You hear this all the time. To be a successful writer, write every day! Some even go so far to say that if you don’t, you aren’t even a REAL writer.
Is there anything wrong with writing every day? Absolutely not. It is a good habit which will surely make you a better writer. Is it mandatory to become a successful writer? No.
So why do so many people swear by this?
Well, a lot of successful writers write every day. Stephen King is one. He even writes a few thousand words on holidays. Say there was a horrible flood and they had to evacuate, he’d probably be writing on the boat that was taking them to safety. I’m sure he’d make a really good book out of it.
Not all successful writers take the time to write every single day.
Do they make it a priority? Yes.
By the time they are successful, writing is probably their sole job, so probably a high percentage of them do write every day. I would to, if that was my only job.
I can tell you though, some professional writers do not always write every single day. Someone I follow recently transitioned from writing part time to writing full time. She thought she was going to experience the proverbial wake up, have a cup of coffee, sit for hours and write. She found her life drastically different. She had meetings to go to, conferences to speak at, and a million other things she had to do to keep the multiple streams of income going and paying the bills. She said she had a hard time finding time to write…now that she was doing it full time.
Making Writing a Priority
I’ve heard a lot of people say, “One day I’d like to write a book, but I just don’t have time right now.”
That is bunk! They will never write that book…unless they change their mindset. Everyone has time, it is just a matter of how you prioritize that time. Those same people who say they don’t have time, can tell me the details of the latest hit TV show. They have time. They just prioritize mindlessly watching TV instead of writing. (I get it; it helps de-stress.)
I have a friend in my critique group, who is almost done writing her book. For the last 2 years she has written her whole novel during her 15 minute afternoon break. The book is amazing too! I swear she is going to have multiple offers on the thing when she sends it out. I can’t wait to share with y’all once it does come out. So 15 minutes a day. That is all.
So, How Do I Do It?
I personally couldn’t write a novel in 15 minute increments. It takes me 15 minutes to get my head in the story, so that method won’t work for me, as it might not work for you. I am a 6th grade English teacher by day. (Typing this post on my 20 minute lunch break) Let me tell you, I love my job. There is NEVER a dull moment. It is always something new every day even though I’ve been teaching this for 17 years. Helping kids learn and grow is the challenge because every one of my 75 students each year is unique. So when I get home….my brain is utter mush…like a pile of old oatmeal. I can barely make dinner for my family, read to/with my son, and fall into bed. I’m imagining many of you are the same way. You have responsibilities. #reallife
For the last 2 years I’ve been in grad school in addition to work. (FINALLY DONE as of this month! YEAH!) Wow! I REALLY, literally didn’t have a ton of time! I squeezed in writing when ever I could. Usually between semesters. I wrote a few short stories, got one published and started shopping a second one around.
I didn’t even TRY to work on a novel during that time. My brain just couldn’t hold the information needed for a novel. A short story though, sure, I could tackle that.
So, what do I do now? I write when I can. I commit to writing every week. Sometimes I’ll work on blog posts during my lunch and sometimes my brain is only a little oatmeally at the end of the day, so I write then. I spend all evening every Friday at my writing group, mostly brainstorming. Then Saturday I spend a few hours sitting on the couch while the family watches cartoons or some movie or whatever. I type on my laptop. Sunday is mostly family time, but sometimes I write a little.
Confession: My house is NOT a spotless museum of beauty. I sometimes…and by sometimes I mean ALWAYs… prioritize writing over dusting and vacuuming on a daily or weekly basis. Writing is way more fun than dusting and I’m just that irresponsible.
If I wrote every single day, would I be a better writer.
They don’t call me turtle for nothing. I’ve always been slow and steady. I’m tenacious. Determined. I don’t give up. I am an achiever. I set a realistic long term goal and accomplish it. I’ve done it over and over again in my life. I’ll do it again. AND I’ll do it my way!
I planned each charted courseFrank Sinatra
Each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way
Write when you can. Make it a priority. Don’t beat yourself up over it if you just can’t write every single day.
- Write on your break 15 minutes a day.
- Write on your lunch break
- Get up early in the morning.
- Write after you get the kids to bed. (Or if you are a kid, write after your parents put you to bed. LOL! Actually no, as a growing kid you need your sleep.)
- Kids, write on your phone during your lunch break. (Believe me, middle school lunch room offers plenty of inspiration)
- skip the TV shows or other down times or write while you watch TV
- keep a notebook handy or take notes on your phone when you get an idea
- schedule writing time on your calendar