One of the most frequent pieces of advice out there for writers is that you should write every day. Some sources even go so far as to say that you’re not a writer *unless* you write every day. And I say that’s rubbish.
I’m currently partway through a challenge I set myself to write every day during February, so this is day 21 of writing in a row for me (as I actually started on 31 January) but I don’t feel as if it’s helping me as a writer or even that I’m being generally more productive.
Looking back over my Weeknotes for the past three weeks, I’m not sure I can even claim that all those days are really writing days. I’ve certainly found myself getting towards the end of the day and creating ‘writing’ work for myself, just so that I can tick off another day on my tracker.
And that, to me, doesn’t feel like joyous, creative, real progress on my writing projects. It feels more like a chore that I have to complete, and one that I haven’t really been completing in a genuine way.
I haven’t been particularly motivated with my writing so far this year, it’s true. And I was hoping that this challenge might galvanise me into getting back into the meatier projects more. But it’s actually had the opposite effect. Rather than wanting to get stuck in for a long session on a complex piece of writing, I’ve been fobbing myself off with spending five minutes on a review and declaring myself done for the day.
I’m going on a reading retreat next week – Tuesday to Friday – which would normally mean I wouldn’t do any writing at all. If I do write on those days, I’ll only be doing it to fulfil the requirements of my challenge, and it will impact detrimentally on my time away. So, I’ve decided that I’ll maintain the writing plan for the rest of this week (and possibly Monday), bringing me to a total of 24 or 25 days in a row. And then I’m going to give myself the rest of the week off, so I can dive into my reading on retreat.
I generally find my writing process works best if I schedule three decent sessions a week, preferably out of the flat, though I’m getting better at writing at home. That way, I’m much more likely to get stuck in and make some decent progress. And I also get time for relaxation during the week, without the necessity of writing every day hanging over me.
So, rather than forcing myself to write more than I want to, I’m going to focus in March on getting back into the habit of regular, long sessions, and see how that goes.
And I am a writer. My work has been published in lots of places, and I’ve been paid for it multiple times. I will shortly have a contract with a publisher for my first novel, which has been a major goal for some years now. But, regardless of any of that, I am a writer because I write. Not every day, but I still write, and that makes me a writer, no matter what anyone else might say.