The Second Rule of Write Club

by | Mar 7, 2024 | write club

Last week I introduced you to the first rule of Write Club: Write every day. This week, I bring you rule 2:

Be nice to the artist.

That’s you. You’re an artist. You know why? Because artists have a daily practice, and so do you, right?

  1. Show up every day.
  2. Be nice to the artist.

Why is being nice so important?

Creative writers spend a lot of time alone. Their inner voice doubles as their boss.

Have you ever had an unappreciative boss who constantly rode your a**? How’d that impact your work ethic?

Starting a daily practice is thorny and rough terrain, even for an old pro, perhaps more for an old pro because we have all these dead vines to cut down, abandoned art that calls to us as we try to find something solid to grasp.

person staring into a partially frozen puddle with dead treetops in the background

It’s emotionally draining, especially if you ever had aspirations of doing this professionally.

Imagine walking through your childhood home after twenty years of neglect. There’s your once-favorite toy covered in cobwebs and dust, maybe ruined entirely from sitting too long.

The judgmental voice demands–just. start. writing.–but you really can’t judge, shame, and brute yourself into writing well—well being the important word here. You can force yourself to churn out 5K a day right to spec, but that’s not exactly what we’re aiming for here

To get the magic stuff you know you’re capable of, but can’t quite create lately, you gotta woo the muse. You gotta remember what you LOVE about this and block out all the rest. Like the stuff about algorithms. That stuff will kill the artist you.

“You’re a slut and a whore for the algorithm. . . . You start out making art, and hoping that the door will open. You’re looking for that viral moment so it opens up the door and you can do the thing full time. But you start to compromise just to get the door to open: guessing what it wants, debasing yourself, alienating yourself. . . . The algorithm makes you behave in a certain way, create in a certain way, in exchange for being seen. And if something can change what you do, it can change who you are.”

from Humans of New York

It’s a delicate balance—that of being an artist and also requiring an income. Part of me just wants to keep avoiding the daily writing practice. Get a paper-pusher job and secretly jot a poem once in a while, but then I think about Emily Dickinson.

You probably had to read her poetry in high school. She wrote this.

Emily Dickinson poem "Hope is the thing with feathers"

Emily Dickinson never published anything during her life. We have her poetry because her sister found 1800 poems wrapped in bundles in Emily’s bedroom after she died and vowed to get them published.

Then a bunch of people changed stuff and rearranged her poems and made a ton of money selling them. And then those people fought over the money. You know how that goes.

Emily Dickinson with notebook paper that says, "I'm nobody! Who are you?"

Back to Emily Dickinson.

She knew those poems were good. If she didn’t, they would have been tossed, burned, published under some man’s name. But she never did anything with them, and because she didn’t, other people did.

"Hope is the thing with feathers" in Emily Dickinson's handwriting

And because of that, whenever I read Emily Dickinson, I think of her in the great library in the sky, thoroughly annoyed at what well-meaning people did to her vision.

I’m not going out like that.

I often hesitate to push the proverbial publish button because in my heart I am Lloyd Dobler.

But I keep getting nudges, whispers, knowings. They tell me I really owe it to the artist in me to ship her work. Ship, share, publish: whatever you call it. Do it before someone else does.

And in my case, someone else has! More on that next week.

Never putting your work out there is one way to protect yourself from criticism and haters, but saying eff the haters and shipping it anyway is a bigger kind of protection.

So rule number 2 of Write Club is to ask the productivity-focused section of your brain to leave the building. No judging. Writing never gets easy and the troopers who stick it out deserve accolades.

And that’s it. There are only 2 rules to Write Club:

Are you in? Everyone is welcome.

Write Club is not a subscription service you have to pay for. It’s more like OPP.

You down with W.C.?

Yeah, you know me.

Join Write Club by signing up for my mailing list. I’m about to get all creative up in here, and the chaos just might inspire you to get a little creative, too.



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