I never understood asking if you should write every day if your goal is to be a writer.
A friend of mine recently started working on his dream of being a writer.
He’s a mechanic by trade but has always been a creative at heart.
This is a conversation we had recently:
Him: Yeah I’m 50 pages into my novel.
Me: That’s great. So you’ve been writing every day like we talked about?
Him: No. Just when I feel inspired. I can’t create when I’m not feeling it.
Me: Do you fix cars when you’re not feeling it?
Me: You heard me. Do you fix cars when you’re not inspired?
Him: Your point?
Me: My point is being a writer is just like being a mechanic, you show up, you do the work whether you feel like it or not. You want to be a writer. Show up every day and do the work.
Here’s the deal, if you aren’t a serious writer and you are just writing as a hobby, by all means only write when inspiration strikes or when you feel like it.
However, if you’re writing with the hopes of it being your full-time career or even a part-time side hustle than writing every day is a must, and no, there is no other option.
I’m a professional writer, many of my friends are professional writers, and at no point have any of us ever asked should we write every day. We ask how many pages did you write today or how many words did you write or we grumble about how we only were able to write for a couple of hours because life got in the way.
But if we should write every day?
Some years ago I was watching an interview with Walter Mosley (Easy Rawlings series ) and the interviewer asked him if he wrote every day. He said, of course, but only for three or four hours and he made it sound like the three or four hours wasn’t really that much time to write daily.
Think about that, only three or four hours a day. Every day. No exceptions.
And it’s not just Walter Mosley; if you take a look at the writing habits of some of the world’s most successful writers (past and present) they all write daily for varying hours or word counts.
Stephen King: 2000 words a day
Tom Wolfe: 135 words a day
Maya Angelou: 5 to 7 hours a day
Kate DiCamillo: 600–900 words a day
Michael Crichton: 10,000 words a day
While some writers are asking should I write every day, these successful authors are out here doing the work.
If writing every day is good for them, why wouldn’t it be the right decision for you?
But what about inspiration?
What about it?
Art isn’t something that happens when you feel inspired. Art happens when you put in the work to be inspired.
Any professional writer will tell you much of what you write will be schlock that will make it to the trash by the end of the day. However, it’s the act of writing that allows you to turn all that writing coal into writing diamonds.
The more you work, the more inspired you become and the more likely you are to write your way into the masterpiece you’re trying to create.
However, if you wait for inspiration to strike, you are putting too much pressure on yourself to write something great in that very moment because who knows when inspiration will strike again.
Or you could just be like William Faulkner:
“I only write when inspiration strikes. Fortunately, it strikes at nine every morning.”
If you’re looking to make writing more than just a hobby, let inspiration strike you every day as well.