IWSG – Every Day

Today is my initial contribution to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a marvelously self-deprecating collection of bloggers whom I’ve recently joined. The only requirement for membership is to contribute a post on the first Wednesday of each month; consider this my audtion.

  

Among the suggestions for “ISWG Day” is to offer advice or encouragement to other writers, so allow me to share the one habit I’ve adopted that’s helped me achieve my modest writing goals. It’s simple to state, not always easy to execute — but writing every day has been the key to my limited success.

Rephrasing into a command: You need to write every day. And when I say every day, I mean, every day.

No breaks for weekends or holidays. No vacations. No compromsises (I’ll write two posts today so I can skip tomorrow), no rationalizations (Tomorrow I’ll revise the draft I have today — it’s quality, not quantity, that matters), no excuses (It’s been a hell of a day, I need a mental break).

Every day.

Length doesn’t matter; if all I’ve got one day is a sentence, that lonely string of words will just have to do. Quality doesn’t matter; sometimes I dash off something I consider ridiculously lame, only to receive more positive response than I do on posts that I believe to be much better (a great lesson in self-critical humility). Consistency doesn’t matter; my blog is mostly a linear development of different fiction projects, but if I need to go off script for a day or two, that’s where I’ll go.

Every. Day.

Starting a daily writing habit is not going to be easy. You’re going to forget a day here and there at the beginning; it took a good three months before the habit became ingrained in me, and in the year that followed there were more than a few oh shit evenings where I jumped from bed and hit the Publish button moments before midnight. But eventually, it becomes a part of your day that you plan for, and enjoy.

Every day. Even when it’s difficult.

Last spring, as my mother’s health deteriorated and I left my job, home, and family to be with her at the end, I considered setting aside my blog temporarily. Writing at the time seemed self-indulgent, selfish; my blogging projects held no appeal. I knew I couldn’t continue writing solely to appease my vanity — yet I still felt it was important for me to write. Take care of yourself,the words of my mother and friends, family in those final days. You need to eat, get some rest; take a shower, go for a walk, cry when the sorrow is too much. You’re no good to anyone if you’re a wreck. Writing had become too important for me to set aside; deciding not to write would be like intentionally not brushing my teeth in the morning — I could do it, but I wouldn’t feel right the entire day. So I decided to continue writing, every day, even the day of her funeral; nonsense verse, verbal salads of garden vegetables tossed with whipped cream, the jibberish rantings of a soul in pain. I’m neither glad nor upset that I wrote daily during that time; I just know it was what I had to do.

Every day. On the good days and the bad, when the words come easily and when they have to be extracted, whether you feel like writing or feel you’ve earned a break. Writing, every day — the blissfully bittersweet obligation.

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14 thoughts on “IWSG – Every Day

  1. I tend to think I don’t write every day, but I don’t write fiction every day. Most days. Other days I write a blog, post comments on blogs, and post on writer forums on FB, and other websites. I tried a write every day fiction approach and it was great for making me see I could fit in words even over lunch break in the office. For me, it’s hard to shut my writer brain off and snap back into day job mode.

    Here’s my IWSG March post: How to Succeed at Twitter Without Really Trying

  2. Welcome to the IWSG! I think your audition was marvelous. I love the idea of writing every day…and got a good giggle out of the salad topped with whipped cream.

    As for those beloved quick posts- I’ve had the same sort of response. Do you think it could have something to do with quicker posts being more honest? I have less time to sensor myself when I write and post quickly.

  3. Pingback: Honest Brevity | The Diligent Dilettante

  4. Thanks for this. I do try to write every day, but I’m more of the 5 out of 7 category. I love that blistering discipline that you catch in your closing: “Every day. On the good days and the bad, when the words come easily and when they have to be extracted . . .” Whether short or long. Regardless of what else is going on. The passing of a parent is a watershed event, and yet, you persevered.

  5. I’ve heard writing every day is definitely the key. And I try to stick to it, however, (and I know we’re all different) I find a day or two off is refreshing and revitalizing for my work. I do feel guilt when I take these days but coming back is like owning fresh eyes.

    Sorry to hear about your mother.

    • I encourage you to continue doing what works for you. And never feel guilty for not writing — guilt works as motivation for superheroes, but not for mortal writers like ourselves.

  6. This is one of those pieces of advice that work well for a lot of people and then, out of left field, others absolutely disagree. I happen to agree with you. šŸ˜‰ For me, I feel guilty if I don’t write every day. Making it a habit means I work regularly toward my goals and know where I am in my writings, as well as what I still need to accomplish and keep the momentum going.

    But I’ve had many people disagree and tell me that they don’t write every day, and don’t feel that it makes them more or less of a writer to do so (or not do so, in their case). I suppose it’s to each his/her own, but it always interests me to see other’s points of view!

    And, from me, great tip–and great encouragement. There is always time to write a sentence a day, even if it’s just “salad with whipped cream.”

  7. Welcome! What I found most interesting, and intimidating to me, is that not only did you write every day, you wrote “in public” every day, so people would know whether or not you forgot, missed, or skipped a posting. I’m very impressed!

    • Thank you for your kind words. What I enjoy about blogging is that it’s a big step beyond journaling — by hitting Post, you’re making a commitment, to yourself and your followers. Intimidating? Perhaps a bit, but with that anxiety comes an energy that you can feed from.

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