Thursday, August 11, 2011

Reasons Not to Write Everyday

My goal to write everyday has been a great thing for me at this point in my life, but it's not for everyone. In fact, sometimes it’s the worst thing you can do.
I took a book-critique class in college, and one of the students was frustrated that her book was progressing slower than she wanted. She still loved her book, but she was so frustrated that she came close to abandoning the project.
I told her, “Your book is worth the time it will take to take to finish it. You can take ten years if you need to, as long as it gets done.”
Another student sat across the table glaring at me. She did this every class. I’m not sure why she hated me so much. When she heard my advice, she sneered and said, “You can’t do that if you want to be a real writer.”
Despite her evilness, she had a point. Most of the Pros have strong work ethics and do whatever it takes to spit those words out every day.
This made me think of when I started Sacred Fire as a newly-wed sophomore in college. I didn’t have the time to write a book, so I just researched and wrote as I felt like it.
Two years later, my research was done and I was half-way finished with the first draft. I remember scrolling through the document and wondering, “When on earth did I have time to do this?”
I finally decided to buckle down and do whatever it took to get it done. I used force, guilt, rewards, persuasion, and self-loathing. The pressure I put on myself was crippling. I didn’t get much done – certainly less than before.
You may want to be like “the pros,” but your desire to be published is not worth sacrificing your ability to write. Your priority is to love your book. If writing is hit-and-miss for you, like it was for me for a while, that’s okay. Eventually your book will be done, and that’s worth being patient.


  1. I agree. Sometimes it takes removing yourself from the idea. When I force it, I end up writing things that don't make sense or are too Deux-ex-Machina. And I have to go back and rewrite any way.

    When I can't find my way through the fog of my character's fate, I usually go back and revise. Somehow during that process I find my way, and the way for my characters too.

  2. Hi Teralyn! It's been a while.

    I really appreciate this post. It's important not to put too much pressure on yourself or your book. It just makes you feel guilty and miserable. I love writing, but I've also realized that I might not want to be a full-time author (I haven't decided yet...and probably never will unless some publishing house offers me a contract). As things stand, writing being my hobby/avocation, I get to enjoy the process and the stories I create without the pressure of deadlines; and I can still pursue my dream of someday being published (you know, as longs as I keep querying).

    The point is there's plenty of time to worry about getting things done quickly once you've got a deal with a publisher. Until then, there's no rush; don't kill the fun!

  3. Reading this made me feel so much better about my progress with my novel. Part of me just wants to be able to work every day on it, but things don't always come together every day.

  4. Placing unnecessary pressure... *pointing guiltily to self* Shucks. Time to back off I guess.

    I'm of the opinion you write as fast as you write. Some people pop out page turners in a couple months. The rest of us mere mortals should not hold ourselves to their standard, but find our own pace. Writing that ages is usually far more eloquent and deep. Time lends to perspective, and perspective to masterpieces. At least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

  5. I actually *hate* how prescriptive some writing advice can be. 'Write everyday' is one that bothers me the most. Not everyone *can* do that - it doesn't mean they aren't serious about their work. I think this advice should be changed to 'visit your WIP every day' this can be while you're washing dishes, folding laundry, pretending to pay attention at a finance meeting - whatever. Stay in touch with your writing, live in that world, a little bit, every day. You don't have to 'produce' that's for vegetables and cows. You just have to stay connected to your words.
    Sorry for the rant!

  6. Love the cartoon! I agree that you have to find what works for you.


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