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We don't have to write every day

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Mike Jung

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I love this post by Daniel José Older, who beautifully articulates how the common "a real writer writes every day" advice hinders many of us by instilling shame, and advocates for self-forgiveness instead.

http://sevenscribes.com/writing-begins-with-forgiveness-why-one-of-the-most-common-pieces-of-writing-advice-is-wrong/
#1 - September 09, 2015, 08:37 AM

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Thanks for sharing, Mike! I don't write every day, but I definitely think about writing every day.
#2 - September 09, 2015, 08:42 AM
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My least favorite advice: Write every day. What a great way to hate writing, and to hate what you write.

What works better for me: write regularly, but never write on Sundays. On Sundays, I know I'm not allowed to write, so I start to feel eager to write. It's a great refresher. It gets the inspiration back up for the rest of the week.

I think Older is right in saying that we already have enough "shoulds" and we don't really need one as heavy as "write every single day."
#3 - September 09, 2015, 09:38 AM
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That was terrific, Mike! Thanks for sharing it.

I do write almost every day, but most of that is for my paid job (and it's not very creative  :lol4 ). But, like Arty, I do think about writing every day, revisions, new ideas, what-ifs, etc. I often feel guilty when I don't put those thoughts onto the paper, so to speak, so this was a timely reminder that not-writing is absolutely essential.
#4 - September 09, 2015, 09:57 AM

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I totally agree with this, and certainly don't write every day. On the other hand, I think this advice sometimes gets doled out as a counter to the other problem many writers (or would-be writers) have of putting off writing until they "find the time." The write every day advice, to me, is just a shorthand for making sure you consistently find pockets of time for writing. I don't take it literally - or I'd get very discouraged.
#5 - September 09, 2015, 10:24 AM
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I don't write every day, but I definitely think about writing every day

Haha! Me too. And in my dreams as well.
Vijaya
#6 - September 09, 2015, 10:47 AM
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I think this advice sometimes gets doled out as a counter to the other problem many writers (or would-be writers) have of putting off writing until they "find the time." The write every day advice, to me, is just a shorthand for making sure you consistently find pockets of time for writing. I don't take it literally - or I'd get very discouraged.

This.
#7 - September 09, 2015, 03:48 PM
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I love his idea of forgiveness. It lightens up the entire body.

I personally write every morning M-F. But I really need the break on the weekends to imagine and play and focus on other things. By Monday, I'm anxious to sit down again.

Ree
#8 - September 09, 2015, 09:43 PM

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Interesting article. Thanks for sharing, Mike! :)
#9 - September 10, 2015, 07:02 AM

Thank you, Mike. As the mom of a young toddler who feels guilt for not making the most of every moment the kiddo's asleep, this is exact what I needed to hear.
#10 - September 10, 2015, 07:15 AM

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Thanks, Mike. The idea that you can't be a writer unless you must write to breathe does a disservice to many of us. It's true that it's easier NOT to write than to write, and sometimes a habit is best kept consistent. But it's OK to be a weekend writer or a M-F writer or an occasional one.
#11 - September 10, 2015, 07:17 AM
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Kell, I agree. I have three regular blocks of writing time every week, and I squeeze in the odd 30-60 minutes as often as I can, but that's about it. I can write every day in fairly short bursts - when I'm on deadline, for example - but I can't sustain it without neglecting other areas of my life that I'm unwilling to neglect. This idea behind this post also helps me combat psychological bugaboos besides shame, including resentment and envy. That's my personal three-headed hydra of writing doom, and practicing self-forgiveness is a good way for me to push back against all three heads.
#12 - September 10, 2015, 09:28 AM

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It may be a good idea to question all notions of HAVE-TOs. High time, I'd say.

Is writing every day helpful? Probably for many.
Is it a must for "real" writers? Who ever came up with those "musts" is likely selling a course in which they packaged how you-can-be-this-or-that, and for a nice fee they'd make you this-or-that. Then, if it doesn't turn out for you, they'll point to the places you didn't do this-or-that as prescribed.

I take all how-to advice as possible helpful suggestions, something to consider and try, and not written in stone. We don't need to feel like slackers if we tried it and found that it actually doesn't work for us.

And when we find something that does work well with the way we create, please folks, don't package it and try to sell it to others as "the way." Then you'd be just like the how-to mavens.

Ok, getting off the soap-box.
#13 - September 10, 2015, 05:23 PM
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And when we find something that does work well with the way we create, please folks, don't package it and try to sell it to others as "the way."

WHAT? :cry  I can't sell my idea of the afternoon nap being the KEY to successful writing?

Vijaya
#14 - September 10, 2015, 05:30 PM
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You can, and I'd even consider it... :faint and if I wake up with a headache, as I'm prone to after mid-day naps, I'd chuck it to not-for-me.  ;)
#15 - September 10, 2015, 05:47 PM
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Whew, what a relief. I can go days without writing anything more than emails, blog posts, comments, etc.  :vacation
#16 - September 11, 2015, 10:53 AM
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Thanks for this, Mike.  :stars3
#17 - September 11, 2015, 11:10 AM
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This was great. Thank you Mike.
#18 - September 11, 2015, 12:17 PM
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I write as if it were a part-time job. Afternoons, M-F, weekends off, holidays off, sick days off.
#19 - September 11, 2015, 12:32 PM

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WHAT? :cry  I can't sell my idea of the afternoon nap being the KEY to successful writing?

Vijaya, I bought that one already! But I haven't paid for it. Just tell me where to mail the check. :)
#20 - September 11, 2015, 12:54 PM
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I write as if it were a part-time job. Afternoons, M-F, weekends off, holidays off, sick days off.
Actually, DITTO, only switch "afternoons" to "mornings.". But it's because it works for me. No "shoulds."
#21 - September 11, 2015, 01:12 PM
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If it makes you feel any better, Vijaya, I'm completely useless without a good afternoon nap!

Secret tip: to avoid headaches, take short naps (less than 20 minutes). It works like a charm!

Hugs! :)
#22 - September 26, 2015, 07:54 AM

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Love this, Mike. Thanks for sharing!

I can't write every day at this stage in life...3 kids, job, etc. But I'm always churning ideas around and taking notes. There is no one formula for every writer. We shouldn't feel like we're not "real writers" if we don't write every day.

Vijaya, the afternoon nap sounds lovely:) I tell the (Pre-K) kids in my class that don't like nap time that some day they will miss it!
#23 - September 26, 2015, 01:09 PM
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I tell the (Pre-K) kids in my class that don't like nap time that some day they will miss it!

Yup! Hey, my teenagers sometimes take a nap ... and then stay up much too late. But I trained them early on the joys of napping.

Mercedes, I didn't know that super-short naps prevented headaches. I'm definitely going to try it :zzz

Vijaya


#24 - September 26, 2015, 03:39 PM
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Missed this thread before, but I agree with pretty much everyone.

Writers write. Whether that's every day or just on weekends or every other day or, like me, in binges of a several weeks or months, then nothing for several more months! (Probably not the healthiest way, but it's my way.  :lol5 ) Everybody is different and we all need to find what works for us. So long as you're writing (or have written!) then you're a writer.

 :typing

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#25 - September 27, 2015, 05:54 PM
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Like Whizbee, I always take Sundays off too. I've always hated the "write everyday" advice. It used to cause me a lot of angst. Lately, I've found that I was being too easy on myself though (and not writing) and putting everything else before it. So now, I aim to write 5 days a week, but just like exercising, it doesn't always happen. But having the goal of writing most days, helps me keep going.
And just for fun, recently I started logging my time writing or revising. It hasn't been every day this month, but just seeing that I've worked on my ms x many days of the month has been really motivating.
#26 - September 28, 2015, 04:06 PM
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For a long time I wrote every day, even if only for five minutes, because it helped me keep my head in the story. Eventually the pressure to do that started to wear on me, and I felt like I was always writing through an overworked fog. Now I'm in a phase of being more sporadic, but the writing sessions I do are more productive. In a few months or a year maybe I'll do something different yet.

I totally agree that it's better to trust your gut on these things than to follow any one-size-fits-all advice.
#27 - September 30, 2015, 10:00 AM
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Thank you for posting this! I can be really hard on myself sometimes, so this was something I needed to read. (And these days, if I can sit down to write 2 or 3 times a week, then it is a really good week!)
#28 - September 30, 2015, 06:40 PM

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I do not know why people think writers need to write ever day. Writing every day can and will cause you to burn out. May not be now but it will happen. I write 3 to 4 days a week. That way I can run the story though my head and see where my story is going. Writing should be about enjoyment, not an job. Any time my writing ever becomes an job, I will quit writing.
#29 - October 03, 2015, 04:27 PM

Mike Jung

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Well, to be fair, I think saying "real writers shouldn't write every day" is as reductive and misguidedly all-encompassing as saying "real writers have to write every day." There are certainly people who do very well by writing every day, just as there are people who don't. There are people who treat writing as a job and are very, very successful; there are people who make a careful effort to retain a sense of whimsy and playfulness in their writing routine and are also very, very successful. The process is unique for each of us because each of us is a unique person.
#30 - October 03, 2015, 08:22 PM

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