I remember a fond conversation a professor once tried to have with me, my senior year in college. I had mentioned to her that I had written a novel and asked for her input. I can’t say I remember much about her or her thoughts on my novel. She seemed far more interested in me becoming a writer than I was. I can’t tell you either why she took an interest in me continuing to write. Maybe she was an honest to God, a good and caring teacher or maybe she was hoping if I ever came to anything she might benefit in some way. I told her I had a difficult time keeping up writing. I would have times of high activity and then weeks and months of no urge to write at all. She then settled down into a small and cramped chair in her small and cramped office and invited me to do the same. She then began to tell me a story about Hemingway. It was no secret to any writing professor I had that I was a fan of his works and his style.
“Do you know the secret to his success?” She asked.
“Drinking?” I said smugly.
“No,” She said. “Every morning he would rise early and sit down at his typewriter. Drunk, sober or hungover he would write five hundred words. Maybe that would be all he wrote all day long or maybe it would lead to something more. But he made sure every morning to write a simple five hundred words. Make this part of your day and see what happens.”
I thanked her and left. I wasn’t really sure what to think of it. Writing a page a day was not something a soon to be done with college guy was thinking. I was more concerned with drinking and seeing if I could get lucky a time or two more before I had to move into the real world. But for some reason, it stuck in my mind. I held the idea in the back of my head as I was gut checked by needing to find a job with applicable skills or experience that a Bachelors of Arts couldn’t offer.
Here I am only a handful of years later and I still struggle maintaining that output but the idea of needing to put pen to paper each day is something I hold on to. Life has been fortunate enough to grant me a healthy income and recently some spare time. I have started to write again but still sparingly. I try each day to jot down a few words and the notepad app on my phone is used just as often in the morning as it is as 3 AM. I ask you, could you write 500 words a day? Not just copying words from the dictionary or utter jibberish but actually put down thoughtful and concise sentences about your thoughts and your life. I hope one day I will be able to frequently and I hope we will all strive to understand our thoughts and words more fully so as to be able to articulate the pieces of our selves we still can’t understand.
There is not trick to writing. All you do is sit down in front of a typewritter and bleed.
– Ernest Hemingway