Welcome to a new series of posts that I’ve decided to call Dubious Writing Advice with Simone, where I bring you writing tips that may or may not be all that great! After all, everyone’s creative process is different, and what works for me may not work for you.
To kick things off, I want to talk about something I’ve been trying to do since the start of 2019: write every day.
I used to be one of those people who only sat down to write when either 1) the Writing Muse struck, or 2) the guilt I felt for not writing finally forced me to open a new document.
Needless to say, I was writing maybe one or two days a week at best, and once a month at worst.
Back in the day, that was fine. I was writing merely for the love of it and I had no obligations to produce content. I wasn’t making any money from it, didn’t really have to stick to a schedule, and could do things at my own pace (even if it did upset some readers… sorry, y’all)
But now I have deadlines and contracts. I have paying consumers who deserve to have their entertainment delivered on time. I have dreams of writing and querying a new project that I’ve had in mind for years. All of that means I don’t have time to laze around and wait for the Muse to strike.
So let’s talk about writing every single day and why I try my best to do it.
Let’s start with whether or not I was “successful” with writing every day from January to the end of March. I put successful in quotes because my metric for success in writing “every day” may be a little different from yours or someone else’s. Personally, I believe in giving yourself a break when you need it, and that editing counts as writing when it comes to working on a manuscript. But we’ll get into that more later on.
Overall, I think I was pretty dang successful at writing nearly every day during January, February and March. I wrote a total of 33,521 words in those three months, which is a heck of a lot more than I would have managed if I only worked on my WIP when I wanted to or when I felt inspired.
In my head, I set myself a daily goal of writing at least 500 words. As you can see from the chart… that didn’t happen most of the time. There were some days where I barely managed a 100 words. But on the other end of the spectrum, there were days when I wrote over 1,000.
You’ll see a few days where there are counts of less than 30 words or even negative numbers. Those were days when I was either editing what I’d written so far (the negatives are deleted words, the low word count is usually added words to certain sentences) or outlining in one of Scrivener’s dedicated places for notes, where what you write isn’t added to your main word count. Either way, I was working on my WIP.
Where there are skipped dates, 90% of those are days where I simply didn’t write anything. The other 10% are days when I wrote something in another document, such as Word or Google Docs because I didn’t have access to my main Scrivener doc.
Now, let’s talk about how I managed to write pretty consistently over those three months.
Finding the Motivation
I’m going to be completely honest: those 33k words are the product of treating writing like it’s my job. It may not be a 9 to 5 with benefits, holidays, and weekends off, but it’s an endeavor that I’m dedicated to.
But like with any job, there are going to be days when you really don’t want to work. If you had a writing boss, they’d probably say “too bad” and tell you get back to work. Unfortunately, since most of us don’t have an outside person to tell us to sit down and write, we have to boss our own selves around. So if hitting a writing goal is something you’re serious about, you have to tell yourself to sit down and get it done. That’s all there is to it.
“I’m not inspired though!” you may say. Trust me, I’ve said it a million times. As nice as inspiration is, it doesn’t actually write your WIP. Does it help you plot, plan, and outline? Sure. But it’s your dedication to those ideas you come up with that help get the words down on the page.
Waiting for inspiration to strike means you might be waiting forever. There are days when writing feels like an absolute chore and I have no idea what I’m doing. Those are the days where I’m lucky to get a hundred words under my belt. But it’s still something; it’s still an addition to my WIP, and I’m still moving forward. Maybe those are words I end up keeping in my manuscript, or maybe they show me what I don’t want. Either way, I’m working and learning.
No one really wants to hear this, but you just have to write.
Motivation makes it easier, but you’re perfectly capable of writing without it.
Consistency is Key
Have you ever stopped doing something for a while and found that getting back into it was difficult? The same goes for writing.
If I take more than a few days off, I feel like I’m starting all over again. I have to find my rhythm and hope I can pick up where I left off without everything sounding stilted. That’s why, if I can help it, I try not to take a break of more than three days. That said, I still did, but boy, coming back after that and trying to write was super difficult. But if you’re writing every day (or nearly every day) this becomes less of a problem.
Even if I have a super busy schedule, I try to block out at least an hour a day to write. I’m very lucky (in some aspects) to be self-employed because I can make my own work schedule, so, for me, finding the time isn’t too much of an issue. Still, I’m able to focus better in the mornings or at night when things are quieter and there’s less going on.
Find a time that works best for you. Maybe that’s at night once you’ve put your kids to bed. Or maybe it’s in the morning before you have to leave for work. Or maybe it’s between classes at school. Plus, you don’t have to do all of your writing at the same time. Spread it throughout the day if that works better for you. Just get some words down when you can, you’ll be happy you did.
But Don’t Forget That You Deserve a Break
Most jobs give you time off and writing should be no different. For me, I have to be careful not to give myself too much time off.
But life gets in the way sometimes. For a lot of us, writing isn’t our full-time job. We have other obligations and responsibilities that come first. That said, if you’re serious about writing and trying to hit a particular goal (like finishing a manuscript in a certain amount of time) you do need to treat it as something important as well.
So take that break if you need it. Give yourself time to brainstorm. Go on adventures. Go run those errands you’ve been putting off. Go gather inspiration for future scenes and plots and stories from the world around you. But come back, sit down, and put them on the page.
So, Should You Try It?
Hey, why not?
If you’re serious about getting a project done, I seriously suggest picking a month and trying to write “every day”. Maybe writing “every day” for you means writing six days out of the week. Maybe it means writing every day for two weeks straight, then taking three days off. To me, as long as you’re writing 80-90% of the month, you’re writing every day. If you can manage more than that, more power to ya, my friend!
I also suggest it if you’re just looking to make writing a daily habit for yourself. Maybe you take that time to journal or write a couple poems—or even a whole short story! Maybe you jump from novel to novel, writing a couple hundred words here and there. Or maybe you outline a new project. The choices are pretty much endless! All that matters is that you’re getting those words and ideas down.
For me, trying to write every day has really improved my relationship with writing. It forces me to prioritize it. It makes completing WIPs a heck of a lot easier. And it definitely helps me manage my time better because I know that there’s one thing I need to do every single day.
So pick a month and give it a try. Whether it works for you or not, you’ll be proud that you gave it a shot.
Do you try to write every day? How do you personally make time for it? How many words per day do you try to write (if that’s a metric you keep track of)?