Write Early and Often

On the first day of an undergraduate writing class, Annie Dillard said that in order to write well we should toss out our houseplants, get rid of all pets, and forget any plans for a future spouse or children. I ignored the details of her advice but the gist of Annie’s message was the best I’ve ever received about writing. She was offering an urgent, artistic command to write at all costs, on all days, in every setting, and at every stage of life. The best teacher of writing is the act itself. The only way to become a better writer is by persisting at it, even when faced with rejection, lack of an audience, or boredom with our own ideas.

First drafts can be awful junk and lead a writer to despair. But there is almost always the whiff of a good idea buried underneath. It takes time to ferret it out through the complex, multi-layered process of rewriting. And when that happens, the reward is strangely beyond measure.

So, my advice is simple: write always and often, even in the face of inevitable discouragement, but in a household alive with plants, pets and people you love.