Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Writers Write.... Every Day?

"You have to write every day."

I've heard this gem around writer's forms, said by agents and editors and authors themselves. And for the most part, I agree with it. If you want to be a professional writer, you have to write pretty much every day. You can't write just when the inspiration strikes, or you'll never produce anything fast enough.

If you don't want to be a professional writer, then hell, take as much time as you need. Write only when the inspiration hits. Wear crappy berets and sit in coffee shops telling strangers about YOUR PROCESS.

But if you want to be a professional writer, do you really have to write every day?

I didn't write today. I realized this on the way home from work. Partly, this was due to me buying the long awaited Shut Out by Kody Keplinger (which was fabulous, of course.) but it was partly due to errands and doing this necessary to, you know, live.

But I could be writing. As I work on this blog post now, I could be writing. I could have dinner, and then for an hour or two sit at my desk and write before bed.

But I'm not going to.

I don't have family demands (actually, my house is quite empty at the precise moment) I don't have other obligations to fulfill. I have no viable excuse not to write. Instead, I'm going to make myself dinner, park myself in front of the TV, and watch cartoons while surfing the 'net for things I find amusing.

Does this make me a bad writer?

There are many writers out there who have a hard time forcing themselves to write. It takes effort for them to focus and plow through hard parts when they'd rather be out doing other things or giving up on the project entirely. Honestly, if you're this type of writer, you HAVE to sit down and write EVERY DAY. Because up until this point, your life has been structured without putting in the time it takes to write. Learning to write is a lot like being on a diet-- it's a change of lifestyle, a change of habits you have to get used to.

But once your used to it, is the strict schedule really necessary? Do we fear that, after spending so much time learning this discipline, that a night or a week or a month away will ruin it?


Those questions can be summed up in that simple answer, in my opinion.

Discipline is discipline. Something that takes that long to build and work for doesn't disappear the second we take our eyes off of it. It can be easy to fall off the bandwagon and spiral back into those bad cycles of not wanting to work on the novel. But that takes weeks, even months to do. If you've been writing seriously for years, then it can take YEARS to lose that discipline. Give or take some time depending on personality types. But that's not what I'm talking about.

Writing every day isn't necessary. It's healthy, and it certainly helps build up your craft, but will you fail as a writer if you don't? No. The average publisher expects an author to pump out one novel a year, and if you write more than that, great! But this doesn't mean you should force yourself into a situation where you feel you HAVE to write, to the point where the fun is sucked out of it. Writing is supposed to be fun, even if it is a job. And like every job, we all need a little time away from it to breathe.

Here's my take on it:

I also think my flowchart skills could use some work. Oh well.




  1. I agree with what you are saying. I think the hardest part for me, personally, is this shift from having written my rough draft to knowing I'm at the point where I am ready for my first round of revision. Writing the draft was fun. But doing the revision feels a little daunting.

    My boyfriend suggested that I make a list of the scenes that need re-writes and pretend that I'm still writing the draft since what I am correcting right now is plot and character stuff. Maybe I'll try that next.

    I also wanted to thank you for mentioning Shut Out. I just finished The DUFF a few days ago and I will definitely have to pick Shut Out up when it releases next week.

  2. OMG I love this post. You are absolutely right. Writing is like a diet. And my strategy to make my diet work is to make it a lifestyle, not a do this for 30 days then go binge ritual. So whenever I "fall off the wagon" nutrition wise or writing, I say, "Okay. Tomorrow is a new day."

    I actually just posted a blog today about not meeting my deadline and how excited I am about that because I got so much done. Here's the link:

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