You Don’t Have to Write Every Single Day
How not to feel guilty when you take a break
I get it. We all want to shine in this world as writers. We want to be in our readers' mailbox. We want to survive on this and every other platform. We need to survive, and for that, we need to publish stories constantly so that readers know we are still here.
Oh, how many times I’ve rushed to write a story only to not feel obsolete? To make sure my few followers received a notification with my name on it? To just not be forgotten?
Many times. And I kept my writing goals. I would write every single day, even when I didn’t feel like it. I would write even when I didn’t have a clue about what to write. I would write when there was nothing for me to say. I would write after my 9 hours day-job and my night shift as a mom. I would write until exhaustion.
I am not alone. Who’s not guilty of reading those articles on “5 reasons you should write every day” or “how to make a daily writing habit.” I’d read those more than I read any other topic. I guess that’s how algorithms work.
And then, life happened.
I’d gone through a rather tough month. My kids got sick, one after the other. Nothing serious, but enough to keep me from sleeping the minimum 6 hours a day. I had to face a very conflicting situation at work, my actual job, that absorbed all of my energy and left an emotional void. I had to deal with short and urgent academic deadlines. It was tough, alright.
On top of all this, I couldn’t find the time to write. And all I felt was guilt and self-deprecation. I entered a loop:
I want to write.
I need to write.
I can’t write.
I should have written.
I’ll never be a real writer.
And again… And again.
So, how do you get off this loop? How do you overcome the guilt of not writing every day?
After a few couples of weeks dealing with this guilt, I’ve come to terms with not writing every day. And this is what I’ve learned.
Go back to the basics
I started writing because I wanted to express my thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. I started writing because it helps me understand how I feel, think, and behave. I write because I find comfort in it. I write because is my passion, my escape valve, my world.
When we derail from our original purpose, we end up feeling lost and looking endlessly for meaning.
So, if you can’t write, for whatever reason, and you feel the guilt of not writing, remind yourself why you’d started.
Platforms, analytics, newsletters, social media, spam emails, are constantly pushing us to compete. If they can write every single day, I should too. But is this really serving your purpose? Would your naïve, passionate young writer-self write every day only to get more views or more likes?
I know mine wouldn’t. I know my young-self would say: “only write when and what you feel it’s right”. I know my naïve-self would say: “writing is a passion, not a job.”
And I think my naïve, passionate young writer-self knows better. She knows why I write. She knows how I feel when I write with my heart out. She knows I’m a writer despite what the views and likes say about it.
And now I’m listening. Whenever I get to take a break from writing, whether intentional or consequential, I take my young-self advice. I live in the present.
If I can’t write today, then be it. Tomorrow will be a new day. If tomorrow is not my day, then I’ll enjoy that bad day. Next week might be my week. If it happens to be a month, I then imagine next month I’ll have so much to say.
Live the present. Write, don’t write. Only you know what’s best for you, and if you have doubts, ask your naïve, romantic young-self. What would she do?
One bite at a time
Ok, so I know sometimes the guilt is stronger than our willingness to go back to the basics.
It’s like that little voice never tires of telling you what to do. You should write, Maria. You should wake up earlier, Maria. You should stop procrastinating, Maria. You should….
Guilt is like having a starving puppy. But less cute. Let’s say is like having a starving hamster. Oh wait, that’s also cute. Ok, imagine a starving cute-less pet. Starring at you, following you everywhere, ready to jump all over you to take a bite. If you don’t want it to get aggressive, you need to feed her before is too late. But don’t just throw the big feast right away, she’ll only get hungrier. Give her little bites.
Instead of letting that guilt eat you alive, feed her little bites. You can’t write a story today. You can’t sit for an hour to pour words in a paper. That’s a fact. So when guilt takes over, give her the small bites. Write some headline ideas. It’ll take you 10 minutes and you will feel relieved. Outline an article idea, 15 minutes, and you’ll feel you didn’t waste your time.
Few chunks of writing will ease your mind and will help you stay on track when the right time to write comes.
Guilt, go to sleep!
Come back stronger
Our souls, minds, and bodies need rest. They need to recover from whatever pressure they’ve gone through. You can’t get up running if you haven’t walked first.
Take time. Enjoy the break. Breathe. Recover. Walk. Build strength. Gain momentum. And then run.
Come back stronger. Once the time is right, make up for those weeks you didn’t write. Write your heart out. Be fearless, bold, authentic. Write as your young-self would.
Write. Just write.
Don’t care about quantity. Don’t count the words. Don’t think about likes. Don’t care about the audience.
Write, because you don’t know what awaits you tomorrow.
Write today, tomorrow can wait.
Don’t let other people tell you how much you should write. Don’t think you’re less of a writer because you don’t write every single day. Don’t think you don’t have the courage. Don’t let the guilt eat you alive.
Write or don’t write every day. That’s up to you.
Just remember being a writer is much more than putting words down.
Only you know what kind of writer you want to be. Only you get to determine what being a writer is. And if you don’t know anymore, ask your naïve, passionate writer-self.
Wondering how to come up with new writing ideas? Check out these 7 Original ways to find writing ideas.