How many times have you heard this advice?
“You have to write every day!”
In my mind, I always hear that as, “Write every day, or you suck!” or “Write every day, or you’re not a real writer!”
At this point, I’m tired of this advice, and I’m ready to call B.S. on it.
Like you, I know I’m an active writer.
I’ve published two books, and I’m working on the next two. I write regularly for my own blog. I submit guest articles to other publications.
But … I don’t write every single day.
I usually write four to five days each week. But there have been some weeks over the last few months when I haven’t written anything.
And you know what?
I’m still a writer.
I don’t panic about not writing every day, because the writing process takes different forms at different times.
Here’s how I see my writing process
1. Writing isn’t always about writing.
My current book project is unlike anything I’ve done before. It’s taking a very winding path. I’ve had to learn new skills. I’ve had to do a ton of research.
During much of this time, I have not been writing. I’ve been doing all of the things I need to do to get ready for writing.
Now that I am actually putting words down on the page, I don’t view the past two months as having been a waste. Without that time not writing, I wouldn’t be able to start writing now.
2. I write to complete projects and deadlines.
My motivation for writing is not so that I can get in 500 or 1,000 words today. My motivation is to finish a book or publish a new blog post, or submit a short story to an event.
This means that my motivation ebbs and flows as needed to meet my goals.
I’m writing a lot at the moment, because I have two open book projects I’m trying to finish, and I’ve committed to publishing a new article on my blog every week through the fall.
However, over the summer, I took a sabbatical from work and did research for the new book, so I wasn’t getting much writing in.
The upshot here, is that writing 500 words for the sake of writing 500 words doesn’t make me a better writer. Writing 500 words on an actual writing project makes me a better writer.
3. My way is different than Stephen King’s, and that’s OK.
I’ve worked with hundreds of writers over the years, and none of them uses the exact same work process.
Too many times we hear a story about how some famous writer gets their work done, and we automatically assume “that’s how real writers work!”
But that’s not true. Some writers get it done at 5 AM. Some stay up late drinking and watching Netflix, and finally sit down to the page at lunchtime the next day.
Some writers write 5,000 words a day, and some are lucky to eek out 300 in one sitting.
You have to find your own process—the way you create—and then get comfortable with that.
For me, it’s not writing every day. It may not be for you either.
Let go of the myth that you have to “write every day.”
You’re a writer if you say you’re a writer.
And that’s it.
September 13, 2016