In only a couple more days (two, to be exact) and I will have done 300 consecutive days of posts, often with multiple posts for each day — or so WordPress tells me. I don’t think of meeting that metric of a post a day most of the time, as I just write and it happens to be every day. Some posts are of higher quality than others, granted, but that’s part of the freedom that comes with not having a mission behind my writing. I write because I write; which is quite Zen now that I’ve committed to words.
Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes.Alan Watts (6 January 1915 – 16 November 1973)
Being a writer is just to commit to the act of writing. In other words, I don’t worry overmuch about publishing a story or a poem when I write. Or garnering “likes” here, there, or anywhere. I just write.
My approach is somewhat akin to the Ryōkan quote, now that I think about it:
In the scenery of spring, nothing is better, nothing worse; The flowering branches are of themselves, some short, some long.Ryōkan Taigu (良寛大愚) (1758–1831)
When I write, I esteem to create something not-horrible but accept that I might not meet that target some days. Or even most days. But my goal, for several years now, has been to write to just write. I don’t recall if it was Bradbury or King that said it (I suspect it was Bradbury in his Zen in the Art of Writing, which has almost no Zen in it), but whomever said it emphasized that the act of writing is of the utmost importance, even more than writing something of quality. This is because the act of writing alone will improve the quality of your output. Incrementally, perhaps (or, in my case, especially), but the writing will improve on it’s own to one degree or another as you commit words to whatever media you elect to commit those words to.
Of course, writing tons of garbage — as I am probably doing — will not get you closer to being published. Lucky for me, that hasn’t been my goal for a very long time. When I write, I write to write. Publication is not on the forefront of my thinking (outside of publishing here).
I’m a bit more critical of my fiction than I am of my poetry and, gods know, I probably should be much more critical about all of what I write. But being critical tends to get in the way of the act of writing. It invites blocks into the equation and blocks have never been very helpful with actually getting writing done. So I’ve subscribed (without realizing it until today) to the Ryōkan philosophy while I write. Each piece I write is a flowering branch unto itself. The important part is making it grow, less important is the ideals of quality we apply. And what is quality anyway? Let’s do some motorcycle maintenance before we discuss what quality is, eh?