So after a week-long vacation, and several extremely busy days after getting back, I’ve finally returned to writing on a daily basis this week. The first couple days were tough, but now the words are flowing. I’m struck again, as I have been in the past, how important it is to write every day.
For the novelist, it’s critical. You simply can’t get any momentum going if you take days off between writing sessions. When you take a couple days off, you have to read over what you’ve previously written, re-calibrate, take a few paragraphs to warm up, and only then does real writing come out, maybe. You’ll never finish that way. But write daily, and each new session flows beautifully. Your mind has been working on the problems of the previous session and you start exactly where you left off previously, with new ideas and energy.
I’m not the only one who thinks this. Stephen King’s a big believer in writing every day. Raymond Chandler prescribed four hours a day for writing, and even if he couldn’t think of anything, he forced himself to sit in the chair and look out the window.
That’s novelists. Surely other types of writers are different? Well, maybe, but I’m not so sure. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe started writing a poem every day when he was a teen-ager, and continued the habit throughout his life. It worked out pretty well for him. I bet most successful writers make it to the writing desk daily, or nearly so.
If you miss a day here and there, it’s probably unavoidable. Don’t sweat it. But try to write at least six days every week. Avoid missing more than one day in a row. That’s how you keep your brain bubbling. Here’s a secret: Writing is not the product of inspiration; inspiration is the product of writing.
As Stephen King replies to those who need the Muse to strike them in order to write, it's true a writer's best work comes when the Muse hits, but it's a hell of a lot easier for the Muse to find you if she knows where to look.I wrote every day for years, and got a little burned out until a friend showed me a quote from William Golding, who said he wrote every day, when he was writing. Now I take summers off, except to work on outlines and, this year, prep a book for Kindle release. It's the balance I'm looking for, staying sharp without burning out.