Classic Writing Advice: Write Every Day

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by Kate M. Colby

In this new series, I want to explore some of the classic writing advice given to authors and provide my opinions on any experiences with them. I don’t do this because I think I’m some brilliant writing authority – far from it. Rather, I’ve learned the most valuable writing lesson of all, one that you’ve probably heard, but that takes a long time to sink in:

There is no magic secret to writing. You just do it, and every writer does it differently.

BUT, even if you (logically) know this to be true, chances are you’ve Googled anyway (don’t be embarrassed – I still do it, too!). In those well-meaning search results, you’ve likely seen the golden nugget of writing advice: write every day.

A literal interpretation demands that you type/hand write/dictate new words every single day.

In theory, this is great advice. After all, even if you just write 250 words a day, over the course of a year that’s 91,250 words (about the length of my first novel).

If you are a beginning writer – without a finished manuscript – then I 100% agree with this advice. Your No. 1 priority should be practicing your craft and generating content. In fact, why don’t you go bang out your 250 words right now? It’ll be more useful to you than reading this post.

Now, what about us non-beginners? Those of us who have a completed book (or several)? Here’s where I start to disagree with “Write every day.”

I don’t know about you, but as a human, I have a demanding day job, a husband and cat, an active social life, and an apartment to upkeep. Finding time to type out those words can be really damn difficult. In any given day, I have between 45 minutes and 2.5 hours free to work on my author business.

And as an independent author, I mean B–capital IZ–ness. There’s a lot to do. I’m currently editing my second novel, plus writing and publishing a series of nonfiction booklets. Add in this blog, my author newsletter, social media, organizing promotional opportunities, emailing my cover designer … you get the point. There’s a lot of shit to do (I say “shit” lovingly – being an author really is the best job in the world to me).

So, can I find time to write every day? Yes. And you can, too. If you really simplify your schedule and overcome your laziness, you can write every single day. And we absolutely should. Every word we write makes us better.

But do you HAVE to write every single day to be a successful author? I don’t think so. As long as you are editing, revising, writing your book description, or in some way putting art into the world and moving your project forward, then I say that’s A-O-K.

It all depends on your definition of success. When I defined success as writing new words every day, I considered myself a failure. Even while I was revising my first novel for publication, I kept saying, “Damn it, Kate! We have to start writing a new book! We suck!” I was blind to the fact that I WAS succeeding, because my end goal is publishing the fiction I write.

If your goal is to write for betterment or to finish that first manuscript, then please write every day. No exceptions. No excuses.

But if you have a finished book sitting on your hard drive, your goal is to publish said book, and you have very limited free time, for the love of Hemingway give yourself a break and do this instead: Move forward every day.

Editing counts. Revising counts. Outlining counts. Writing that dreaded book description counts.

The only thing that doesn’t count? Ignoring your book and denying the world your art.

There you have them, your marching orders. Now go move forward today.

 

 

 

Guest post contributed by Kate M. Colby. Kate is a writer of multi-genre fiction and creative nonfiction as well as a writing-craft blogger. Kate graduated summa cum laude from Baker University with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, Creative Writing, and Sociology.


226373498_dacf4f263f_bNeed help with your book or novel? Check out the Writer’s Toolbox, a list of free, discounted, and overall helpful links to tools and benefits to help you with what you do best: writing.


 

 

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22 thoughts on “Classic Writing Advice: Write Every Day”

  1. I created my blog to encourage myself to write every day. Even if those dreams are sometimes silly and don’t mean much in the long scheme of things, I write them down every day. It keeps me writing, keeps me motivated.

    That and looking back at the dreams is ofttimes amusing.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The one problem I have with that advice is that it’s too easy to feel disappointed when you miss a day. I am very hard on myself if I don’t write every day. Finding time is a challenge. I do what I can, though.

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  3. During a writing conference I went to in 2015, a panel of authors discussed this subject. They came to a conclusion (which I LOVE) that “writing every day” doesn’t mean literally producing content every day, because like you said, there’s not always time or energy or the right kind of focus. They said reading can be considered writing, if you’re one of those people who’s capable of reading while in the middle of a work in progress, as long as that reading somehow helps to benefit your writing. Research, editing, blogging, plotting, even just thinking about a scene and jotting some notes down is good enough as long as you don’t make too many excuses for yourself. Like if you only have 30 minutes to spare and you do research for 25 that doesn’t mean you should feel like you *have* to church a few lines out in the last 5 minutes you have left. I think as long as you’re focused on your work on a daily basis, it’s totally acceptable not to actually add to your word count. Better to be in a focused frame of mind than to be scrambling to churn something out just because you know you should use your spare 15 minutes. The last thing you want is for the thing you ostensibly love to do to make you anxious. At least that’s my philosophy 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I like your point. Basically writing everyday is good but going not to much hard on oneself is a important. We’re human beings we’re not always in a same mood. So, the basic point is to keep on doing everything which is in someway or other related to writing.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I have the same philosophy but my issue is this becomes an excuse when I don’t write. And if I’m being honest, some of the stuff I’m doing as ‘business’ stuff is just junk but junk that sucks you in. I love researching and world building so much I can get sucked in and forget to just write the dang thing.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. That’s a great advice. But in practical scenario, it’s sometimes just not possible to write…you are just not in the right frame of mind to churn out words in the limited time at hand. But yes, as mentioned in comments above, we should utilize those moments in polishing other forms of creative writing even reading for that matter. I am a little relieved to know that I am not the only one with this thought process 🙂 Great post!

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  5. I agree it is less about writing every day and more about doing something everyday. At the end of the day, self-published or represented, we all have to treat our brand like a business. Writing is major part of that obviously, but if we can’t see ourselves the whole thing collapses. Great post.

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  6. I haven’t left the house without a notebook and a pencil or pen since I was five. Some people feel naked without make up or a rabbit’s foot. I feel naked without even a pen. I lost my driver’s license the other day and I was more panicked over the fact I didn’t have a pen to write my name. I wonder if there’s a syndrome for that.

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  7. Anything that can contribute to you being a better writer counts.
    For me, exploring and hanging out with friends and talking to people is essential to discuss ideas and lighten myself up. It adds to my characters. I can incorporate new behaviours in them, synthesize new characters and think up new philosophies.
    I make the best new philosophies and quotes when I’m talking to people. And more often than not, I’m incorporating that into my writings!

    Like

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