Write every day. It’s something they tell you to do if you want to be a writer. And it seems like both an easily achievable and a hopelessly insurmountable task all at once.
I mean, of course you should write every day. How long does it take to sit down and scribble out a few words? It’s the easiest thing in the world to do… until it isn’t.
Life gets in the way often and, unless you’re aggressively intentional about setting aside your time to write, it’s easy to find that you’ve gone days and days without making any time to sit down and put pen to paper or fingers to keys (well, for anything other than updating your Facebook status, right?).
3 reasons why you can’t write every day
Think you don’t have time to write? Here are 3 reasons you can’t write every day and why they don’t actually matter.
- You’re too busy
Understandably. Most of us are busy somehow. But you prioritize what you want most, and that gets done first so, sit down and think about whether you can’t take a little slice of time from binge-watching that Netflix series, or right after you put the kids to bed, and give your writing your full attention.
- You don’t have the time for a big project
Guess what! You can do this in tiny increments. As little as 15 minutes a day will keep you moving forward with your writing practice, keep the gears oiled, and help you grow as a writer. Or if you like word counts better, pick something reachable and start there… 250 words. You can totally meet that.
- You can’t think of anything to say
If you’re stuck, not finding anything about your current work inspiring, then try writing prompts. You can find them on-line or buy a book full of them. My cousin David goes through old family photos and makes up stories to go with the people in them. There’s always something you can spend your 15 minutes on.
The thing is, people will tell you that after you do this for x-number of days, you’ll develop a habit and you won’t think about it anymore, you’ll just do it. I’m honestly not convinced (and neither is this study on building habits). But just because you may have to be extra diligent about making sure you find your 15 minutes a day, doesn’t mean you should skip it altogether. The diligence is part of the point.
Sure you’ll miss days. It happens to everyone. But if you set your intention, if you put your mind to it, and if you remind yourself how important your writing practice is to you, writing every day is a realizable goal!
This new year, I’m giving myself a challenge. I’m going to write every day for 15 minutes. I challenge you to write along with me. Comment below and let me know you’ll be participating so that I can cheer you on! Share your successes and your failures with me, too. Let’s make 2016 our best writing year yet.
If it’s important… If it’s something you want more than anything in the world… If you’re really serious about this writing thing… then just do it. Write Every Damn Day.
These days, more than a few websites and blogs and social media posts offer you advice on how to finish your novel, easy hacks to getting published, ways to get inspired. And all of that advice can add up to success or to failure depending on how you implement it and what actually works for you.
But if there’s one thing I’m certain on, no matter what other advice you receive, know this: Writers Write.
The only way to be a writer is to write. Consistently. Not just that one time, not just someday when you have time. Sit down and write. Fifteen minutes. Right now. Go on. I’ll wait.
If you need, you can find a writing prompt somewhere out there on the internet. Or just pick an object on your desk and spend 500 words describing it (ouch… that’s such a painful exercise if you’ve never tried it).
Now, not everyone can write every day consistently, because … LIFE! But you can surely find two weeks to a month to set yourself a challenge of writing every day and here’s why it’s a good idea. If you write for fifteen minutes a day for 14-30 days, you will certainly begin building your writing habit. You’ll get used to sitting down and cranking out the words for fifteen minutes or whatever your set goal is. You’ll begin forming muscle memory and rewiring those synapses from their resistant, at-rest state to a state of readiness and ability.
Writing a little every day will give you the confidence that you CAN sit down and write whenever you want to. And then when your temporary challenge is up you’ll be able to set yourself realistic goals. Maybe in real life you only write a few times a week for longer periods. Or maybe five days a week instead of seven. Whatever works for you works for you, as long as you’re still writing! As long as you don’t let the time slip by you and allow your brain to go back to that state of rest where it’s hard to get motivated again.
Writers write. The more you write, the more you will find you are able to write. The more you write, the stronger your ability will become. So sit down and write. Write write write! You’ll never be sorry that you tried.
Writer’s block. The old foe of creative minds everywhere. Standing in the way of completed manuscripts since… well since people began writing, probably!
If you’ve ever felt writer’s block, you know it’s a horrible experience. There you are, chugging along on your manuscript when suddenly you freeze. You can’t think of what to write next. Maybe you perceive a problem or plot hole and you can’t think of a way around it. Maybe you woke up, sat down to write, and no words came.
I’ve been there. And I still end up there regularly. Usually it’s because I’m afraid of messing up my project, and I want to get it right. Well, newsflash, self. I can’t get it right all the time. And first drafts are supposed to be messy.
Still, just telling yourself to buck up doesn’t always get the words flowing. So what can you do instead?
Three ways to fight writers block
- Write something else for a while
Walk away from the manuscript for a little while. Write a blog post. Or work on a different project for a few hours/days. Give yourself some time away and then come back and see if you have any new perspective or ideas.
- Pick a writing prompt
The other week I had been dealing with the stress and frustration of writer’s block with a current project. So I went to a prompt generator site (two of my favorites are Writer Igniter and Seventh Sanctum) and picked a prompt that would lead me into writing about my characters again. I probably won’t use much from that writing session, but the point is to grease the wheels, to get the fingers flying across the keys again, and to get your brain back into that world and thinking about those characters again.
- Do something completely different
Occasionally it makes sense to put down the pen or walk away from the keyboard altogether for a short time. Try painting, or take a long walk. Give your brain time to be creative in a different way so that whatever problem you’re working through in the manuscript has time to marinate. You’ll come back to the page with a better perspective and more ideas.
No matter what you have to remember to do what works for you. And when it stops working, try something different. Writer’s block is not a “forever disease.” So give yourself time and space to work out the puzzle that has presented itself. You’ll be pleased with the results when you finally get back to it.