Do What You Can


I thought that this year we’d celebrate President’s Day with a bit of advice from one of our Presidents, Teddy Roosevelt.  “Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.”

When I give advice to my fellow writers, I hope that they realize that somehow they are going to have to make it their own.  The reality is that what works for me will probably not work for you unless you make some adjustments.  In fact, what works for me today, probably won’t work for me a year from now.

Don’t let that discourage you!   The reason is simple – we are constantly changing and growing as writers.  In addition to our writing changing, our lives in general are changing.  This means that the demands on us and the energy that we have is going to vary from week to week and year to year.

Up until today, these are the constants in my writing life –

  • I have a tendency to flub writing exercises at conferences because…
  • I do not write well in public.  I am very easily distracted.
  • When I know where I am going with a writing project, I can write 500 words in 15 or so minutes.  I can’t do that often in any given day but I can rough out a chapter (1700 words) in a day.

I prefer to write in the afternoon. But at various points in my life I have written in the morning and the evening.  I have rewritten a manuscript leaning against the wall in the emergency room while my father was asleep.

The key to any writing problem is to examine the problem as it exists now.  Today.  Where you are.  Don’t judge yourself.  Don’t bemoan what isn’t.  Look at what is and contemplate how you can work from that point to where you need or want to be.

I hope this is an encouraging thought to some of you.  You do not need to be where I am to write.  You don’t need to have a home office.  Writing does not need to be your only job.  That’s where I am right now.

Tomorrow?  Tomorrow I’ll be figuring out a new way to work because something, somehow will have changed.


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