Interviewer: “What’s the single most piece of advice you can give aspiring writers?”
Author: “Write, write, write!”
But what does that even mean? Whether it’s my book, Facebook, Twitter, texting, or emailing, I’m already constantly writing. Even if I wasn’t writing my book I’d still be writing…technically. Well, here’s what I tell my kids about the word ‘technically’: It’s the word we use to defend what we know to be wrong. When someone gets out on a technicality, everyone knows the person was guilty. Him/Her getting away on a technicality doesn’t change anyone’s mind about what really happened. Just ask OJ.
So, back to the topic at hand—what does “write, write, write” mean, and why don’t social media posts and emails count as writing? First off, social media, emails, etc. don’t count as writing for the same reason that non-genre reading doesn’t count for reading, and for the same reason that doing the dishes at home doesn’t contribute to your hours worked at your job. You can’t go to your boss and say, “I already clocked in three hours at home, vacuuming, washing the dishes, and folding the laundry”. Likewise, if you’re writing a fantasy novel, you can’t say “I wrote for 8 hours today” when 4 of those hours were spent on Facebook, Twitter, and email correspondence.
Second, there is a qualitative difference in the writing expressed on social media, emails, and even most blogs and news journals, to the writing expressed in novels (specifically, but not limited to fiction). No one scrolls through emails and social media, swooning over masterfully crafted prose, or marvels at a magical milieu. Social media, emails, etc. tend to carry more of a personal and casual tone, eschewing the elements of writing that make readers fall in love with what they’re reading. People tend to read blogs and scroll social media for information, casual entertainment, and to keep in touch with friends and family.
Beautiful photos demand everyone to see the world for how it is; writing demands each person to envision the world for their self.
Writing your book is a job, and you should treat it as such. Which leads to the meaning of “write, write, write”: write your genre. If you aren’t actively writing material for your book, then you need to be writing material for another project, or a short story, or a dialogue, or whatever. Consider this as practice, no different than going to the batting cages, or shooting free throws. Writing is a skill, and like all skills, it has its good and bad days, and it can fade over time. The more you write, the easier it will become to knock out entire sections of a book in a day.
One quick last note. No one can work every day. At least, not if they want to have a life outside of work, and that includes writing. Taking breaks to enjoy life is at least as important (I’d say even more important) as writing. Not every day is a NaNoWriMo day.