

Or worse, they are trying to sell you something. It’s called marketing.

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