Writers get a lot of advice thrown at them. One of these bits of advice is: Write Every Day!
They say that you’re not a writer if you don’t write. They say you need to have a writing habit, and that means sitting down to write every day.
I am a writer. I do not write every day.
First off, it’s impossible.
I do not currently have the luxury of dropping my day job for a career as a writer. Writing is like my second job (one where I don’t get paid!). Working two jobs, one without a break? No thanks.
It’s normal to take a day or two off from writing, sure. Maybe I’m being too literal with “writing every day” here. Even if I wasn’t being literal…
Sometimes, I take a whole month off from writing!
I like to think of writing in terms of input and output. When I’m writing, that’s output. I can write every day in November and churn out a novel (which I do every year for Nanowrimo).
But often, in December, I find myself depleted of words. I need input to refill that well of creativity. In December, I like to read and spend time with friends and family. I don’t feel guilty about not writing, because I just wrote a whole novel. In December, I don’t even want to revise! I take a well-deserved break from writing.
I’ve written previously about what seems to be my own circadian rhythms of writing. I’m most productive in the spring and fall, and less so during the winter and summer months. Partly, that’s because summer and winter have a lot of activities going on. There are a crazy amount of holidays in December, which means holiday parties and gift buying and making and planning. In the summer, there are a mess of birthdays and summer events and as a librarian I have to think about the summer reading program, which can take up a lot of brain space even when I’m not at work.
This year, I never took my December break. I finished my 50,000 words on We Live in the Dark for Nanowrimo, then immediately began writing Mitzi & Oz. And once I was done writing Mitzi & Oz, I started revising WLITD, and then hopped into revising The Victim’s Ball (again). And then I attempted to do Camp Nanowrimo.
I only wrote 10,000 words for Camp Nanowrimo before deciding I needed to take a break from writing for a while.
My well of creativity was empty. I keep finding myself wanting to read more. I spent a few days listening to audiobooks while I put together a puzzle. Honestly, I’ve had no desire to write.
And that’s okay! Since I’ve struggled with the guilt of not writing when I see other writers struggle to carve out time to write, I want to put this out there for every writer who needs to hear it:
IT IS OKAY TO NOT WRITE EVERYDAY.
Lots of activities other than directly writing words down lead to stories and writing. Here are things that help my writing that are not writing:
- Watching movies and TV
- Going for a hike
- Listening to music
- Talking to other people
- EXPERIENCING LIFE
I’m not sure how other people get ideas, or work through plot knots, but all of these things help my writing in ways that forcing myself to sit down at a computer and stare at a screen cannot.
I think there is something to be said about trying to carve out writing time each day when you are actively writing – especially with a first draft. First drafts require an immersion of sorts, and taking extended breaks between writing sessions will throw you out of the story. But one thing I need to remind myself is not to feel guilty about not writing when I’m not actively writing a first draft. I can still call myself a writer!
Do you write everyday, or do you take long vacations from writing?