The benefits of writing every day

1281977_flip_calendar_1A few days ago, I wrote a post called “Why writing every day is like buying a lottery ticket.” I really enjoyed putting that one together, and now it has me thinking about the many real benefits of writing every day. That’s a mandate I’ve seen in many a writer’s handbook, from Stephen King to Anne Lamott. I do write every day, if only for twenty minutes or half an hour (with the exception of maybe three or four days a year). I push myself to do that because I’ve seen it, in my case, get results.

That said, I definitely understand that not everyone’s life can accommodate a set and scheduled writing session each day. And if that’s the case for you, or you simply find success working with a different kind of procedure, then that’s totally okay and nothing to feel bad about. It’s not as though you can’t write successfully with a one good weekly session, or cramming in as much as you can on the weekends. I write daily because that’s the process that works for me. And if that’s something you aspire you but have trouble doing, maybe this will provide some motivation!

  • Writing every day keeps me focused. I’ve found that it keeps me thinking about my WIP and gives me a sense of urgency to figure out where the characters will go next. I write as a “pantser” for the most part, with no outlines, and if I know I’ll have to start a new scene the next day, then I don’t procrastinate planning what needs to happen in that scene. Even if I only get two paragraphs down the next morning, it keeps my forward progress going and prevents me starting down the slippery slope of telling myself, “I’ll get to that later,” with “later” becoming weeks or months.
  • I don’t lose track of the pacing and the subtleties of my story. That’s not to say my drafts don’t end up with some pacing issues. They almost always do. What I mean is, the few times I have left off a project for an extended period, I had to go and reread all fifty or one hundred pages I had written before (making myself edit as I went) before I could pick up the story again. That happened to me with both my first two published novels. Looking back, I wasted a lot of time getting back into the groove of what my novel was about.
  • I really get to know my characters. Writing without outlines, I kind of get to know my characters as I go along. It’s like building a friendship with an acquaintance. I have to spend time to with them to figure out what makes them tick.
  • I know I can call myself a writer. Which boosts my confidence when it’s dipping. If I slog away every day, then I feel secure telling people, “I’m a writer.” “I’m an author.” Because I write. After all, that’s the only qualification to be a writer 🙂 That’s not to say, of course, that you aren’t a writer if you don’t write every day!!! Just that I’m neurotic enough that I need that extra cushion to support my self-esteem. So I make sure I have it.
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17 responses to “The benefits of writing every day

  1. I write every day when I am in “novel” or even “short story” mode. I’m very much an outliner when it comes to novel writing, but the benefits I’ve seen mirror yours. With gaps in writing, I end up with gaps in the “mood” of a scene, that causes me to backtrack, edit, and recover the voice I had been using. One thing I think new writers fail to acknowledge is that we constantly grow as people. Who I am this week isn’t the same as who I’ll be the next. So, with too much space, I find myself re-reading, and thinking “I wouldn’t say this like that.” Best to get it all out at once, find your groove, and let it flow.

    • Wow, Bill…. that’s really insightful. I wouldn’t have considered the effect of a writer having grown and changed as a person after a break of, but you’re absolutely right! thanks for sharing. I’ve seen exactly the effect you describe in my writing, even if I hadn’t attributed it to that cause.

  2. I have an aversion to outlines, so I understand the panster elements that you describe. Being such a newbie, I try to take it all in, but since I haven’t actually started writing yet, I haven’t gotten to the write everyday part. I think it sounds right though. The reason I haven’t written yet is not writer’s block or intimidation but because I thought I should try to do an outline. But..I can’t do an outline, because I’m not sure about who my antagonist is going to be, and I don’t have the entire plot yet in my head. I’ve tried, but I don’t see it. I think I am going to have to develop it as I write. Does that make sense? As far as calling yourself a writer, I had someone tell me once to not call myself “aspiring” because that showed a lack of action. If you write, you ARE a writer, not an aspiring writer. I went a bit further and maybe I am being too presumptuous here, but on my Facebook page, I say author instead of writer. Someone else mentioned that you weren’t an author until you had already been published. I wanted to make sure that it was understood that I am going to be writing novels, not articles or piecemeal stuff..not because there is anything wrong with that of course, but I am going to be a novelist. Ok, so it is an ego thing. But by calling myself an author, I had to BE one..so I couldn’t procrastinate and be a liar. In other words, no going back now! 🙂

    • no going back indeed!!! It makes total sense to start writing before you know what’s going to happen, Rebecca. It’s all about the process of discovery. You discovered an outline isn’t going to work for you. Nothing wrong with that! I’d jump right in. As you get going and get better acquainted with your characters, you’ll figure out who your antagonist is and how your characters would respond to one another.

  3. Thanks, I appreciate that. I think you are the first person to tell me that. Everyone else says to do an outline.. 🙂

  4. I really need to get back to writing most days of the week, instead of once or twice. I was making so much progress! Currently need to spend most of my time figuring out the details of how to epublish my book of poetry. Strangely feeling a sense of dread over it. Nothing for it but to press on. 🙂

    • definitely!!! go for it!!! if you’re wondering about how to self-publish, world literary cafe has a great doc called the “author’s toolbox” with people who put ebooks together and do all kind of other services. it’s at worldliterarycafe.com under the author section. good luck!!!

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  6. I like to write every day and I feel horrible when I don’t.

  7. I struggle with this all the time. Good post for inspiration.

  8. It’s hard to do!!! I’m glad the post was inspiring for you. 🙂 Best of luck!!!

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