Unpopular Writing Opinion: Don't Write Every Day
I know that some of you reading this will undoubtedly assume that I’ve titled this blog post “Don’t Write Every Day” to excuse the fact that I failed in my own 25 days of drafting challenge.
Yeah. I failed.
In the month of August, I wrote 22 days for a total of 23,087 words. Hey, not bad!
There was a time in my life where I would have considered this a failure. There’s this idea that’s prevalent in the writing community that your worth as a writer is equivalent to your productivity.
The most common writing advice I hear is to write every day.
But writing every day, for me, is not possible. I’ve tried. And you know what happened? My brain died. It died and then it caught fire and then my tears put the fire out but it was too late, my brain melted, and it oozed out of my ears.
It took the doctors months to put me back together again.
Okay, that was a little ridiculous, but you get my point.
“Creativity is a cycle between active productivity and dormant recovery.” Now, @emcheeseman is talking about creating art. But what is writing if not art? Wow, did I sound super stuck up right there. But writing is art. It is! And artists and creatives often suffer from burnout. We push too hard, do too much, and then all of a sudden, we hit a wall. We can’t move forward. We can’t move backward, either, because another wall has sprouted up behind us when we were dealing with a head injury. And side to side?
Burnout is not fun. Feeling guilty because you haven’t been as productive as you should be is not fun. Creation is fun.
Well. Sometimes. Creation is sometimes fun. And then you get into the revision side of things and oh my gosh why have i done this to myself what is wrong with me why is this my chosen profession i should be a dental hygienist instead no never mind i’m terrified of the dentist and other people’s teeth are gross.
The point is this: instead of forcing yourself to write every day, try to listen to yourself.
I say try because I think we get really good at not listening to that voice inside. We do get really good at telling ourself mean things, at bullying ourselves, on taking in the comments of others and applying it to ourselves like its gospel.
We skip a day of writing and spend the time not writing feeling guilty and calling ourselves lazy.
When what should be happening is, we listen to ourselves and know that we are fast approaching a wall, creatively speaking, and we need to take time away from writing to recharge.
Things I do to recharge (in no particular order): decorate my bullet journal, play board games with the kids, watch tv with my husband, bake cookies, doodle, read, go on a date with my husband, take the kids to the movies, go to church, go shopping. I particularly enjoy shopping.
Or, maybe you listen to that little voice inside and realize that writing every day is for you. That’s fine too! Everyone is different, and so is everyone’s individual creative process.
Balancing writing with our daily lives can be a struggle. Some people have these things called jobs that sound just dreadful. I, myself, have five children and all of them insist on wearing clothes and eating food and going to school and participating in extra curriculars and having friends.
Sometimes we all need a break.
I recommend journaling for getting better at listening to that voice inside. It’s helped me immensely. Beyond that, I recommend practicing grace. Give yourself grace for not meeting a lofty goal or even a not so lofty goal. Your worth as a writer — as a person — is not connected to your productivity. It’s not.
You are worthy as you are right now, whether you’ve written 4k words today, or watched 4 episodes of Father Brown.
P.S. If you have Netflix, please go watch Father Brown. You deserve it.