writingThe title of this post is a Latin phrase that translates to “no day without a line.”  It’s generally attributed to Roman writer/philosopher/historian Gaius Plinius Secundus, also known as “Pliny the Elder,” who himself credited the Greek artist Apelles for coining the expression.  It’s meaning is pretty simple: create something, anything—no matter how minuscule, everyday.  For a writer, it should be a commandment to live by—write at the very least one original sentence everyday.  I have a note card with the saying taped just over my computer.

To be completely honest, I’d had this quote around for years, but never truly lived by it until very recently.  There was always the advice given to me, and seemingly every young writer starting out, to “write everyday.” But the reason I think that I didn’t take it to heart, the same reason I’m assuming everyone else ignored that great pearl of wisdom, is because it turns the act of writing into work.  When you first realize that you love to write, it comes in spits and spurts, these sudden and quick fevered moments of creativity that sit you down in front of the computer, typewriter, or paper and pen.  It’s a fun addictive rush, but you can’t dictate when it happens. And if you try to write without it,  the process is daunting and not that much fun.  Unfortunately, it’s the only way to ever finish anything that you start writing.

Now, no matter what I do, I always make sure that I write something everyday. It can be anything from a blog post (yeah, yeah, I know I only posted twice last week… Lay off!) to an addition on a current draft of short story, even facebook status or something on twitter.  As long as it’s creative and original, I’ve done my daily writing duty.  Of course, one or two snarky sentences posted online isn’t exactly what Pliny (or Apelles) had in mind, but it gets the job done—and trust me when you’re curled up, hungover, on the couch watching the Empire Strikes Back for the umpteenth time on Spike, tweeting “Han Solo is an intergalactic pimp that the ladies love and he knows it,” is tough.  The point is that it’s like exercise; even a little bit is better than nothing. The more you do it, the easier it gets and the better you get.  You not only find that you can write something pretty decent without those surges of creativity, but that a lot of those times you make yourself sit down to write, you get inspired and they come along anyway.   Living the rule of “no day without a line” has opened something up inside of me and made me a better writer.   I’m glad I finally started following  it.

[Pic via Flickr.com]