Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wednesday List: Three Reasons NOT to Write Every Day

Seems like a funny title for a blog post on the Write Every Day blog, eh?

Well, first of all I've read a couple of really good posts recently about not writing every day, one of which I can share now (The Binge-Pantser of Doom from Anaea Lay's blog) and one of which you'll be able to read when it's published in several days. And secondly, I feel that it's important to make my own feelings about this clear, particularly given the name of the blog.

I've seen quite a few writers express a fear that they won't be taken seriously because they don't write every day. There's a sense that some writers look down on non-daily writers. All I can say to this is that anyone who looks down on another writer who is making progress towards their own personal goals is being presumptuous. They're imposing their idea of what that other writer should want to do and be ahead on that other writer. It would be just as silly as someone coming to me and saying "Why are you wasting your time on short stories? Don't you know 'real writers' write novels?"

That said, I think there are plenty of good reasons for writers to work on their craft every day. Speaking purely for myself, I'm confident that I've gotten a lot further in the last almost-year by having a daily writing routine than I would have otherwise.

But there are also good reasons for writers to NOT write every day. So, this week's Wednesday List is of Three Reasons Not to Write Every Day:
  1. It doesn't fit your schedule. Maybe you work some unusual work schedule where you put in 15-hour days three days a week and only have energy to work, eat, and sleep those three days. Maybe one day a week you work all day and have class all evening or help out a neighbor in the evening by watching their child while they go to class. Whatever it is, there are one or more days each week where there simply plain isn't time to write. That is an excellent reason not to write every day. If you were trying to develop a regular writing routine, you might want to set some sort of weekly goal, but clearly writing every day would not be good for a person in this situation.
  2. It doesn't mesh well with what you are trying to accomplish. Maybe you're a non-fiction writer and you spend weeks doing research before sitting down to write. Or you could be working on a piece of fiction but prefer to do a lot of plot-outlining, character-defining, etc. before you start actually writing prose. To my mind, that certainly could be work that went into a daily writing routine (at least as far as the framework I described in Write Every Day) but some people would feel like they couldn't call that "writing." Similarly, maybe you're fortunate enough to have a high-profile book release and you're doing a lot of promotional work with your publisher. At that moment, there may be very good reasons to spend your time on that work rather than on "writing."
  3. You've tried it and it didn't work for you. Pretty much self-explanatory. You gave it a go, you really did. And you hated it. You've found another way to work -- whatever it is -- that gets you towards your writing goals at a pace which makes you happy. You're making good progress, you're happy -- why mess with a good thing?
There could certainly be plenty of other good reasons -- these are not "the only three reasons..." they are just "three of the reasons...".

The thing I always come back to is: Are you making good progress towards your writing goals? If so, then what you're doing is working for you. You can always try different ways of working to see if they help you make better progress, if you want, but there's no urgency to make a change.

Every writer writes differently. The key for each is to find, as best as they can, their optimal way of working.

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