Yes, you read that right. While practically everyone else is telling you “write every day” like a mantra to be repeated until you are getting very sleepy, I am telling you the exact opposite.
Why? Why not write every day? Isn’t practice the key to getting better? If all the bestselling authors say it, isn’t that the secret to becoming a brilliant author?
Yes, and no. I think “write every day” is good advice for those just starting out. When you are just starting as a writer, you need all the time and practice you can get to develop yourself as a writer, which can only really come from getting words on the page. So if you are new to writing, by all means, write every day. If you are anyone really, and you want to write every day, by all means go for it!
I am not here to stand in the way of anyone who wants to write all the time. That’s awesome, go do it! I am here to talk to those who beat themselves up because they don’t.
First of all, writing every day assumes a lot of things. You don’t have a full-time day job, or three kids, or a full class load, or a social life, or basically anything else. It assumes you have time to sit down at a computer and pour your soul out, every day of the week. Even if you can find time to wedge writing between the conference calls and cleaning spit up and cramming for a test, do you really want to write right then?
You sit down and stare at that blinking cursor on a blank part of the page, and it seems a lot less like your passion and more like another one of the day’s many chores to cross off your list. I don’t think anyone should ever feel that way about writing. When that happens, you have stopped being a writer, and become a machine, going through the motions.
Yes, there will be days you don’t feel like writing, and you shouldn’t let that stop you. You shouldn’t use lack of motivation or inspiration as an excuse, but sometimes it happens. Sometimes you just don’t feel like writing, and you shouldn’t force it. You shouldn’t force it because then your words will feel forced, which the reader can tell, not to mention you end up starting to hate everything to do with writing.
The only time I have ever forced myself to write (almost) every day was for CampNaNo. Honestly, I would never do it again. I was exhausted, and every time I sat down to write I started to hate it more and more. The words suffered for it, too. I am still cleaning up the mess of some of those scenes I wrote, and probably will be for a while to come.
I don’t write every day because writing every day sucks the life and joy out of it for me. I start to dread it, feel obligated, and guilty when I don’t. I hate that feeling. When I sit down to write, I want to feel excited. I want my mind to be whirling with all kinds of scenes and voices and images that I just can’t wait to put on the page.
Now one thing I will tell you to do (almost) every day is read. I learn more in an hour of reading than I do in ten hours of writing, and I could never get burnt out.
Writing every day works for some people, which is great (but we secretly hate those people). For those of you who it doesn’t work for (like me) don’t worry about it. Write as much as you can, as often as you can, but never let it take away your love for writing.