I was given an invaluable piece of writing advice some time ago that was infinitely more helpful than any “how-to” article or writing course.
Back then, I was at a point where writing was becoming more of a pressure than a pleasure; something to work at rather than simply…enjoy. I believed I had to write every day without fail or my laptop would spontaneously combust. Ditto for poring over every piece of writing advice on the internet and reading exhaustively from every genre in every moment that I wasn’t writing.
Here’s the advice I was given:
Traveller, there is no path. The path is made by walking.
You don’t have to follow any rules if you don’t want to. You can write furiously for one week then not at all for a month, if that works for you. You can write every day religiously for twenty minutes or every fortnight for ten. You can go to classes and workshops and festivals or you can stay at home and…write. The people who issue writing advice don’t live your life. You live your life. You get to write the instruction manual.
Note: I am not against working hard and writing hard. There are clearly trade-offs and consequences. Writing regularly, reading widely, honing your craft, aiming high: I’m on board with all of that. As a result, I’ve got a pretty healthy portfolio of published work, including a novel I’m proud of.
But ultimately, I want to write with joy, and I want to love it more than feel the strain of it. I want writing to remain my playground.
I would urge you to be discerning in what writing advice you listen to. Question everything. Make your own path.
There is no right way, so write your way.