If you were to seek advice online about writing a novel, almost every source will tell you to write every day. At first it would seem like sound advice, seeing how so many people suggest it. However, the reasons for writing every day vary. Although I agree it is great practice, you need to understand why it helps you individually. One reason a writer may write every day will be different from the other. It can be discouraging when you fail to stay in the habit of writing daily, especially when you hear some elitist garbage like:
‘A writer must writer daily because it is how we express ourselves. We write because we have too. We write because people need us too.’
Yes I have heard people say this. Stay away from this line of thinking. Writers are nothing special, especially if they think they are! Here are four practical reasons why I write ever day. They may apply to you, they may not, but they have helped me a great deal.
Organization: It helps me remember where I left off. As your story develops your list of details will grow to an almost unmanageable load. If you make daily visits to your imaginary world, even if it is for just five minutes, it will save you hours of time in the long run. It took me nearly two years to write The King’s Elite. There are several reasons why it took so long, but one of the biggest time killers was having to read back several pages just to remember where I left off. If I had two hours to write, at least 30 minutes of it was spent reading and remembering the direction I was heading. Had I been writing daily during the King’s Elite, my prep time would have dropped drastically.
Rhythm: The writing process is different from author to author. Honestly, I didn’t find my rhythm until I had finished my first draft on the King’s Elite. Writing every day would have helped me learn earlier on about what I needed in order to do my best work. This is embarrassing, but it would take me about 45 minutes of sitting at my computer fiddling around until I was mentally prepared to write (I agree it sounds like medication would help more than a writing habit). When I started writing The Arbiter’s Onus I became a stickler on writing every day. The biggest area of improvement I found was my start up time. I had found my writing rhythm. I knew what type of atmosphere and setting I needed to maintain and I built a schedule in my day to accommodate my goal.
Excitement: It is very rewarding to see speedy progress when writing a book. I figured that the Arbiter’s Onus was going to be around 90,000 words. This is not a gigantic book, but it still makes for a decent size, about a 350 pages on Microsoft word. When writing every day I was pumping out about 30 pages a week. Some writers would scoff at this, but I thought it was exhilarating. It doesn’t matter how quick you are or how much you write. The purpose here is to stay exited about what you are doing. Writing every day can help this.
Practice: Practice makes perfect right? The only way you are going to get better at writing is to write often. To write anything that others will want to read you need to practice your craft. I found writing everyday keeps my mind agile and sharp, (at least as sharp as it’s going to get). This may sound odd, but it also helps to build up endurance for this left brained, prolonged activity. I could always tell when I had been out of the practice of writing everyday. I was easily distracted and tired quickly.
There you have it. Nothing mystical. No secret steps. Just write everyday and you will be surprised at what you will be able to accomplish. Sounds cheesy… but it is true. Don’t worry about how long you should write either. Set a goal and work until it is accomplished. When I was working on the Arbiter’s Onus I wanted to write at least 4 pages a day. That averaged to about 30 pages a week. After 15 weeks, I was done with my book. Sure there were some days were life happened and I could only get 1 page in, or nothing at all. Don’t beat yourself up if you missed a day, just do your best to stick with your goals. Most importantly, have fun with the process.