Why We Grind, Part One

We Grind to write every day.  When I was an undergraduate, my favorite professor’s syllabus included a plethora of quotes about writing regularly or even daily.  The one that stuck with me is the one that stuck with many of you, too; I see it in a lot of different places. “Write a little every day, without hope, without despair,” said Isak Denisen, and her advice was mostly sound.  But I’ve come to accept that both the hope and the despair are necessary conditions of the writing process, and if we wait for the days when we can acquit ourselves of either or both, we’ll never get much writing done at all.  If the Grind could modify what Denisen said to read, “Write something every day, despite hope, despite despair,” that’d be about right.

We Grind to be held accountable.  I will be the first to admit: I am lazy. My friend Jessica gave voice to a philosophy I never truly knew I had today on Twitter.  She said, “I believe whole-heartedly in procrastination when it doesn’t fuck anyone over.” And let’s face it– in a writer’s mind, there is no more victimless a crime than the crime of not writing.  But by its construction, the Grind removes that excuse, and all excuses for procrastinating.  When a group of writers is out there in cyberspace, toiling through difficult and sometimes hopeless drafts, and they’re faithfully sending them your way by midnight, how can you not reciprocate?  When they rely on your commitment to the process, is there any more of a dick move than not sending something, sending anything?

We Grind to fool our own minds. So maybe you already felt accountable to yourself, and you find yourself writing every day.  But you’re still not getting anything done.  Our minds are fickle things, but they are so easily swayed by new incentives. Entering the Grind, making the commitment to finish something every day and send it to a small group (which sometimes includes– gasp!– strangers) would scare the dickens out of most mortals, but for a few of us, it provides us with something we desperately needed: permission to fail.  Plenty of writers are writing every day but find themselves in ruts because they are unwilling to move on before the sentence is perfect, the stanza is polished, the dialog sparkles, and the image is immaculate.  But writing doesn’t work that way, people.  It’s an ugly process and it’s filled with missteps and mistakes that you have to be willing to make.  If your brain is telling you you’re no longer allowed to make mistakes, the Grind can be a godsend, because it not only gives you permission, the “finish something every day” dictum practically demands it.

We Grind to puncture the subconscious.  When you’re desperate to write something, anything, before midnight, you’ll unlock pieces of yourself you didn’t know were there.