In 2016 I stumbled into my current habit of being an every day writer. It was a goal for a number of years, but one that I could never make stick until I discovered I had written every day for a week and then through sheer stubbornness continued to write every day. (I’m currently on day 585.) I’ve recently seen a number of posts suggesting that you don’t need to write every day, and I’ve given people the same advice when they’re fighting against intense schedules or suffering from chronic or mental illnesses (depression devours your ability to write, I get it), but I’ve benefitted from writing every day, so I want to offer a few reasons you should reconsider if writing every day is right for you.
(1) Build a Writing Habit
The greatest benefit I’ve gotten from writing every day is that I write every day! I never question when my next writing session will be because I know it will be tomorrow. There are days when my schedule is cruel and I don’t find time to write until just before bed, but writing every day is such a habit now that I can’t fall asleep until I’ve written. (True story: I was gone 12 hours, worked an event, got home after 11, got in bed, and even though I was exhausted, I got up when I realized I hadn’t written.)
(2) Build Writing Confidence
Because writing every day is a habit, it’s now easier for me to get words on the page. Just yesterday my writing group watched me struggle to write a blog post. I had brainstormed a few different topics and wrote on each one until the idea petered out. I didn’t finish any of those posts yesterday, but now I have starts for three more posts. I wasn’t afraid to travel down the “wrong” path or to just put words on the page and see what I like later because I was confident that at the end of my writing session I would have something.
(3) Build a Defense Against Writer’s Block
I still come up against blocks, but it’s easier for me to break through the blocks because writing is a habit. The first fifty words of the day are usually the hardest, so I decided that even on a bad day—on the busiest day, the day when I’m feeling super sick and uncreative—I have to write one hundred words. It’s harder to stay blocked when every word I write contributes to achieving a goal. And within one hundred words I’ll usually find an angle (or identify two angles that aren’t working) and suddenly I’ve hit two hundred words, then three hundred, etc. It’s also harder for me to throw in the towel since I’m not only trying to check a box that says I’ve written today, but I’m also trying to check a box for a word count goal.
Those are the three ways I’ve benefitted the most from writing every day, but truthfully there are times when you just cannot write every day. My previous job was demanding to the point of being overwhelming and was a contributing factor to why I wasn’t an every day writer until 2016. But it didn’t stop me from having goals and from benefitting from those goals.
If you’re in a situation wherein you absolutely cannot write every day, try to set a weekly goal for yourself, like to write three days a week. You could decide that any day counts, or you might set aside specific days (like a day you go to a writing group). I used to write for 15 minutes on my lunch break—I didn’t do it every day, but on the days I did, I returned to my desk feeling better about life because I had taken the time to be creative before going back to the grind.
Any writing goal you make and stick with gets you closer to building a habit, building your confidence, and building your defenses against writer’s block, so even if you aren’t writing every day, making a commitment to writing any days is a good foundation.