The habit of daily writing is important, but not for reasons one might think. Writing is part inspiration and part craftsmanship. Daily writing helps with the latter more than then former and comes a time when new inspiration is needed. It’s not a commodity to be picked up at the local gas station like an Arizona Iced Tea, cigarettes, or unleaded gasoline.
To date I’ve filed 82 stories for newspapers since my first on Jan. 31, 2014. That’s 44 for West Branch Communication and another 38 for the Iowa City Press Citizen. 70,842 words total, with all but three articles printed—my writing in public.
It’s not a lot, but it’s something, and I am happy to be a small part of newspaper writing—a long tradition, but something that will remain regardless of its many changes and new economic model. If anything, freelancers will become more important to corporate media as time goes on, especially if we are willing to work for cheap to get our stories published.
I write some in private, but not much. Journal entries are sporadic these days, and there are some regular reports and emails in the mix. I used to write more in private, but conversations with people during my time in public have eclipsed much of it.
The result of such talk is a sanding away of controversy and new ideas. Polite conversations are a way of getting along in society—something we need and want—but if we engage sincerely with others, we feel good, but little inspiration is usually forthcoming.
But by putting pen to paper, fingertips to keyboard, we write. Working to craft short articles, experimenting with ideas and content, we write. I am writing.
If inspiration is lacking today, it may be found tomorrow in the garden, the garage, the kitchen, or in my book-lined workspace. There is hope for that—a writer’s hope.
We go on writing. I sharpen my skills, seeking inspiration I’m confident will be found. Daily writing sustains hope for inspiration. If we are lucky, it prepares us to write great stories once it emerges.
It would be easier if inspiration could be bought at the gas station. Easier, not necessarily better, and that’s the issue.
Daily writing will have to sustain us for now.