on keeping a writing contract —

saigon garçon
5 min readAug 21, 2022


scrap it, leave it, be a body be a verb.

photo by author.

Whenever I see an article about a writing contract, I say, scrap a contract. A contract means all business and writing cannot be a business. It is an art. It is a means to bridging yourself to the world. Every single writer’s guide I see on this goddamn app is a sham, a wasteful collection of 0s and 1s regurgitated for the sole purpose to make a pretty penny. When in actuality, you need to find the ways in which you ground yourself in your reality and bridge it to others’ realities.

Listen to Sheila Heti:

“I don’t work every day. I don’t make myself follow through on things. You have to use who you are, and I have very bad follow-through and discipline. If you let yourself be a quitter, the few things that stay are really the things you don’t want to quit and the things you’re genuinely interested in. So, you can use your bad traits and turn them into good traits. As a result of being a quitter, I’ve worked on the things that are the most meaningful to me.”

I look laziness in the eye, but it looks back at me in the endless scroll of a Tiktok and repeated viewings of Instagram stories that feed the fomo of being alive in the 21st century.

The people of the 22nd century, what is to make of them? How will they be able to look at a sky without bringing up a phone to divide the viewer and object?


Boys. Instagram. Boys on Instagram. Youtube’s autoplay. Algorithms, the way they read me, suck me into diluted visions of what I love. Love.

He likes Dionne Warwick, a name I haven’t heard since John Waters’ Mr. Know It All, when he did acid again at 80 and listened to Dionne Warwick’s “A House is not a Home.” He says:

I was hallucinating: I was seeing little mice running around but they didn’t scare me, they were friendly, and the pictures were spinning and the flowers were growing… I did play the same music that I used to play, Dionne Warwick, when she sings, ‘A house is not a home/A chair is still a chair…’ but I was the chair! (Dazed Digital, Mr. Know It All)9

We let a morning go quiet with songs that go full gospel. He’ll stretch his voice out to let the morning light dance a bit on the walls, the coffee table, my still naked skin and the milky haze of my hungover vision, glasses off, skin flakey and dry. I did no writing. A single page, taped to the wall because it’s a way of seeing progress. And what a sad sight for progress. I can’t fool myself into thinking I’ve done anything when I’ve double spaced my lines, forgot a book at home, nothing to read with too much waiting on commutes and arriving too early to places.


Boys. Love. Falling in love with boys.

Banter. How a line of dialogue follows up to a sad sad story, all the blues, all the way he sounds out his consonants, pressing pause, letting his thoughts bubble with the past, pouring them into the present tense.

I don’t pay attention to how the tenses change in these stories. I don’t care. These pages flip themselves and I’m there to hear it. Wasn’t it good ol Joan who said it best?:

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live…We look for the sermon in the suicide, for the social or moral lesson in the murder of five. We interpret what we see, select the most workable of the multiple choices. We live entirely, especially if we are writers, by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images, by the “ideas” with which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria which is our actual experience.”

It’s The White Album, a collection to keep forever. In its patriotic red and blue, and faded white, I see the best of my American self and the last of the places I go to be a bit better. How are you bettering? Your speech? Your stories? How are you suspending suspense? Bending it? Folding it? Moving the ellipses and dashes from your mouth to your audience’s eyes. Bloat the brain, sharpen the tongue. Rewrite and rewrite your stories to different brunches and late night drinks, table to table, day and night. Different friends, other voices. Keep it PG, full raunchy rated R.

When you meet up with a friend, you’re usually waiting. So, bring a paperback with you. Skip the hardback. A shredded sleeve because it goes in and out of your tote is a turn off. Dog-eared and bent spines of a paperback show your nurture, your care, your love. And that you’re not perfect at it. And this is attractive.

Reading is a must. Read all the time. When you have many voices entering your system by way of sight. Something happens to your tongue, when it rests, licking through words that are not your own, especially when you speech act through them.

In order to write, you have to speak, constantly speak, to the air or to an actual face, you have to know your own rhythm, how words fall out of your mouth and how you pick them up to string them into a sentence.

Read. Speak. Write. No contract. Just verbs. Think body as a verb, move, progress, and a kind of sprinting occurs in the way you chew things up in your perceptions and taste them, sound them all out in a splendor of sayings. Then, you can truly call yourself a writer.

PROMPT (from the Isolation Journals): Make a creative contract with yourself:

* List your blocks — like consistency, crushing expectations, self-discipline, or self-doubt. Name them, interrogate them, and make a plan to tend to them.

* List the things that will keep you coming back: A low bar to entry? An accountability buddy? A set routine?

* Rather than setting a goal, set a mood intention for how you want to feel while in the creative process.

*Consider adding a pep talk for when you find yourself at a creative low point.