I track my word count daily.
I usually scribble down my progress on my calendar that sits on my desk. And then once a week I will transport those figures into my excel spreadsheet.
This makes it easier to calculate totals per week and over the course of the month.
Yet I still struggle to write daily.
Why is this?
And is it really necessary to write every day?
Before I actually started to write and became a writer (as opposed to dreaming about wanting to be a writer and calling myself an ‘aspiring writer’), I used to devour numerous articles and blog posts on ‘how to be a writer’. And the results were mixed.
Some articles said it was a non-negotiable to write every day if you wanted to be a writer. I mean if Stephen King writes
I mean if Stephen King writes every day then surely you also need to be writing daily?
But then there were others who said you didn’t have to write daily. Indeed, my online mentor Joanna Penn doesn’t write daily, yet has over 20 books to her name and makes a multi-six figure income.
So whose advice to follow?
If you are a new writer then my advice would be to write a little. But write often.
As a new writer, you are going to be struggling with many things. One of which will be fighting back fear and self-doubt which can lead to killing your creativity before you even get started. This can also contribute to prolonged periods of procrastination or writer’s block.
If you are a seasoned writer and have published your work, then chances are you have more confidence in yourself and in your work. And you can also trust yourself to get to the finish line of your book project. Simply because you have already done it before multiple times.
But if you are just starting out, you may be feeling overwhelmed with the plethora of information out there as well as trying to figure out how to write and publish your book. You may even be struggling with finding the time to write your book.
This is why writing daily will set you up for success in the long run. When you are starting out, you need to practice. Practice will make you a better writer. But you also need to publish your work often. Pressing the ‘Publish’ button builds your confidence.
You don’t have to be publishing a new book every month. Practice putting out work regularly such as a short story or a blog post.
By doing this often, you are simply developing the stamina and muscle you need to start, endure and finish a project.
When you write daily, you don’t have to worry about the quality of what you are writing. To start with, just focus on writing often but little.
Small successes like these will build into bigger success over a period of time. No book was ever written in one sitting no matter how brilliant the author was!
Each book is written by putting just one word in front of another word.
If you want to be a writer and especially if you want to be an author-entrepreneur and be making a good living from your writing, then you need to be writing every day.
Spending 6 hours writing on a Sunday is not as effective or valuable as spending 20 mins a day writing.
The idea here is repetition. Writing daily develops a discipline of showing up, committing to the work and finishing the piece of work.
If writing for you is a hobby then you can treat it with little discipline. But if you are serious about making an income from your writing then you need to treat it with the respect it deserves. You need to treat this like a job and put in the hours day in, day out.
Writing daily is about building a habit. And habits are only built through repetition + frequency. And in time the habit becomes a part of your sub-conscious behaviour. Habits practised once a week can’t be called habits. Only something you do almost daily is habit.
When you want to master something, spending huge amounts of hours on the task in one sitting will not lead to habit creation but burnout.
You don’t expect to put on 10 pounds of muscle in a one day-long session at the gym. Instead, we do several short workouts throughout the week.
Our bodies and muscles need time to heal and recover. And this applies to your creativity muscle as well.
When trying out or developing a new skill, it’s not how long you do it, but how often you do it.
Flossing your teeth once a year will have little impact on your dental hygiene compared to flossing daily. Practising the guitar once a year will not make you a good guitar player unless you are practising at least 2-3 times a week.
I recently took up learning Sanskrit. I go to classes once a week where we are currently learning the basic alphabet. I cannot expect to learn by heart the alphabet with just one hour of study per week. Instead, I put in 10 minutes each day to recite the Sanskrit alphabet 2-3 times daily which takes just 10 minutes.
The key is repetition + frequency = mastery in due time.
Get Comfortable with Failing
Writing daily also helps you to get comfortable with failing. Not every article I write makes it to the blog. Some days I just ramble out incoherent words or jot down ideas.
Other times I write articles that don’t turn out the way I want. But every word I write gets me closer to finding my voice, my style and trains my creativity to be tapped on demand.
Trial & Error
When learning any new skill, you need to allow yourself to make mistakes because you WILL make mistakes. And the more mistakes you make whilst on your ‘writing apprenticeship’, the more masterful your final works will be.
Learn from your mistakes and then move on swiftly. Trial and error is an essential part of life, especially so for creatives.
Your first draft will likely be awful! But the important thing to acknowledge here is that you will refine your writing as you learn and create improved versions of it. Every single book you have read has been edited multiple of times and in some cases completely re-written!
Especially when you are working on a creative project like writing a novel or developing a business plan, it is vital to maintain momentum. Just as running daily gets easier by the day, so does writing daily get (eventually) easier by the day!
You need to stimulate the creative muscle every day and the juices will start to flow more freely. I still struggle to write daily but it’s a goal I am working towards.
Do you write daily? Should you be writing daily?