It All Counts

Often, if you write, you struggle with time. Something that helps me is to remember that it all counts. By that I mean, all of the writing you do, whether it’s taking notes, or free writing, or organizing your files, rewriting paragraphs or reading– all of it counts. True, you’ll have projects that have deadlines and goals. There will be times when you need to change the way you work to suit the deadline, to finish. Most of your writing life won’t be that though. It will be showing up at your desk, making choices, keeping committments that for a good deal of time are only to yourself. You’ll arrive at the point– a point you want to reach again and again if you continue to write– when it’s time to finish. In the meanwhile, your goal is to show up for yourself and you work. Always have something to do. Be generous in how you understand what that is.

I read an interview with Grace Paley in the Village Voice 25 years ago. One exchange stuck. The interviewer asked her what she’d done that day and she replied that she’d written ten pages and all of it was “crap.” I paraphrase, but the sentiment is what matters. If you’re going to be the kind of person who devotes time to producing something your proud of, you also have to be the kind of person who’s willing to devote your time to more than a few crappy pages.

It all counts.

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