One of the most vexed questions in writing is “should you write every day?”
The answer is yes, no, maybe…
I distrust anything definitive in the discussion of writing. So, instead let me to offer some observations from experience.
Because I hate being stuck between the hard-core daily word smashers and the lotus eaters of “when inspiration strikes.”
Writing is much more than a simple bang-bang controller that’s either on or off.
Life gets in the way, but nature finds a way
Kids. Parents. A burst water main. There is an infinity of possible distractions that will suck your writing time away, no matter how early you get up or how late you go to bed.
This is not even to mention the acts of self-sabotage that we can do, from my own personal vice of YouTube to just simply not being arsed.
Whatever way we are denied writing time, it sucks, and it hurts.
But when this happens, I try to say “good” and forgive myself.
Because the tension that builds up in me to have a writing session eventually becomes irresistible, and the moment the clouds part I’m back, whether I have to part them myself or wait for a break in the weather.
No better cure for writers’ guilt or writers’ life hassle than 800 words of prose.
Write every day for compound interest
When you write every day something very cool happens – you can get very, very good.
Words flow, chapters sing, the power of your prose magnifies and electrifies. You start dreaming in sentences. The story makes its own connections and come to incredible life.
That’s why writing every day is so good. But this can also be a trap.
During periods of strict daily writing, I’ve written chapters of the most luminous prose that, on reading back, meant absolutely nothing.
Like the time my friends and I took LSD and recorded our conversations convinced that in the moment we were geniuses, but in the sour reflection of morning found it was blather.
Writing every day is valuable when you know what you are writing about, and what you mean to say.
Yes, you can write until that meaning emerges, and I often do. But I think writing every day is not the perfection it’s made out to be.
The journey is not linear
I don’t always write every day.
But I always engage with my art every day.
Whether that’s a sketch, a note, ten pages of writing, or just sitting with the story and thinking about it, even if five minutes is all I have, that’s enough.
As long as some form of forward progress is made, I am happy.
I’ve written on a night bus, by my daughter’s hospital bed, and by the light of a crescent moon in a field. I know how to put in the work no matter what, so I’m not bothered if I miss a day of typing words, or write less than the day before.
Insight comes from procrastination. Motivation from missing out. Momentum from setting aside a period of time where you go all in, and grace from a period when you stick the story in a drawer to percolate.
I’m grateful for it all. For the chance to work on this delightful riddle, and never know the final answer.
I’m not in a hurry.
Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.