One of the most common nuggets of writing advice you will come across is – to be a good writer, you must write every day.
Stephen King mentions in his memoir-and-writing-advice book On Writing that he writes every day, whether it’s Christmas or his birthday or any other special occasion. Many other bestselling writers like Haruki Murukami too adopt this practice. This comes across in their quality and proficiency.
Many ways to achieve this goal are also suggested – such as setting the alarm an hour earlier and waking up before the rest of the household to get the writing done.
It’s all solid advice, with just one problem – I don’t find it workable for most writers who toil through day jobs and also may have to juggle parenting and housework chores. At the most, the weekends provide a longer window of time to write, and that’s after completing all the sundry chores and errands that pile up during the workweek.
Finding time to write on a daily basis is difficult. Writing regularly on the weekends has helped me complete all the stories and essays I have wanted to write.
A little bit of maths can help here. Writing 500 words a day for 5 days a week will produce 2500 words. Writing 1000 words on each day of the weekend will result in 2000 words, not much of a reduction. In fact, if you can get some writing time in on a Friday, it can add up to a significant total of 2500 or even 3000 words.
Writers who are starting out would indeed benefit from writing daily, but if they can’t, they should adopt a regular writing schedule and stick to it.
I think its harped on a lot, and that’s why I would like to suggest that it’s okay to not write every day. It would be great if you could, but it doesn’t mean you cannot build a writing career or a substantial body of work if you don’t.
I have twice attempted an experiment of writing 500 words a day for a long stretch of time, and uncovered a few problems with this approach too. You can read about my efforts in this article here for SFWA.
Even now, I write mostly on weekends but I try to squeeze in a few words on workdays as well when I get the chance.
Have you ever tried writing every day? Was it successful? Do share your experiences in the comments below!