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Do I Have To Write Every Day?

February 5th, 2013 Matt Leave a comment Go to comments
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Behold, another writing maxim; a do-or-die rule that everyone agrees on! Or do they? We’ve tackled such rules before, but are we about to blow “Write Every Day” out the water?

My opinion

Let me make one thing clear – I am absolutely sold on writing every day. I think this game is hard enough, you want to take every opportunity to give yourself the edge. And by that I’m not talking about competition with other writers, I’m just talking about the fight for improvement (and through that, for publication, popularity, etc.).

Writing is training, always. It’s perfecting our craft. So you want to be training as much as you can, right?


I have written before about the virtues of keeping a routine, and of the difficulties of stepping out of it. These same difficulties present themselves every Monday for me, because at the moment I don’t write on Sundays (more on that later).

Writing on Monday takes that little bit more energy (as does getting up in the morning) – I’ve just had a wonderful weekend (every weekend is wonderful after having my little boy), and the minute I wake up on Monday morning I’m faced with a day full of “work”, from 5:30 through to 7:00 in the evening.

Okay, including my morning run, blog writing, my paying job and fiction writing under the umbrella of “work” might be an exaggeration. I feel differently about each of them on different days. But you get the point. Starting again is hard, so why not just keep going?

…As I say, not as I do

But having said all that, I don’t write every day, hypocritical fool that I am.

There is the occasional train kerfuffle, or something else that desperately requires my attention sometimes. These unplanned non-writing days are unavoidable I guess, and I don’t beat myself up over them. It’s life, and occasionally brown smelly stuff happens.

There are also the avoidable non-planned non-writing days because of excuses and being human. I do beat myself up about those. Stupid human.

As for my “planned” non-writing day, that’s Sunday. Planned is in quotation marks because it’s not so much that I made a conscious decision not to write on that day, more that it is less convenient to do so.

All my writing is done away from the family. Weekdays I am on the train, commuting. I also get up at 5:30 six days of the week, and work on something while they’re still in bed. Sunday, I lay in as a bit of a catch up and get up when my boy does (at 8, or 7, or 5:30 again on occasion. Mostly, mercifully, he is a very good sleeper).

So you see Sunday would take some organising, and then some willpower to carve out some writing time. I’m thinking about the possibility of maybe addressing that sometime perhaps.

Love this image! Courtesy of Drew Coffman on Flickr

What do others think?

Anyway, what was the question again? Ah, yes.

So, do we believe every published author writes every day? I don’t. I don’t even think every successful author writes every day. No, it’s just good advice, especially for those starting out and wanting to form the habit. But it’s not essential.

Stephen King often gets trotted out at this point, as in his famous book On Writing (which is a great read and highly recommended, even though it’s a little insistent that his way is the only way) he states he makes sure to get 1,000 words done every day, and never has a day off, even for birthdays and Christmas.

But as with many of these “unbreakable” writing rules, for every author who recommends it, another recommends ignoring it. It is a case, as ever, of considering the popular advice (it’s popular for a reason, right?) but ultimately forging your own path. What works for one writer might turn another off the whole process altogether.

With that in mind, wend your way through the links below for more advice on the “write every day” rule. There’s a range of opinions in there, and you might find one you agree with. If anything below strikes a chord, be sure to leave a comment on the site and let the writer know.

  • Study Hacks: “Write Every Day” is Bad Advice: Hacking the Psychology of Big Projects
  • Nathan Bransford: It’s Not Necessary to Write Every Day
  • Jeff Goins, Writer: Why You Need to Write Every Day
  • DailyWritingTips: How To Write Every Day (and why you should)

In the end, the only true way to know if it works for you is to give it a try. Next week I’ll be listing a series of tips to help you write every day. Until then…

Over to you:
What has been your experience of writing every day? Do you love it, and think it’s the only way you could write? Or have you tried it and bounced off it, like the rubberiest of balls? I’d love to hear your thoughts – start the discussion below…

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  • Craig

    Well, far be it from me to drag out and dust of my ‘writing as exercise’ metaphor again, but in this situation I think its rather apropos.

    See, be cause you wouldn’t exercise every day, would you? Oh, you would? Well get you! But the point is, it is ill advised to do the same kind of exercise day after day. You wouldn’t go and wail on your pecs every day, because thats detrimental. So the same can sort of be applied to writing.

    In the past (when I had the drive and the stamina and I wasn’t a lazy git) I would write every day, to certain targets. You hit or surpass those targets, you give yourself a day off. Nowadays, cant do that, because I’m old and worthless. However, you can do different writing ‘routines’ day after day. So while you may spend two three days a week actually writing, you take another day to, say, plan, or have a couple of editing sessions each week. That way, you’re mixing things up, so it doesn’t become tedious, and you can always feel fresh, which obviously increases productivity.

    This is all theoretical, of course.

    • http://getmewriting.com Matt Roberts

      Why don’t you give it a try? You can tell us how it goes :-D