There’s a lot of advice out there that says if you want to be a writer, you should write every day.
Firstly, any advice that uses the word ‘should’ is advice I disregard.
Secondly, writing every day does not work for me. Early on in my writing journey I got trapped into thinking that because I didn’t write every day I wasn’t a proper writer (whatever one of those is).
The cycle went something like this.
- I want to be a proper writer, so I will write every day.
- I write every day for several days.
- Life happens in the form of numerous children with a vomiting bug, the list of fiddly little jobs is now too long to ignore, the washing mountain is about to fall and kill people, it turns out that today is a day that my brain refuses to boot up.
- I don’t write.
- I feel guilt.
- I don’t write.
- Loop numbers 5-6 until I decide to try again. Fresh slate. Return to number 1 feeling a bit worse for wear.
I find that the writing cycle is different – it has phases of intense drafting, times when nothing is committed to paper (or hard drive) but plenty is being thought about, times I read a huge amount, whole weeks where I read nothing at all, some weeks of steady editing followed by a month of despair that I’ll never find a story worth telling again. There are dizzying highs and dark lows. And this is all without the added guilt about not writing every day. Some days there is simply nothing to say, or no time to say it. Why should guilt be attached to that?
I often don’t write in school holidays, but I read a massive amount. During term time I write and edit more, but read a lot less. If I finish a project, I try to take time to replenish my reserves – go out, meet up with friends, read, go places – basically live a life rather than write about one. And I am positively fighting off the guilt – there’s enough stress in life without adding another. Your writing will still be there when you come back to it, so if you’re having a bad time, write if you want to or not if you don’t. Banish guilt, be kind to yourself, find out what works for you and do that.