We’ve all heard the advice: write every day. Heck, I’ve repeated that advice. But I’ll be honest. I don’t write every single day. And I’m past thinking you need to.
I know I’m not alone. I can affirm there are successful, accomplished writers who don’t write every day. If that’s the case why do we so often hear this advice?
And why do I still think it’s good advice?
Because writing every day for a sustained period of time (months, at minimum) will disabuse you of the following fallacies:
1. “I have to be in the mood to write.”
Um. No. You don’t.
You really, really don’t.
What you do need to do is sit yourself down and write with enough regularity that you thoroughly understand how writing cold can rapidly morph into writing hot.
Not in the mood? Writing a little something is a good way to get in the mood. Then, lucky you, you’re in the perfect position to take advantage of being in the mood to write because, guess what? You’re already writing. Not watching TV. Not surfing the Internet. Not reorganizing your closet.
In order to understand this concept well enough to act on it, you may need to experience the phenomenon of “writing to get in the mood to write” over and over and over again.
Committing to a daily writing regimen will teach you that lesson much more quickly.
2. “I’m not a good writer.”
My husband’s an artist (as those of you familiar with my cover illustration will know) and, in addition to painting for galleries, he teaches art classes. There are a couple of stories he likes to tell his beginning students.
If you utter the phrase, “I’m not good at drawing,” this is my husband’s response: “First create a hundred drawings, then we’ll talk about whether you’re any good at it.”
Drawing is a learned skill. Hundreds of years ago, before we started revering the aura of artists, they were considered tradesmen. Like bricklayers. They went through years of training and apprenticeships until, through the power of practice and experience, they became masters.
It’s no different for writing. You want to write a novel? Great. Get to work. And don’t knock yourself down by comparing yourself to the masters when you’re still in training. There’s nothing wrong with being an apprentice. We all have to start somewhere.
Relax. Practice. Allow yourself to make mistakes in your stories. It’s how you learn. Identify weaknesses and figure out how to do it better.
And kick your ego to the curb. It’ll only get in the way. Don’t write to get praise or to prove something. Focus on the story and learning how to make it work.
If you’re writing every day, you will be making steady progress toward the day when you can say, “Hey! I’m a pretty good writer!”
3. “I don’t have time to write.”
I hear ya. I really do. Right now I have several major editing projects which are, of necessity, completely taking over my work hours. That includes my writing hours. Between that and normal business and family demands, there are days when I truly don’t have 10 minutes to spare.
I’ve been working on The Lost Branch for a year and it’s still not done.
From last October until early January, I had the kind of overload that made me say, “I can’t wait until my surgery so I’ll have some time to rest.”
Because I’ve practiced daily writing (oh yes I have, and it is a glorious, glorious thing) I know the difference between truly not having any free time to write at all, and just needing to make writing a higher priority on a busy schedule.
For the next several months, I know there will be days when I will not have 10 minutes to spare. Legitimately. But I also know there will be days when I can take advantage of whatever free time I have. It may mostly be on the weekends, and will probably be 30 minutes here and a couple of hours there.
So here is where I need to make that commitment and get in the mental mindset that will help me make the most of the time I do have. If I schedule what I can and keep my manuscript handy for unexpected opportunities, those little moments will add up. Come summer, I’ll be further along than I am now.
Daily writing, even if it’s just 10 minutes a day, will teach you that you do have time to write a book. It may not seem like much, but if you write just one page a day, at the end of a year you’ll have a book.
How does that compare to what you’ll have if you do nothing?
4. “I have to write every day.”
Wait a minute.
Weren’t these supposed to be fallacies? Weren’t we writing every day to disprove this list of fallacies?
Writing every day will prove… I don’t have to write every day?
Once you’ve learned from experience that being disciplined enough to write every day combats our excuses to avoid writing, you will be able to legitimately identify when you need a break from writing.
You may be burned out and need to refuel.
You may be facing a life circumstance of some sort that legitimately puts writing on pause. (And because you’ve learned how to write every day, you recognize it as a “pause” and not a “stop.”)
You may have a cyclical creative cycle, and because you’ve spent months or years striving to be disciplined with your writing, you’ve learned when to crack the whip and when to back off.
Writing every day gives you the chance to better know yourself as a writer. There’s really no down side to that.
Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Seriously, seriously tried it.
Your efforts will pay dividends.