Why You Should Be Writing Every Day
For a long time, I lived my life in two modes.
In the first mode, I lived as someone who wanted to be a writer. I read a lot. I studied other writers. I bought books on writing and had the nicest notebooks you could imagine. I even invested in some specialized software designed just for writers. I hung out in a lot of coffee shops.
But I wasn’t writing much. Maybe I wrote a couple of pages in longhand while sitting in a bohemian-style coffeehouse on a rainy Sunday afternoon. There are small grease spots on the page from the crumbs of a too-buttery croissant eaten at the time. And if I dig around my computer archives long enough, I’d find a few paragraphs here and there written with that specialty software package. Sadly, they’d be undecipherable as they wouldn’t be compatible with anything I’m running today.
Neither the notebook nor those old text files really proved me to be much of a writer. I was a dilettante at best.
My second mode took hold much later. I’m not sure what flipped that switch. Maybe it was finding an audience. Maybe it was the money. Whatever the case, in an uncharacteristic case of actually writing, I managed to write a story and sell it for professional rates.
I kept writing.
I’d continue to sell a story or a poem here and there over the next few years and even made some decent money on a few nonfiction pieces.
Color me surprised. There might be something to this.
Writing every single day
There have been ups and downs, but if I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that the key to enjoying any kind of success — personal and professional — as a writer, it’s to write every single day.
And I learned within the community of writers that this isn’t anything new. If you talk with any successful author or anyone else who manages to make a living by stringing words together, they will tell you to do the same.
Methods and routines will vary from person to person, and that’s where it’s on you to find what works best for you. That means your best practice could be a nine-hour session every day. (Don’t laugh, I knew a guy who did this and made a good living.) It could mean an hour.
A lot will depend on what’s going on in your life.
Even if some of those days are only made up of ten minutes’ worth of writing, you’re better off than you would be had you not written anything at all.
Working on your writing muscles
One thing that helps many writers is considering the act of writing as a form of exercise. Professional athletes hit the gym every day. If you are a professional writer, you’re going to want to hit the keyboard (or notebook) every day as well. Make it routine. Have a standard workout you do each day at a minimum. It could be half an hour in the morning and half an hour at night. Or a full hour once a day, or an hour and a half twice a day.
Whatever you decide, imagine it as you would imagine an athlete staying in shape for their own career.
From there, feel free to mix it up a bit. Once they have their standard routine down, pro athletes add something extra on odd days, or they change the order of their individual exercises.
You can apply that same strategy. On Mondays and Fridays, add a poem to your writing day. Or maybe some song lyrics. Make Wednesday your marathon day and double your writing time.
Whenever you shake up your routine, you want to increase your writing time, but in ways that make it more interesting.
When to take a break
When you dread sitting down to write more than a couple of days in a row.
We all face the dread from time to time. It’s perfectly natural. Writing can be physically and emotionally exhausting — even if we’ve trained up for it. At the same time, we shouldn’t hate our vocation.
Should you find yourself dreading the task of writing, or feeling like you hate what you’re doing for more than a couple of days in a row, go ahead and take a break. Take a few days. Take a week. Come back, refreshed.
Over time, you’ll find yourself dreading less overall. You’ll still want to take a short break here and there, but by then, the practice of writing every day should have made you a pretty hotshot writer who can afford to take some time now and then.
Writing every day will improve your writing considerably
Even if you don’t have anything special you’re working on, like a novel or story or nonfiction piece, you should still be writing. In days of yore, many writers kept diaries and journals. They wrote letters — long, impeccably crafted letters that are still read today.
There’s no reason you couldn’t do that. Many modern writers have taken up blog writing. Some fill their spare hours writing for sites like this.
Or they write things no one else will ever see.
The point is that they’re writing — even when they don’t need to be. And you could too.
Because the more you do something, the better you get. The more you practice the piano, the better you get. Even if you started out as the worse musician on the planet, time and daily practice pay off.
They pay off.
So keep writing. Every single day.
It will be worth it.
It may be slow in revealing its value, but the value will eventually be revealed.
And it will be all your doing.
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