Master the art of writing as a practice
To write every day, or not—that seems to be the question most "writers" ask.
The answer to one of the most asked questions in the business has a complicated and ambiguous answer: maybe.
Why maybe? It depends on what kind of writer you want to be! Let me explain.
Are you a hobbyist, or what I like to call a "casual writer"? Do you enjoy writing now and then, when inspiration strikes, or you have a few hours to spare? You're not going to sell all of your worldly possessions and run off to study the craft in Paris, right?
Then, you probably don't need to write every day (but, you still should). As a casual writer, you have limited ambitions and will likely be super-stoked to see your work on Amazon or any other numerous self-publishing website. And that's totally fine if that's your jam! #YouDoYou
However, if you have your goals set a little higher—literary agents, 25k+ followers on social media, major prize considerations, reputable best-seller lists—then, YES, you should absolutely write daily. The craft of writing should be treated as a full-time job; after all, the endgame is to make a living off your work, yes? If you want to be a working, professional writer, then you need to act like you before you make one single penny off as a wordsmith.
There's an adage that goes something like if you want to create a new habit, repeat the same routine for twenty-one days. Experts more or less agree that's about how long it takes to rewire a new habit into our brains.
Three weeks. That's not a lot of time. All you have to do is commit to showing up and being ready to work for three consecutive weeks. Whether you sit down to write at the same time every day or not, the point is to just sit down to write. The more you do something, the easier it gets and the better you get at it.
Think of writing as a physical exercise, like yoga or Crossfit. You don't just walk into a gym able to benchpress your bodyweight or expect to get into warrior pose right out the gate unless you've fallen on your ass a few dozen times, maybe more (in my case, it was more).
Physical exercise almost always also involves a warmup. This is to prepare your body for the work ahead. Writing daily reduces the brain's warmup time. It will take you less time to remove distractions, like Facebook and emails, if you set a writing practice.
At first, it won't be easy. You may write two words in a hour and like five-hundred cat pics on Insta. That's still TWO words. Tomorrow, make it four or five. The day after that, ten. And so on. It will get easier. Your body and mind will adjust to your practice. When you sit down to write, every part of your instrument will be saying time to work not it's time to surf the web.
No one is saying you have to have a lofty page or word count goal. Don't set yourself up for failure. Keep it simple at the start: just show up and do the work, whatever that looks like for you.
And remember, even if you show up tired, distracted, and "just not feeling it", you've still shown up; and, there is still enormous potential for you to get some quality work done despite how you feel. People often have breakthroughs in acting or voice class, the gym, or even in competition, when they were tempted to just stay home or phone it in.
But, you have to be in it to win it! Show up for your writing.
I know when I write first thing in the morning, my brain doesn't have time to talk me out of anything. It just dives in because I've built a solid practice of showing up and doing the work.
I challenge you to show up for three weeks and see what happens with your writing. And before you say I just don't have the time, I ask you again: are you a pro or a hobbyist? If you want to be a pro, MAKE the time. Get up an hour before work, don't binge the latest "must-see" series in one sitting, skip happy hour, or watch less porn.
There are only so many hours in the day, but track how you spend yours and you might be surprised how much time you spend NOT writing. Remember: the goal is to write. So, go on and write your masterpiece!
Start with thirty-minutes and a one-hundred word goal.
And, it goes without saying but I'll say it nonetheless, try to have fun with your own writing practice! If it feels like a chore, you'll never go pro.
For the record: I take my own advice. I wrote the first and second drafts of my debut novel, Far From Grace, over the course of three months because I showed up every single day, armed with a daily word count. Grace is now being shopped by my literary agent. #DreamsComeTrue #DoTheWork
See you on the other side!