L.A. Kennedy

Beyond the story

By Batya

It’s a Choice

Not every writer does it every day. Not even every writer you love or aspire to be like. It isn’t a badge that proves something about you, your identity, or your commitment. Just as there are good reasons to write daily, there are equally good reasons not to.

Your Writing Self, like the rest of you, requires more than one type of nourishment.

We live in a culture with a skeptical attitude about rest. We mistrust it. Slacking off, being lazy, not committed. Just do it.

There are many writers, books and blogs that tout daily writing. Why? Because for those writers it works. And sometimes it works for this writer too. But if I had to write every day, all the time, I would not be fulfilled as a writer, I would feel burdened. I would start to resent the work I love most.

It’s Not a Pass

This isn’t advice to write only when it is easy, convenient or going your way. Sometimes writing is hard. Good hard. But after good hard work, we rest. We do something else. We fill ourselves up to gather the energy to work again.

In the tale, The Red Shoes a girl who loves to dance, can’t stop, and it kills her. We can use anything, even our greatest gifts and our greatest loves, to hurt ourselves, if we aren’t mindful.

This is my nature. It might not be yours. That’s my point. Find your practice, what works for you. Experimenting with what other writers do is a great method, as long as you don’t berate yourself if our ways aren’t yours. It doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you.

Challenge Yourself but Don’t Beat up on Yourself

Try any idea that interests you a few times. But be wary of any one action defining you as a writer. Yes, writers write. But they also read, percolate on ideas, revise, share their writing, raise families, have other jobs, fight causes, have friends, engage in hobbies and go to parties.

In my writing life, I go through periods of daily writing. Like right now, this post is part of a 30 day blog writing challenge I’ve set for myself. I write every day when I have a project and I need to push through self imposed or publication deadlines. I might write every day for a week or two after I haven’t written in a while.

Three Types of Writers Who Must Write Every Day

  1. Writers that need to unload“it” (whatever the current subject is) from their minds. They get creatively jammed up if they don’t. These writers feel constipated, agitated and anxious. They get grumpy and very unpleasant to be around. You want them to write every day because, as a result, they are much nicer people.
  2. Those that write for a living that requires they produce new material daily. These are people making their money from their daily writing: reporters, some bloggers, etc. They choose this path. I would add a sub group here of people who use writing as a regular spiritual, emotional or healing practice. In this case, daily writing isn’t a monetary choice. It’s like daily prayer or silent meditation.
  3. The final group is the one to be sure you aren’t a part of. These are the folks whose identity as a writer is wrapped up in daily writing. They go crazy if they don’t write because it threatens their self-image. They see not writing every day as a failure of commitment. They look down on anything less than daily practice. They live by the equation, daily writing = being a real writer, period. For this group, my heart hurts.

Plan B

I’ve watched a number of TV shows lately in which a professional lawyer or a doctor have a special piece of clothing, routine or route they take that they believe makes them successful. In those stories, suddenly the person can’t use the magic. Eventually, either by getting it back or finding another ritual they’re able to move on. That’s why you need a Plan B. Maybe your Plan B is to write daily. Maybe your Plan B is to skip every third Tuesday. Whatever works — for as long as it works.

Any advice about writing is a suggestion that benefits some people. It’s only worth taking if it works for you. Never allow any writing advice define your identity as a writer.

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