Authors Answer 122 – Should You Write Every Day?

This month, we return to regular questions and answers, but we have a theme for the month. We’re looking at common advice that may be considered either bad or good advice. We’re starting off with how often we should write.

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 122 – Write every day. Do you agree or disagree, and why?

Tracey Lynn Tobin

Although I might possibly be the worst person in the world at actually adhering to this advice, I do actually agree. In order to be a writer, you have to write, and write a lot, so the best way of accomplishing that is to write something – anything – every day. In that way it becomes a habit, something that you do automatically. Additionally, if you’re writing daily – even if it’s not anything that goes toward your current WIP – you’re getting lots of practice in, and that is never a bad thing. The more you write, the better you’re going to get, and even if what you’re writing is complete crap, it could eventually become something that you come back to and turn into a masterpiece.

Gregory S. Close

Sure, write every day.  If you can.  If you can’t, don’t waste any time worrying that you aren’t writing every day – just write when you can.  It’s great to set goals, so if a realistic goal is writing x amount of words every day – then set it.  If it’s not a realistic goal, then please don’t.  I would substitute “consistently” for “every day” and that’s a more accurate measure.  Write consistently, push yourself when you can (don’t just let yourself off easy), but there’s not a hard and fast rule that says you have to write every day to be a good or successful writer.

Jean Davis

Disagree, sort of. Should you try to write every day, sure, it’s a good way to train your brain to be productive, but my writing also benefits from taking a break for day or two when my creative juices run dry or my head just isn’t in the game. Forcing myself to pound out words I know are no good or stare at a blinking cursor isn’t good for me or what I’m trying to write.

C E Aylett

Yes, I do agree. Writing every day gets you into the habit, then you find you can’t NOT write. I also don’t believe in waiting for inspiration to hit. That may have worked well back in the days of the Brontë sisters when the aristocracy had nothing better but to gaze out of their country manor windows, but in our current lifestyles, when so many things compete for our time, we have to
set aside time for it. Once you make it a part of your daily routine, ideas begin to pop so fast you can’t keep up with them. Also, if you are working on bigger projects, keeping them in mind on a daily basis, even if it is only writing 100 words, keeps you connected to the story.

In saying that, I have writing bouts. Usually in the school holidays I don’t work much on novel projects, and I can go for several weeks not really writing anything. Maybe I’ll edit instead and leave the creation of new material for when the house is quieter. Once I get back into it, I’m on it every weekday. Weekends I reserve for writing blog articles.

Either way, some sort of writing or editing will occur on a daily basis.

Beth Aman

Somewhat agree.  There’s definitely something to be said for writing consistently, for setting aside time daily to meet with your story.  That’s part of the beauty of things like NaNoWriMo: they force you to stay in your story, to keep your head in the game.  HOWEVER.  If you have a life outside of writing, it’s not necessarily practical to write every single day.  And it can be counter-productive to teach people “you must write every day or else you’re not a writer.”  The important thing is to write whenever you can, and to forgive yourself when you can’t.

Eric Wood

I guess it depends on why you’re writing. If you’re writing a book with the hope of being published to make money then I would say yes, write every day. The more you write the more the ideas will flow. I count the editing process as writing, too.  If you’re just writing a blog as a hobby (as I do) then write just enough to keep you interested. If your interest feels more like work than play then it’s no longer interesting.

D. T. Nova

The fact that many writers simply can’t do this should not be minimized.

I would say “Write on every day that you reasonably can.”

Cyrus Keith

Of course, write every day. You want it to be a job? Treat it like it’s your job. In a good way, that is. But still, discipline yourself. Many pro’s have daily word quotas, even if it’s unassociated drivel. You’re a writer. Write. Stay on rhythm.

H. Anthe Davis

I agree with making an attempt at this.  It’s one of the things that pushed me from only periodically hacking at my manuscript to actually making leaps and bounds of progress, and publishing three books (with two more still being worked on).  I used to feel that I could only write when I was inspired to, and while that still stands for short stories (which otherwise I hate writing with every fiber of my being), with novels there’s a lot of material that’s just setup, or explanation, or rough-draft raw material that doesn’t require you to be possessed by the creative fire at the time.  I’ve found myself far more capable of writing decent text even when I feel like a lump of crud; this delusion I have that I’ll forget how to write if I’m in a mood or put it off too long is, indeed, just a delusion.  Most of the work in writing is the refining of the drafts anyway.  What you put out from day to day isn’t the final version that everyone will see.  So even if it does happen to be sludge, it’s the sludge of progress.

That being said, everyone needs their rest days, or has days when opening the document is just too much stress.  Still, constant progress is a good habit to get into, as is understanding that every word doesn’t need to be perfect right as it’s first spilling out of your pen (or keyboard).

Paul B. Spence

Disagree. I write when I can. I have a life, career, etc., outside writing. I write well when I think about my subject and let it percolate in my brain. Seems to work for me. If you average the number of words I write in a year, it comes out over 500 words a day. So even when I sleep, I’m writing. *grin*

Jay Dee Archer

In principle, it’s a good idea to write every day. Realistically, I don’t think it’s possible for most people. If you do it full time, then write as much as you can. If you want to write every day, then go ahead and do it. But even authors need to have days off. Between books, some authors may take time off to promote their books, go on signing tours, and so on. But do they write during that time? Some might, some may not. Personally, I’ve been terrible at writing my book every day. But I do try to write something every day, and that is this blog. I’m doing something, even though it might not be fiction.

How about you?

If you’re an author, do you agree or disagree? Should you write every day? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

14 thoughts on “Authors Answer 122 – Should You Write Every Day?”

  1. I write every day and glad that I do. Some days I am not particularly in the mood or too busy but I make out time to dig in for a short while and it does help.

    Let me invite you to my blog party. It just started. Here’s the link.

  2. Reblogged this on Michael Seidel, writer and commented:
    The eternal question. Writing is as individual and personal as other activities so you figure out what works best for you. For me, it’s writing every day. Writing in my head or phantom writing doesn’t count, either; it needs to be something I can read and edit later. Sometimes my will wilts and I don’t write every day. I’m traveling, I’m sing, or the time and stars don’t align for it. Then I feel depressed, frustrated and a little angry. It probably isn’t healthy. From this, I sometimes think I’m addicted to writing every day, and that I need my daily fix.

  3. Anyone who says, “I write better when I write every day,” is probably right. Anyone who says, “Everyone writes better when they write every day,” is wrong. I think whether or not writing every day is the best approach depends on the individual. (I tried writing every day, and what I wrote then was crap.)

    There are other reasons why “Write every day!” is not the best advice.

    (I write something for my blog nearly every day, but I don’t count that. I’m not a blogger; I’m an editor and fiction writer who happens to have a blog. Besides, if practice is ever going to make perfect, it needs to be practice in what one is trying to perfect. Blogging isn’t practice in fiction writing.)

  4. To borrow from Kurt Vonnegut, I make black marks on white paper, some of which are legible, and it happens that I do it everyday. That is why I say that I write everyday. However, I agree with Thomas Weaver that to advise writers that they MUST write everyday is classist.

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