Does A Daily Writing Practice Matter?

by Starla J. King on October 3, 2013

Does it really matter whether we write every day or not?
Does kinda-regularly count?
Does it do any good to write on a “whenever” or “once in a while” schedule?

Yes.

Yes it really matters, and yes it always counts, and yes, it always does some good.

But… how much? 

Honestly I’m still figuring that out, continually experimenting with and learning what seems to work for me, for clients, and for others who hold writing as an important part of their lives.

Here’s what I’m noticing:

Writing every day is a commitment.  A huge commitment.  One, quite frankly, that I’ve not yet been willing to go all in for.  So I currently write (almost) every day during the week.  

You see, I tend to either totally blow off rules or follow them so rigidly that they eventually paralyze me, so I need a sturdy yet flexible structure: for me that’s 5 days “on” and 2 days “off.”   While I was writing my book* this year, I tried the EVERY day thing, and I soon started fussing at my writing, at my book, at my life… so back to 5 days per week.

On the other hand, I know of many writers who do write every single day, and will tell you that writing EVERY day is the most important thing in a writer’s life.  I (mostly) believe that too. 🙂

Clearly, I don’t know the magic number.  But what I do know?  Writing regularly is important.  That is, after all, what makes it a practice — something you commit to, that you stay present with, that you follow through on, and that you learn and grow from.

Oh I can hear you grumbling:  “But writing is supposed to be spontaneous!  Where’s the joy in a schedule?? Ugh, this all sounds like work!  You’re killing my interest, my passion, my creative freedom!” 

I know, honey, I know.

I too want to throw caution to the wind and ride the whim of creativity so every writing session is nothing but pure mystical bliss.  But give me more than a few days of that all-out freedom, and inspiration inevitably gets watered down by distractions and “oh, I’ll do it tomorrow” and “I’m too tired, I’m going to go eat donuts.”  None of which, you’ll notice, facilitates writing.

So here’s the thing: creativity thrives within carefully-crafted and gently-applied structure. Truly.

When we write within the structure of a regular schedule:

  • We learn to prioritize our writing time … and those around us learn that our writing is a priority.
  • We believe more in our writing, and that confidence spills powerfully onto the page. (That thing you’ve always wanted to write about, but haven’t dared? Get ready…) 
  • We stay present with our writing work, making it that much easier to re-connect the next time we write.
  • We write more.  Which makes us write more.  Which keeps us writing more.
  • We hone our writing craft.
  • We discover our natural writing interests (topics and styles).
  • We learn to hear our own voice through our writing.
  • We give inspiration a chance to meet us more regularly as it too learns our schedule.
  • We start showing up more regularly, deeply, and intentionally in our lives. Writing is, after all, a practice of deep listening through open attention.

So what is your most beneficial definition of regular writing?   That depends (of course. sigh.), so ask yourself the following 3 questions:

  1. What is realistic, given the other commitments in my life?  Take that number and consider adding one more (day or time segment) to it to make sure you’re not letting yourself weasel out of available writing time.
  2. Will this schedule give me the time needed in order to reach my writing goals?  (Goals? Writing goals?? Yep.   Call me... we’ll coach around that).  If so, excellent.  If not, what needs to change so you can adjust your writing schedule?
  3. Does this schedule feel like the right amount of challenge for you?  Does it make you nervous AND excited?  If so, perfect.  If just nervous, it might be too much challenge.  If just excited, might be not enough challenge.

Create the schedule you think will work for you, commit to it (in your heart, and on your calendar), let others know about it (accountability!!), and try it out.  Let it be an experiment.  Tweak it til it seems just about right for you.  Change it up if it stops working.  And keep writing… regularly.

What to write during this time?  Short answer: something.  Long answer: stay tuned for another blog post about that.

So … does it really matter if we write every day or not?  Yes… but maybe just as much for its encouragement to write regularly as to write daily.  Go… find out… and let us know your answer.

*******
*My upcoming book is Wide Awake. Every Day. Daily Inspiration for Conscious Living.  Sign up here to get an email notice when the book is published (est. early December 2013).

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