Sunday, April 24, 2011

Writing Every Day

Writers need to write every day. I know this, as does everyone else who would dares to call themselves writers.

So what’s going on here? Why do I find it so difficult to get started?

This isn’t good. My goals are set; I’ve got an ocean of books I want to write. If I don’t take that first step, none of this will happen. Might as well kiss these dreams goodbye.

All of this is falling apart just because I didn’t bother to push myself each day. Not even a little. No progress = no dreams. As simple as it gets.

First off, is it wrong to assume that a writer needs to write every day? Obviously this is ideal, and in some cases not entirely feasible, but I believe the latter happens less often than we care to admit.

I believe a writer needs to write at least once a day, multiple times if the opportunity presents itself. If you set your goals low, so will be your yield, and if you’re only writing a few times a week, it’s easy to disconnect from your work in lieu of more exciting ventures (social media, anyone?).

It is my belief that writing every day is about professionalism. You say you’re a writer? Ok, prove it. Show up to work every day, even if you don’t want to. Give your all. Show something in exchange for your time. And most importantly, move forward, if only an inch.

Like any athlete, a writer needs their reps. There is a physiological connection between mental and physical work; the more frequently you do it, the more you can handle, and the easier it is to complete tasks. Also, the mental effort expended while writing is unbelievable. Without proper nutrition, you can find yourself fading fast even if your body doesn’t need rest.

In some ways, writing 1,000 words is like running a mile. After a long layoff, I’m not good at first. 1,000 words feels like 10,000, and I tire quickly. But after a week, it’s easy to keep going until I reach my 1,000-word goal. Without a doubt, all of us need to write every day, at very least, to get our mental workout.

The biggest hurdle I’m trying to clear these days is balancing social interaction with productivity. It’s easy to blow off a writing assignment to talk to fellow writers on Facebook and Twitter. After all, you are networking, and will need their help if you get stuck or launch a book. You can’t simply abandon your friends, but you do need to set hours.

I’ve also tried rewarding myself with an hour on Facebook after completing my tasks. Thus far, it hasn’t worked out, but I am getting better.

I believe the issue here is more about addiction than focus. It’s easy to get addicted to positive reinforcement. After awhile, you get in a pattern of foregoing the work just to get the affirmation, and nothing gets done.

So how does one break out of this?

I’m still struggling with this myself.

First of all, start your day off with writing rather than socializing. Disconnect yourself from the network. Do not give yourself any Internet access until you absolutely need it. When I first started writing 5 years ago I did this, but slowly gravitated away from it.

Well, not anymore.

Disconnecting yourself from the Internet is one of the best ways to improve your productivity, and rediscover your love of writing. It would be ideal for you to have a desk just for writing without any Internet access and another on the other end of the room (or house) with all the connectivity you need. That way you’re not even tempted to browse the Internet. You go there to do a job and you do it, no needless obstacles thrown in your way.

In fact, I’m going to unplug right now. Join me in disconnecting from the Internet for a few hours each day. It’s time to reclaim our productivity, and become the writers we always wanted to be.


  1. Agreed. If I am going to make my 7000 word challenge set by Christine I will have to, though that is a shame since I was writing that in a day easy back in February. I like the running metaphor.

  2. You read my mind Scott. I tried this experiment this past week, though I thought I was going to die from internet withdrawals, it was super productive for me. I went from struggling to get out 500 words a night to averaging 1200 words a night. Social media is a double edged sword for writers like us. We have been blessed with a wonderful group of like minded friends. Unfortunately for us we get sucked into conversations and pass up valuable writing time. I'm with you on reclaiming our productivity. I'm setting my 'catch up' time on line for Sunday afternoons and you have permission to yell at me if you catch me chatting during the week lol. Much luck in keeping to your goals! PS...I'm missing Terrance something terrible ;)

  3. So Scott are you going to join us in the 7000 word challenge? Friday is the deadline the prize is self satisfaction that you stuck to it and are 7000 word closer to finishing that WIP!!! We will miss each others constant chatter, but most of us only have 1/4 of our books left to write...time to get it done!!!!

  4. You know this is actually what my therapist and I are working on right now. It's a little hard for me right now with the start of 4 Corners, but I try to tell myself they have my cell phone and can text. I'm trying long hand on the short story I'm working in. I'll let you know how it works out....

  5. It is, for writers, the best way to emulate the human spirit to strive for the ideal writing conditions. It's just like everything else: anything worth having is worth working hard for. You're right: you get nothing if you don't do it.

  6. OH that social media! And that darned marketing - so necessary to do , but such a time suck.....

  7. Yes, a necessary evil, but one that frees us up to do whatever we want to do. Truly liberating! :D