There is a piece of writing advice that often echoes in my head, and I immediately knew that I needed to write about it (because I like my blog to be meta in writing about writing, blogging about blogging, etc.). Almost as if on a broken record, I have heard the phrase of writing advice that every writer has heard at least once: Write Every Day.
Before I continue, I must add that I believe this advice to be wonderful. When finishing my NaNoWriMo 2014 novel, I wrote every day for the month of November and didn’t touch it again until summer. In those middle months, I lost touch of the characters, themes, and scenes I had already written and had yet to write. If I had written every day, or at least every other day, I would not have been so forgetful of the progress I had made up to that point. I would have finished the draft sooner without coming across the frequent plot holes that arose from neglecting it for so long.
That being said, not writing every day is not a bad thing.
Stephen King writes about 2,000 words a day. Ernest Hemingway was said to have written about 500 words a day. Michael Crichton claimed he wrote 10,000 words a day! (See the chart The Daily Word Counts of 39 Famous Authors by Writers Write.) For NaNoWriMo writers, the magic number is 1,667 words a day to have a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. When I am working on my own writing projects, I try to stick between 500-1,000 words a day.
But I like to do things other than writing, too. I read. I play video games. I go bowling. I go to restaurants and amusements parks, theatres, and the mall. I spend time with my friends and loved ones. I eat. I sleep. I live. Just because I’m not writing, doesn’t mean I’m not gathering material to write about later. Or thinking of future scenes. Or planning future chapters.
Writers write about their ideas, and most of their ideas come from activities other than writing. I like to think of the times when I’m not writing as subconscious brainstorming. I think about my current project, or ponder on future projects. I think about how I can incorporate various subjects into my work-in-progress. A day with a more complete outline is a successful day in my book.
Writing every day has its positive effects. But not writing every day also has its benefits. Find a schedule that works for you – even if it is scattered and inconsistent, and don’t feel bad for not following this piece of advice on a daily basis. If you stick to a schedule that you are most comfortable with, your manuscript will reflect that, and you can finish your own work at your own pace.
What does your writing schedule look like?