"You Should Be Writing Every Day" and Other Things People Tell You About Writing and Discipline

7:00 AM


But should you really be writing every? single? day? ?????


Writing advice. Everyone has some, and anyone who's written two or three paragraphs in the same document has the secret to being the world's top writer. You don't have to look far to find it; just turn to the ten billion articles or the gaping void full of Pinterest pins and you've got enough material to be searching through advice for the rest of your life. A lot of it contradicts other pieces of advice. A lot of it seems questionable, and a lot of it is. Writing isn't a set thing with hard and fast instructions, and as a result, it's hard to know if the advice you're getting is good advice or bad advice or if there is no writing advice whatsoever out there and you should just go with your advice. (Which, ironically, is advice some people will give you.)

"You should write every day," lots of people seem to say, no matter where you end up looking for advice. Sooner or later, you'll come across this piece of wisdom.
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"DO NOT QUESTION THIS FOOLPROOF ADVICE, AMATEUR"
So: Should you actually write every day, or is that some kind of superior thinking by people who have too much time on their hands and no actual other jobs or responsibilities to worry about? Truthfully, I'm not 100% certain, so I'm going to unpack that a lil and then we can talk about it or not or really, whatever you want to do. You're the boss here. sort of. you're not really the one running this show. so there.

Usually, people who say you should write every day are using it as an argument for discipline. Sit yo butt in the chair, write the words, EVEN IF YOU DON'T FEEL LIKE IT, DANGIT! Essentially what they're saying is that it's valuable if you're serious about writing to make a point out of doing it daily, even when you don't feel like it, even when you have to squeeze it in between a thousand other things. It's a matter of training your brain. Inspiration and waiting around for your ever-missing "muse" is a bad idea, they'll say. A really bad and stupid idea, and one that you can't afford to entertain if you're serious about this writing thing. So it's important to establish routine and make sure you're putting something down on the page every, single, day. 

On the other hand: there are people who will argue against this. Forcing yourself when you don't feel like it and it's miserable is a bad thing, they'll tell you. Some of us can't afford to write every day! Your mental health is more important than writing every day. Not writing every day doesn't make you any less of a writer. 

I could go on and on. "please don't," you say.

"So where do you stand on this most important of issues, Aimee? Do you think we should write every day?"

Well. 
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always applicable.
As writing goes, I tend to be more on the discipline-is-important side of things. Maybe that's just me, or the fact that I have a hard time being emotionally-driven or touchy-feely, but I've always felt that the cold hard truth of it is that writing takes work, and we can't always afford to wait around for inspiration or the desire to actually do the words thing. If we're serious about it, I think, we just have to sit down and make it happen anyway. That's what a job entails. I think writing even when you're not particularly inspired is valuable, and let's be real here, you're going to have to do it sooner or later if you have any kind of deadline. (Plus, having discipline in general is just a good thing.) But... 

I don't write every day. 

I wish I did, and that would be great. But I don't. 

As much as it's valuable to make time for writing, and you have to be able to do it even when you don't feel like it...let's be real here. Sometimes, it just doesn't happen. Sometimes mental health is a genuine thing that gets in the way (and yes, that comes before any kind of writing 95% of the time.) Sometimes you have a busy day. Sometimes you're desperately sick and you don't need to push yourself. Sometimes family and friends happen and that's valuable, too. I don't think missing a day makes you some kind of writing failure. I don't think having days where you choose not to write in favor of something more important makes you any less of a dedicated writer. 

I don't think the "you need to write every day" rule is as much of a literal rule as it is a principle, an idea, a point to be made about how we have to be dedicated to this words thing. None of us are perfect or stupid enough to write every single day, after all. You just can't do that. Unless you're insane. Then I guess you can do that, but I will not join you, and I hope you're okay, fren, because your poor wrists aren't. 

This is turning into a ramble. Look how much I care. 

We have to take writing seriously. We cannot always get the perfect writing environment, or have all the time we need to get into the mood of it. Sometimes we'll write in uncomfortable places. Sometimes we have to suck it up and just do the words even if we really don't want to. Sometimes that's just the truth of it. Writing can't always be nice and wanted and pleasant. So, yes. When I write every day it's easier for me to stay in the habit of it; in a way I'm keeping my writing muscles in practice and keeping it on my mind. Writing often, and making a point out of writing on a very regular basis, seems to be an invaluable thing even if it doesn't feel that way at the moment, even if it feels like stabbing yourself in the fingers with a toothpick. 
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#relatable
At the same time... We have to give ourselves grace. We have to recognize when to take off days. When to let that be okay, and when we genuinely need it as opposed to when we're slacking off. (Writers are notorious for our slacking-off. It's a problem.) I don't know how to do this yet. That's just what I think, so look at me being a hypocrite. 

The point? I don't know.

Writing advice has value. If it's repeated by lots of writerly people, there's usually some truth to it. But it is not hard and fast, and it is not the absolute rule.

Do the thing that works for you. If you just can't write every day, perhaps don't. But if you need to challenge yourself, push yourself, make yourself level up and get some dedication and do the thing without waiting for inspiration...that's pretty great, too. No writer writes like you and knows your style. Your job is to figure out how to make these "guidlines" or whatever you might call them work for you.

Aimee out. 

Do you write every day? Do you think writers should make a point out of writing every day? How do you feel about common writing advice? talk to meeee.

9 comments

  1. I don't write everyday. It started since I was preparing for school exams when I was 15. Those times almost killed my writing spirit, gosh darn it. and when I started to get bullied at school, my writing spirit was killed more and more.

    Now, I'm glad I have escaped that nonsense. But it'll take a while for me to revive.

    So writing everyday? Nope.

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  2. I really enjoyed reading this! I don't often consider myself a "writer", but the more I blog, the more I realize that the craft of writing is something I want to hone and that blogging is my practice. "Writing can't always be nice and wanted and pleasant." - that totally speaks to how I feel a lot of the time. I want this nice quiet coffee house space where I go to reflect - but the reality is most of my blogging is done while my kid throws cheerios on the ground lol thanks for the advice and encouragement!

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  3. I wish I could, but other things take priority and I think it's important to have a life outside of the ones I like to create.

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  4. I have to agree with you on this. In doing NaNo this month, I've realized how much better I do when I'm writing every single day. I make more progress, I feel like I'm finally figuring out the details of my plot..it's just going so much better than it was when I wasn't writing as consistently.

    That to say, I know that I can't write every single day. Life happens. It's just impossible, and we can't beat ourselves up over it.

    Basically I just loved this post so much.

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  5. OKAY SO I'M PRETTY SURE WE ARE TWINS BECAUSE I JUST POSTED SOMETHING ABOUT WRITING ADVICE TOO OMG. *HIGH FIVES YOU* This post was spot onnnnnnn. *nods violently* I FEEL THIS SO MUCH. Especially the part about choosing to take days off?? I HAVE A REALLY HARD TIME WITH THAT. Because I'm a bit of a workhorse and so whenever I take a day off from anything I feel lazy. :P IT'S BAD I KNOW. I completely agree with you on writing advice — there can be some truth in it, but it's impossible to follow everyone's advice and we should do what works best for us! <3

    THIS IS RIGHT ON I LOVE IT. :''')

    >><<
    abbiee

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  6. I don't write everyday (but I'm hardly a good example of healthy habits and good time management). I'd say it probably varies from person to person depending on their goals, personality, schedule etc. I don't think it's possible to definitively say "everyone should write every day" or "everyone should wait for inspiration", you know?

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  7. Nice post. *fist bumps you* I really like that you explored this topic and said that writing advice is not the absolute rule.

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  8. I definitely don't write daily anymore. I used to a few years ago when I never left the house at all - but it was so easy then. These days I have a million things grabbing for my attention and I can't get to them all. Sadly. It's usually writing that takes the fall.
    I've been feeling fairly guilty about this, which I think isn't a bad thing at all, but it's super nice to hear from you and from others and their struggles and to know I'm not alone.
    I definitely need a good kick in the pants to return to some sort of regular writing schedule though. Sigh. :P

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  9. You have a way of taking a logical stance on general writing issues and somehow stating them precisely and to the point in a way that just makes sense.
    As to the "Write Every Day" advice, I agree with you. You couldn't have said it better! Discipline is important, but it shouldn't get in the way of health and common sense.
    Thanks for writing!

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hey. hey. talk to me. i'm a fan of comments and flailing with you. go for it.