Being a writer is a full-time job that — let's face it — too many people still don't recognize. If you've been following Merritt Tierce, Ester Bloom (at The Billfold), and Lincoln Michel's three-way call about the economic realities of surviving by pen alone, you've asked yourself big questions: Why do I write? What good is it doing me? Should I abandon my passion project and shoot for a bankable manuscript?
Probably these questions have wormed into all your life's nooks and crannies. Because here's the thing about writing: there aren't breaks. Forget sick days or vacations. I mean there are those times — but they just exist so you can stress about not writing.
True: occasionally I envy those natural time divisions non-writers live with. Take my siblings. I ask normal questions: What are you doing this weekend? Brunches and concerts, baseball games and beyond, they tell me. But I dread when the tables turn and they ask me about my weekend plans. My inner adolescent rears her head, embarrassed that I'm yet again reporting .... well, work. Writing.
Whether you're looking to shake up your drafting routine or you're itching to break those chains from your desk, here are five wordsmithy ways to spend a Saturday.
1. Write a story (or a poem) (or an essay) in one go.
No joke. If you're not in the middle of a long project, set yourself a strict deadline and see what brilliance ensues when you challenge yourself to go beyond your limits (unless you're someone whose usual is writing a story or a poem or an essay in a day — in which case, I #bowdown).
2. Read something by a writer you've been meaning to read forever.
Not every bucket list title is an undertaking of the Ulysses magnitude. You can read Gogol's "The Overcoat," for instance, in an hour — and I guarantee you won't regret a single minute.
3. Or reread a fave/modern/unsung masterpiece, with your writer brain on.
There's casual reading, joyful reading (I'm currently doing this — four years late — with Megan Abbott's addictive Dare Me) and then there's writer reading (okay, also currently doing this — four years late — with Dare Me). Writer reading is when you turn into one giant nerve ending: every single word, sentence, paragraph, chapter seems to be feeding the part of your brain that craves craft instruction. When your brain is up for some writer reading, nourish it with the good stuff — and don't let anyone tell you that reading isn't writing.
4. Write through the awkward.
Writers are often of varying camps about a lot of things — and how to proceed when a block or, worse, what I like to call 'the awkward,' hits is no exception. 'The awkward' is when you find yourself typing . . . and . . . each . . . word . . . seems . . . so . . . im . . . poss . . . ibly . . . laborious that you don't know how you'll go on. My advice: take a walk and then re-approach that awkward place. Odds are, you'll feel way smoother... or, in other words, better equipped to make things happen on the metaphorical page.
5. Fake it until you become it.
No, no one wants to be a wannabe writer, but sometimes you have to do like Dr. Amy Cuddy says and "fake it till you become it." Wear the clothes or drink the drank that makes you feel like a writer — and own your weekend, even if it does find you chained to the keyboard.
Images: Nick Turner/Unsplash; Giphy (5)