Stephen King (On Writing) and Julia Cameron (The Artist’s Way) believe strongly in writing daily. A few others, however, argue that writing daily isn’t necessary. So what’s a new or struggling writer to decide is the best for them?
My take on writing daily is this: DO IT EVERY DAY. Until you find a voice, until you
know your direction, until you are a hard-core writer and not a hobbyist, until you rise in the morning and feel that urge to get to the computer and write, you can’t fall back on rote habit. You’re seeking. You’re learning. You’re hoping to find footing. It doesn’t matter that you’ve been writing off and on since you were nine. (By the way, don’t tell people you’ve been writing since you were a child – pure novice-speak).
Unfortunately when you stop writing for a period, or skip weeks between poems or chapters, you lose ground. You backslide. It’s like building a house for a week then letting the weather erode it for a couple months, then you go back to it and have to spend several days fixing what’s deteriorated due to neglect.
And thinking about writing doesn’t work. It doesn’t count. While it feels good, and you might consider new ideas to write about, it’s not writing. Nothing is a substitute for putting words down for a conclusion.
Now there may come a day when you have so much on your plate, that you feel discombobulated. Too many deadlines, too confused where to take a scene, uncertain whether a character is needed. At that point, take a day off. Maybe even a weekend – but only after you’ve been writing so steadily that you are honed to scribble each day.
My light day is Saturday after a busy Friday putting out newsletters, when I’m most likely to have family drop in. There have been times when I’ve been at conferences and missed three days, but I’m itching to get back to business by the end of those three days. Rabid, actually.
You’ll build your writing in layers. Your talent doesn’t embed itself into your brain unless it’s repeated on a steady basis. If you put weeks and months between your chapters, be prepared to have to do a lot of starting over. Like going to college, taking Spanish 1 this year, and Spanish 2 three years from now – a lot is going to be lost in the interim.
Yes, you might have been writing for years. But how many years would it really be if you tallied only those days you actually wrote?
Write daily. You’ll be flabbergasted at your rate of improvement.