Why should I write every day?
The only way to get better at writing is to write more. If you’ve been writing for any amount of time, you know how painful looking back at any earlier pieces is. (Heck, even when editing your own work you may recognize that agonizing feeling.)
You’ve decided you want (need) to get better at writing. You also would like to see results – to have a record of your writing getting better. Conclusion? Write every day.
If you want to actually finish that novel, you need to create and maintain momentum. You know if you tried you could find time to write it. And you have a lot of writing to get through. Best way to get through it? Write every day.
You know you have a terrible memory. So does your phone (seriously, why do they even make 16 GB phones anymore?), or you would take more pictures to help you remember. Writing expressively every day has been proven to have incredible health benefits, and will help remind you of the things you’d otherwise forget. Write every day.
Writing every day expands your brainpower. A healthy mind rewrites your body to be more healthy. So whether you write poetically, creatively, or expressively, writing every day can improve your quality of life.
I’ve borrowed some of these compelling reasons to write every day from ZenHabits.
- Your typing/handwriting speed and accuracy increase.
- You learn how to write persuasively/cohesively/cogently.
- Writing clears your thinking and enables you to communicate better.
- You teach yourself how to deal with failure and perfectionism.
- You teach yourself discipline.
Cal Newport would beg to differ. The challenge with writing every day is how poorly humans react when they miss a day. For him, the loss of momentum is so great that he thinks writing every day is a waste. His conclusion to get better at writing?
Write often, be aggressive in pursuing your goals, and incorporate grace and flexibility in your writing. This leads us to the next important question…
How much should I write every day?
There’s no right answer. Maybe you should do a minimum of 750 words a day. Maybe 3 lines in your notebook is enough. Maybe you should fill a page. Or 3 pages.
Stephen King is notorious for his rigorous methods of writing every day, but that doesn’t mean you need to be so hard on yourself.
You don’t have to write a lot to get better, as Jeff Goins says. You just have to write often. And it all comes down to a simple question.
How much time do you have to write?
You probably have a different amount of time each day. Write until you’re out of time. I have class at 9:00 this semester. If I wake up earlier, I have more time to write in the morning. If it takes me longer to make breakfast than usual, I have less time.
Choose a time of day to write. Write until you have to do something else. That’s how much you, as a real person with a real life, should write every day.
Now if you want to be a blogger or writer, you might want to choose to make time to write more. But until then, I strongly suggest you write as long as you can. Stop when you need to.
I used to journal daily through high school. I wrote to take my daily frustrations and put them through different lenses and perspectives. In doing so I learned how to look at problems from many different angles. Some entries only needed 3 sentences. Some entries went on for pages.
Writing habitually comes with a goal. I wrote a poem every morning for years in order to help me manage my emotions. In doing so I became good at spontaneously rhyming. What you write will be closely aligned with your goal, and will come with cool side effects.
What I’m trying to share is that it doesn’t matter how much you write every day. The more important aspect is writing something every day.
What should I write every day?
Write what will help you achieve your goals. Here’s a list of some things you might want to write and why you might want to write them.
- Flashfiction. Writing stories that are super short will help you learn the core things that you find important in stories. Flash fiction will also teach you how to communicate precisely and succinctly.
- Fiction. Work on your novel. Or a short story. Or a series of short stories. You might want to write fiction to help exercise your creative muscles and work through hypothetical life scenarios.
- Poetry. Practicing rhyme and rhythm is especially helpful for songwriters. Poetry is the most diverse writing tool: you can write an essay, a story, express your feelings, or just practice using words cleverly. Working on these kinds of tasks in poetic form can inspire you to be more creative with how you express your ideas.
- Journaling. Keep a record of your life. Write through your thoughts, ideas, and problems. My favorite way to journal is to write letters to my future self, to other people, or to God. Writing out strong emotions allows you to express those emotions more appropriately in the rest of your life.
- Exercises. Practice new vocabulary. Work on writing in different points of view. Free write. If you do writing exercises every day, you will be able to teach yourself a slew of new skills that can assist your everyday, real-life skills.
- Blog. While you can blog about anything (or use a blog to host all of your other writings), blogging as a tool to help others solve a problem you’ve worked through teaches you how to explain things logically and in sufficient detail.
Did I miss anything?
How can I get in the habit of writing every day?
And now for the real challenge: training yourself to actually write every day.
If you’d like a super in-depth guide, try Robbie Blair’s 14 Steps. But I suspect you probably already know the gist of habit-making. So I’ll re-summarize for you here.
- Decide what you want to write every day. What are your writing goals? Use the above section to help decide on what form you’d like to try writing every day.
- Come up with a plan. When can you make time to write? If that time falls through, do you have a backup time? Are you going to write by hand or type it up on the computer (or your phone)?
- Incorporate grace and flexibility. Before you miss a day or only get to write out a single sentence, decide how you’re going to handle failing. This will help you to get back up and keep writing the next day.
- Try it out. Just do it! In your planning, commit to how long you want to try writing every day. Focus on finishing out your commitment.
- Decide if it’s for you. If you tried writing a poem every day for 3 weeks, at the end of that time evaluate your writing. Have you enjoyed writing poems every day? Has it benefited your life? Do you want to continue with poems, or try writing something else?
Writing every day might not be for you. But before you write it off (hehe), make sure you try it on for size.
Do you write every day? What were some of the hardest things you faced when you tried to start writing every day? What advice would you give to people who aren’t sure if writing every day is for them?