Today you will write a thousand words. Your brain is endless. It is the ocean. There is always something new to say, another idea. You will find the words, because they are there. Keep looking.
Remember a few days ago when Michael Weber said you have to write when you don't feel like it, even if you have, say, oh I don't know, maybe a hangover? That is me today. But I shall persist. Because there is just one week left, and the sentences have astonishingly piled up before me, and I want more of them. I feel greedy about it. And I have more to say, and this work must get done.
Today's guest contributor is Will Leitch, founding editor of Deadspin, contributing editor at New York, and host of "The Will Leitch Show," among many other things. Will and I both started out our careers together, in the late 90s, in New York, and I can tell you, he's one of the most prolific people I've ever met in my life. He files at least five pieces a week, usually on sports and film. Also he writes op-eds, hosts podcasts, has published four books. I could go on and on. And he has done this for nearly two decades. He is the real deal.
"Every writer has their favorite quote about writing, and, fittingly, my favorite one is more about the process of writing rather than any sort of deep artistic fulfillment. The quote comes from Roger Ebert: ‘The muse visits during the act of creation, not before.’
As usual, this is Ebert – a blue-collar newspaper guy at his core -- saying something practical and vital in a lovelier way than most of us would say it: He’s saying shut up and work. One of the most difficult things about writing is overcoming all the excuses we give ourselves not to write, we’re not feeling inspired, we haven’t figured out what we want to say, we’re pretty sure the computer is blinking meanly at us over there. What Ebert is saying is that writing, the physical act of typing letter keys with your fingers, is the vessel for inspiration: You don’t know what you have to say until you say it.
I grew up as a writer in the online world where your job, a job not all that different than Ebert’s newspaper work, is to fill a box, hit save and then go fill another one. To many, this has made words feel more disposable, but I found it freeing: I couldn’t swim around in my own head because there was no time. The box had to be filled. Now that my writing is less deadline driven, I try to keep the same approach: Just make shit. I have all the time in the world to go fix it later: The hardest part is getting it down the first time. I’m able to be productive because I don’t think of writing as something that happens in my head. It’s a physical act. It’s building a shelf. It’s work. It’s making something that didn’t exist before. Get out of your head. Fill the box. Go make shit."
You heard the man. Go make shit.