Classic Writing Advice: Write Every Day

In this new series, I want to explore some of the classic writing advice given to authors and provide my opinions on and experiences with them. I don’t do this because I think I’m some brilliant writing authority – far from it. Rather, I’ve learned the most valuable writing lesson of all, one that you’ve probably heard, but that takes a long time to sink in:

There is no magic secret to writing. You just do it, and every writer does it differently.

writingBUT, even if you (logically) know this to be true, chances are you’ve Googled anyway (don’t be embarrassed – I still do it, too!). In those well-meaning search results, you’ve likely seen the golden nugget of writing advice: write every day.

A literal interpretation demands that you type/hand write/dictate new words every single day.

In theory, this is great advice. After all, even if you just write 250 words a day, over the course of a year that’s 91,250 words (about the length of my first novel).

If you are a beginning writer – without a finished manuscript – then I 100% agree with this advice. Your No. 1 priority should be practicing your craft and generating content. In fact, why don’t you go bang out your 250 words right now? It’ll be more useful to you than reading this post.

Now, what about us non-beginners? Those of us who have a completed book (or several)? Here’s where I start to disagree with “Write every day.”

I don’t know about you, but as a human, I have a demanding day job, a husband and cat, an active social life, and an apartment to upkeep. Finding time to type out those words can be really damn difficult. In any given day, I have between 45 minutes and 2.5 hours free to work on my author business.

And as an independent author, I mean B–capital IZ–ness. There’s a lot to do. I’m currently editing my second novel, plus writing and publishing a series of nonfiction booklets. Add in this blog, my author newsletter, social media, organizing promotional opportunities, emailing my cover designer … you get the point. There’s a lot of shit to do (I say “shit” lovingly – being an author really is the best job in the world to me).

So, can I find time to write every day? Yes. And you can, too. If you really simplify your schedule and overcome your laziness, you can write every single day. And we absolutely should. Every word we write makes us better.

targetBut do you HAVE to write every single day to be a successful author? I don’t think so. As long as you are editing, revising, writing your book description, or in some way putting art into the world and moving your project forward, then I say that’s A-O-K.

It all depends on your definition of success. When I defined success as writing new words every day, I considered myself a failure. Even while I was revising my first novel for publication, I kept saying, “Damn it, Kate! We have to start writing a new book! We suck!” I was blind to the fact that I WAS succeeding, because my end goal is publishing the fiction I write.

If your goal is to write for betterment or to finish that first manuscript, then please write every day. No exceptions. No excuses.

But if you have a finished book sitting on your hard drive, your goal is to publish said book, and you have very limited free time, for the love of Hemingway give yourself a break and do this instead: Move forward every day.

Editing counts. Revising counts. Outlining counts. Writing that dreaded book description counts.

The only thing that doesn’t count? Ignoring your book and denying the world your art.

There you have them, your marching orders. Now go move forward today.


Do you write new words every single day? How do you balance multiple projects at once? What are your daily writing or author goals?

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Kate M. Colby is an author of science fiction, fantasy, and nonfiction. When she is not writing or working, Kate enjoys playing video games, antiquing, and wine tasting. She lives in the United States with her husband and furry children.

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Posted in Writing & Publishing Articles, Writing Craft & Tips
27 comments on “Classic Writing Advice: Write Every Day
  1. mirymom says:

    Reblogged this on Mirymom's Blog and commented:
    I’m with you here. I write every day, but as I moved into life as a published author, I altered my definition of writing somewhat. I count blog posts, business emails, journal writing as well as new words on the fiction project. If I’m in editing/revision mode, I record 10% of edited words as my word count for the day. The important thing is that I give my writing life attention each and every day. It’s too easy for dreams to slide under the heap of life demands if you don’t fight for them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing your own definition of write every day, Samantha! Your final sentence sums up the heart of my article perfectly. You’ve got to do SOMETHING to keep your dreams afloat in the tidal wave of life.

      Like

  2. smnystoriak says:

    I agree 100%. Even if you aren’t writing new content, it’s really important to focus on your writing every day. Editing definitely counts. I would also add that writing blog posts count, as the previous commenter did. Thanks for sharing!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree that writing isn’t just about writing new words – it’s also editing, outlining, researching etc. But I think it’s healthy to take time off too. I’ve come to the realisation that “time” is my friend in the process of writing a novel. If I try to rush things I make bad plot choices and have to cut thousands of words. Putting a manuscript aside after a prolonged period of work is almost always a good idea, at least for me. I do read every day though – just because I love it so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You bring up a great point, Margarita. Sometimes you have to know when to break so that moving forward doesn’t become moving backward. And I agree – I try to read as much as I can too. Every book teaches me a little more about writing (and is a fun escape).

      Like

  4. pranabaxom says:

    Why doed one have to write every day if he/she is writing for fun. If writing becomes work, where is the fun?

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re right, and I should take that word out of my post, as I did not intend it for hobby writers, but rather for individuals who want to pursue some form of professional writing. Obviously, if writing is just for fun, then the writer in question should just do what makes them happy. Though I would say if writing is simply for fun then allowing yourself the time every day to have the fun can be important, as we so often neglect our passions in favor other obligations.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Good piece, Kate. Thanks for sharing. 🙂 — Suzanne

    Liked by 2 people

  6. […] via Classic Writing Advice: Write Every Day — Kate M. Colby […]

    Like

  7. kusumdayal says:

    so thoughtful and helpful instead.. this blog is worth reading.. and I want more advice from you because i’m new in writing world.. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. theryanlanz says:

    Hi Kate! Per your earlier permission, I scheduled this article to be featured as a guest post on Aug 25th. Feel free to hop in on the comments afterward. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I shared this, and like your idea of moving forward instead of having to actually write every day. Since I’m in the submission stage now, I’m writing here instead of starting something new, but I count it as progress!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. […] Classic Writing Advice: Write Every Day by Kate M. Colby (As a full-time author, I personally only writ five days a week , like a normal job… Unless I get a visit from the Muse Fairy) […]

    Liked by 1 person

  11. […] had an epiphany this year – I don’t have to write every day. And, given my current situation in life, it’s almost impossible for me to write new material […]

    Like

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