If you get online, you’ll see this kind of advice: ‘you’re only a real writer if your write every day.’ Is this a real thing or bullshit gatekeeping? What do you think?
Only Write Every Day If You Want To
First off, why would you let some random schmoe decide you are or are not a writer based on habits he himself probably doesn’t have? Who the fuck is that guy? Nobody. Treat him like it.
I’m tired of unworthy gatekeepers. Gatekeepers in general, actually. Do you write? At all? Do you want to make a lifelong craft of it and get better with every day? Then you’re a writer, and screw anyone who says otherwise.
You do NOT have to write every day to call yourself a writer. If you’re a financially-independent hermit then, yes, I would expect a great deal of output from you. Thousands of words a day. But you live in the real world with the rest of us, and your families, and your 9-to-5 jobs, and your obligations to others that all of us have. So give yourself a break, and don’t pressure yourself to write every day.
And don’t listen to random schmoes on the the internet. In case you’re wondering, I’m no random schmoe, I’m a very definite schmoe.
Make A Schedule And Keep It
What does that mean, if it doesn’t mean every day? If you’ve set yourself a goal of writing, say, every other day, then honor your commitment to yourself and try very hard to keep that schedule. Every other day. Or every Saturday at 10 AM, or M-W-F at 8 PM. Whatever works for you.
But keep your schedule. It’s like going to the gym, people have different schedules than their neighbors because their lives are their own, but the people who are a success at working out make a point of adhering to their schedules. Life happens to everyone, and sometimes your schedule gets interrupted. But you can’t let life keep interrupting your schedule, or it’s not a schedule at all. Right? You can miss a day, but don’t make a habit of it.
In other words, don’t skip twice.
You want to write every day? Knock yourself out. But don’t say you’re going to write every day and then only get three days a week. That’s just lying to yourself and setting yourself up for disappointment and failure. Set a reasonable goal and stick to it. You can always increase your goal later.
Word Counts – It’s A Trap!
You’ll sometimes hear ‘you have to write at least 500 words a day, or you’re not a real writer.’ Says who? The writing police?
Daily word counts are a trap, don’t fall for them. If you’re not under contract, if you don’t have a deadline, then your output is a big ol’ bag of nobody else’s business. If you tell yourself you have to write 500 words a day, when you don’t make that goal – and you won’t – then you’re setting yourself up for disappointment again.
A better goal than word count would be a scene. That’s what works for me. I need to finish this scene right here. That’s it. It can take me half an hour, it can take me three hours, or two days. Whatever. But my goals tend to be story elements, blocks that constitute a beginning, middle, and end. Arbitrary word counts don’t do it for me. Concrete progress towards a finished product rocks my world.