Reading time: Less than 3 minutes
How often do you write? If you’re not a professional your writing habits may be weak and flabby. Here’s why you should write every day…
Here are three things you almost certainly do every day:
- Eat food
- Drink water
And here are three you likely do (or are nagged by others to do):
- Make your bed
- Brush your teeth
- Wash a few dishes, or at least load the dishwasher
But I’m guessing the majority of you don’t write every day. That’s perfectly okay if you have no interest in writing or no responsibility for doing it. But if you relish the thought of becoming a better writer or one who works with more ease and less angst, here’s why you should consider developing the habit of writing every day.
1-Writing daily makes the job easier. If you get more practice at anything — whether it’s exercising, making music, cooking or playing chess — the process starts to become second nature. You don’t have to try as hard and you have more fun.
2-Writing daily will improve the quality of your work. Do something often enough, and you’ll get better at it. If you’re a person for whom writing is difficult, doing it every day will allow you to pick up the tools and techniques to do it better. Several years ago, I recall hearing an interview with singer Tony Bennett (sorry, I’ve been unable to find the source.) He said he practices every day in order to maintain his skill. “If I skip one day, I notice the difference,” he said. “If I skip two, my band notices. If I skip three, the audience notices.”
3-You’ll eliminate the need to make a decision. This might sound funny or inconsequential, but it’s a terribly important benefit of the daily writing habit. Every time you need to make a decision about whether to do something, you tire your brain. This is because we all have very limited amounts of willpower, and this willpower declines as each day goes on, like sand running through an hourglass. But — if you’ve made the global decision that you’re going to write daily — then you don’t have to engage in negotiations with yourself. No more, “can I fit in my writing before lunch?” or “should I do my writing after dinner?” If you’ve already decided that you must do your writing daily, this frees up your mind to deal with other issues — including the subject of the writing you want to do.
4-You’ll inoculate yourself against writer’s block. If you resolve to write every day, you will pretty quickly give up the notion of always writing a blockbuster. Instead of aiming for quality, you’ll be targeting quantity. This is actually more helpful than it might sound because writer’s block is almost always born out of people trying to achieve excellence. Pssst: Here’s the secret all professional writers know: good writing almost never appears during the writing stage. It comes from frequent, diligent and determined editing.
5-It will help you become a better thinker. Writing is only partly about communicating. It’s also about sorting out what you think about an issue. Society tells us that we should write in order to explain or persuade. In fact, it’s just as important — maybe even more so — to write in order to learn what you think.
6-It will give you momentum. If writing is important to your job or — more importantly, to you — then having momentum will make you feel happier and more relaxed. This feeling of happiness will not only wash over into the rest of your life, it will also become a self-perpetuating cycle that will make you feel more comfortable with writing itself and make the process easier.
7-It will allow you to start small. So many people think that in order to write they must designate a minimum of two to four hours to the task. This is completely wrong! Especially if you’re writing every day. Here’s what I suggest: start with five minutes. So what if you can write no more than a sentence? The act of writing that single sentence is a step forward. Do it day after day, week after week and before long you will be accumulating thousands of words. The kaizen technique teaches that we can all make gigantic accomplishments from tiny steps.
In my Get It Done program, I work with writers struggling to finish their dissertations, their non-fiction books and their novels. They must report in to me, five days per week, telling me how many words they wrote each day (or how much time they spent editing.) Occasionally, some of them ask me if they can write every day. I always tell them no, because everyone needs time off. But if any of them want to write something else, or do “morning pages” or keep a journal, I always encourage them to go ahead.
The practice of daily writing is one of the healthiest habits you can acquire.
Do you write every day? Why or why not? We can all learn from each other so, please, share your thoughts with my readers and me in the “comments” section below. Anyone who comments on today’s post (or any others) by Nov. 30/16 will be put in a draw for a copy of Make What You Say Pay by Anne Miller. Please, scroll down to the comments, directly underneath the “related posts” links, below. Note that you don’t have to join the commenting software to post. See here to learn how to post as a guest.