If you still have doubts about whether you should be writing every day, it’s time to kick them to the curb.
Writer after established writer gives the same advice: to build your writing skills, you need to stretch them on a daily basis.
Stephen King says you should write every day until you meet a predetermined word count. Of course, it doesn’t have to be 2,000 words, but you have to start somewhere.
Author Bill O’Hanlon recommends starting by writing for 15 minutes a day. And this doesn’t mean spending 15 minutes staring at a blank screen or rewriting that first sentence for the 15th time. It means making a genuine effort to write, whether it’s starting the next chapter of your novel or simply freewriting.
Whether you write to a particular word count goal or choose a time limit, you need to find a strategy that works for you. Just remember: it doesn’t matter which method you pick as long as you use it.
Create a habit of writing every day
While “just sit down and write” is common advice, creating a habit of writing every day can be challenging for different reasons. Some writers struggle to find time to write creatively between unpredictable schedules, full-time jobs or families.
First, acknowledge your time or energy constraints — the size of your canvas, as James Clear calls it. Then, work within them to train yourself to write, using strategies like freewriting, creative rituals and eliminating all distractions.
Make tomorrow’s first step simple
Starting to write each day can be the hardest part, but you can set yourself up for success with a little preparation at the end of each day.
One strategy is to stop writing mid-sentence at the end of every day. This way, the next day you won’t spend hours trying to figure out where to start; you simply finish that sentence and keep going.
Take it a step further by copying that last sentence into a separate document at the end of each day. Spend some time writing out a few possible directions or a brief outline for tomorrow’s writing.
The next day, work only from that new document. This way, you won’t be distracted by the possibility of editing yesterday’s work — you’ll be focused on creating today’s.
Use technology to help youUse technology to help you write daily. @Buster suggests writing 750 words each day. Click To Tweet
This simple tool provides a distraction-free writing environment and lets you know once you reach your daily goal. The writing you produce is totally private, and a subscription is $5 a month after a free 30-day trial.
Try Seinfeld’s calendar system
Someone once asked Jerry Seinfeld for advice on becoming a great comedian. His reply was simple: buy a big wall calendar and hang it somewhere you’ll see it often.
Every day you meet your writing goal, mark a big X in red marker over that day on the calendar.
“After a few days you will have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job is to not break the chain.”
Easy, right? Just don’t break the chain.
Use this technique to meet specific writing goals. For instance, if you’d like to write a ebook, track your writing specific to that project on your giant calendar — if it’s in addition other writing, just use another color of marker.
Don’t have (or want to buy) a calendar? Writer Nora Bailey created an Excel spreadsheet formatted as calendar, with number of words written under specific days. When she meets her writing goal each day, the “total words” field automatically turns green. (Click to download a version of the spreadsheet.)
It’s deceptively simple to negotiate with yourself that you won’t be doing any writing today. You can say it’s late, you don’t feel like it or simply deny that you ever really wanted to start writing. The trick is in putting those excuses aside and putting pen to paper, fingers to keyboard.
There’s no one strategy that helps all writers write every day. Experiment to find one that works well for you!
Do you write every day? How do you make it a priority and maintain the habit?