If you want to be a writer, ya gotta write. All the best writing teachers (and wonderful writers like Natalie Goldberg and Anne Lamott) say this. It's kind of obvious, no? If you write every day, you get in the habit of writing and your writing will begin to blossom. If you read yesterday's post, you'll know I didn't write much at all until my aneurysm-induced ephiphany in Feb 2007. Even now, I occasionally miss a day (and I don't beat myself up over it), but I'm writing more than I'm NOT writing. And that's progress. It may only be a paragraph a day, five or six days a week. But I'm writing. (And starting this blog actually helps me stay in the habit -- thanks, Marie Devers of Booknapped, for the tip.)
But what about published authors? Do they write every day?
When I attended a recent SCBWI conference, the weekend concluded with a brunch and an Author Panel, manned by several well-known Children's writers and a few, shall we say, less well-known. Some of the latter had published one MG or YA novel through a small press. Some had a few picture books under their belts. My hat's off to all of them (except that one woman who had no business being there because she was no more published than I am, cough cough).
By far the most successful of the bunch was Dan Gutman. If you're reading this blog, you'll probably recognize Dan Gutman as the popular author of My Weird School, a chapter book series, and the Baseball Card Adventures, a MG series, among many other books. My Weird School has sold over 2.2 million copies. As he told us the night before, it took him 15 years to become successful, but I'd say you can't argue with that kind of success.
Now back to our Sunday morning author panel. Eight or nine authors, of varying degrees of success, sat in a long line facing the rest of us (the attendees), who were still munching our bagels and fresh fruit. They took questions from the audience and passed the mic down the line. Dan Gutman sat at the far right end.
The question arose, "Do you write every day?" The responses were interesting to say the least. (I'm actually paraphrasing here because -- gulp -- I didn't take notes as I did the rest of the weekend. I'm blaming the bagel.)
"No, I write when I feel like it."
"No, I write for a month or two, then I take a few months off."
"No, I find it very hard to write every day."
Finally, finally, the mic reached Dan Gutman, who said promptly, "I write every day from 8 to 11."
Aha! The most successful writer on the panel (more successful than a recognizable YA author who is remaining nameless here because I don't want her to hunt me down) and he was the ONLY ONE who writes every day.
I'd say the verdict is in.