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WRITE SOMETHING EVERYDAY
THE WRITER'S WAY

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the writers way jen frankelWRITE SOMETHING EVERYDAY
THE WRITER'S WAY

by Jen Frankel

A person can make it through life without writing, I suppose. But a person like me can't. Can't get through without creating something, in any case, and maybe it's just that, for me, writing is the easiest way to bring something into existence.

I should write something every day. I believe that, although I have no good reason to believe the world will collapse if I don't. I don't even really believe that there is some kind of unwritten rule which says that I personally have to sit down and record some brain effluent or I will finish my existence as a failure.

I believe I should write something every day more as an abstract concept, a desire for reason in a world which will not even notice if I am completely unproductive. I am a small part of a huge planet. My life can be as small and as inconsequential as I let it be.

I used to believe I had no control at all over is my success, or my enjoyment of success, although I had the ability to fail firmly under my thumb. To achieve that, all I had to do was consistently take the easy way out and do nothing when I feel action or dedication is called for. All I had to do to be of no consequence was to ignore the thoughts which come unbidden, to forget my own artificial belief that I should write something every day.

After all, what are the penalties for failure? To achieve even the minimum required to stay alive is no mean feat, after all. To continue to amass enough wealth to continue to eat, to stay marginally active, to answer phone calls � these are not petty things. Survival is difficult enough without wanting to take on more.

It's especially difficult when I don't know either what that �more' will demand of me, or if that �more' will even be desirable. How do I know that all my extra efforts won't be wasted? Think of doing extra credit projects in school, letting research carry away hours of study time, and in the end discovering that someone who has done the minimum work with the minimum effort achieves the same reward. How do I know if writing something every day will be worth it?

Can I not write?

The answer is I don't, and that's disconcerting. I would like to have an easy response to a question that touches so deeply my sense of identity. But then, I can't say with any certainty that I would suffer if I decided never to write again; I just assume I would always think about it and feel discomfort at the loss.

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The final proof of writing, proof of authorship, rests firmly not on what is done on a day to day basis, but in the end. A couple married for 60 years cannot honestly say they knew they would reach such a milestone, as politicians cannot account in advance for how history will view their success or failure.

But the end is not the central issue in writing, not achievement or output or reception. The truth of writing is the process, and that is done every day, whether you're writing or not. The only way to be a writer is to do it, and to watch your skills and your output grow incrementally. It's not about focussing on the eventual outcome.

We tend to live more in the future than in the present in our society. We concentrate on retirement, on fame and fortune... on the weekend. That indicates to me that we aren't taking enough pleasure in what we're actually doing. We aren't loving the moment; we're loathing it and waiting for something to happen to magically make everything better, like a mama's kiss on a boo-boo.

Jen Frankel is finding her religion

I'm not big on delayed gratification. I used to see it as a problem, but now I'm realizing that if I live my success every day, I get to succeed in the present. I know I'll succeed in the future; it's a foregone conclusion that I must believe in adamantly, or it's difficult to sit down every day and write.

But I have to live now, and enjoy now, which means loving the difficult process and discovering all its rewards. Every day.

That's my religion; that's my faith. The Church of the Foregone Conclusion. Live now, and the future will take care of itself.

I used to live in the present and the past, and felt only longing in the present. But, if life is to truly be lived, the only answer to how I should proceed is to do what I do when do it, and let the future judge how I did.

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