Is a Daily Writing Routine Right for You?
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“Real writers write every day.”
Unfortunately, that’s a sentiment you’ll often hear in the writing world, and for a time, I subscribed to it myself. And while I still maintain a daily writing routine, I regret the days I spent telling other writers they should to do the same.
Every writer’s process is unique, and what works for one—or even many—isn’t guaranteed to work for you. And that’s okay! The important thing is to find the writing techniques that work best with your time, your skills, and your stories. Unsure if a daily writing routine would be a good fit for your writing process?
Allow me to share the pros and cons of my own experience with a daily writing routine today!
How I Built My Daily Writing Routine...
I’m far more of a storyteller than a writer. I enjoy plotting, creating characters, world-building, and the like, but the actual process of writing the dang thing is often like pulling teeth for me. And because of that, I’m prone to procrastinating my work.
A few years ago, my writing life was a mess because of this procrastination. I wouldn’t write for weeks at a time, until I grew so frustrated with my lack of productivity that I’d practically hurl myself into the work. Obviously, working with such intensity wasn’t exactly sustainable, and I often exhausted all of my creativity energy and motivation during these times.
I wouldn’t write again for weeks, and so the cycle repeated.
I knew I needed to find a way to stop procrastinating my work, to instead spread my creative energy out throughout the week, but I didn’t know where to start. That’s when I found Faye Kirwin’s Write Chain Challenge, a 30-day course designed to help you build a daily writing routine.
The course itself runs off the principal of a daily minimum. Every day, you must meet your daily minimum writing goal in order to add a link to your Write Chain. Fail to earn your daily link, and you break your chain and must start over.
This challenge seemed like the perfect way to revolutionize my messy writing life, and in February 2015, I began adding links to my Write Chain. After nearly three years of daily writing, I hit my 1,000th daily link earlier this month. One thousand days!
Never in a million years would I have thought I could work on my writing for so many days in a row. But the practice wasn’t always easy, and it certainly wasn’t perfect…
The Downfalls of a Daily Writing Routine
Writing every day isn’t the perfect fix-all for any issues you may be facing in your writing life. It won’t validate you as a writer, nor will it automatically improve your writing or storytelling skills. It won’t even ensure you make solid progress toward your writing goals.
Here are some of the main downfalls you should keep in mind when considering a daily writing routine:
Downfall #1: It’s difficult to maintain.
Let’s face it; life is messy. And when in the thick of that mess, maintaining a daily writing routine can be more than a little difficult. On days when you’re sick or traveling, when you’re schedule is insane, or when you’re going through a period of hardship or grief, maintaining your daily writing routine isn’t always feasible.
And if you’re not careful, it can lead you to our next downfall…
Downfall #2: It can make self-care difficult.
When life gets messy and you struggle to reach your daily writing goal, that struggle can quickly lead to feelings of doubt and guilt. “Am I good enough to be a writer? Why can’t I just get my crap together? Ugh, I suck at this.”
But life is all about balance, and that balance applies to your creative life as well. You need periods of creation and periods of rest, periods of inspiration and of disconnect. Most importantly, you need to give yourself grace when life gets in the way of your creative productivity. Unfortunately, a daily writing routine doesn’t always allow for this.
Downfall #3: It won’t work with every writer’s creative process.
A fellow writer once told me they were frustrated by their inability to maintain a daily writing routine. Like many writers, they led a busy life that didn’t always allow for large periods of writing time.
But unlike some writers, they found it exceptionally difficult to write in small pockets of time. They needed at least a good 15 minutes to find their groove, let alone to create work they were proud of—and trying to maintain a daily writing routine when they could only eke out a few long writing sessions each week just wasn’t working.
If this sounds at all similar to your writing process, a daily writing routine may not work for you.
These downfalls may seem pretty steep, but just as there are downfalls to maintaining a daily writing routine, they are some pretty awesome benefits, too. More on those next!
The Benefits of a Daily Writing Routine
For some writers, the benefits of a daily writing routine will outweigh the downfalls. This was certainly the case for me, and the following are some of the biggest benefits I found in maintaining a daily practice.
Benefit #1: Writing becomes second nature.
Perhaps the most obvious benefit of a daily writing routine is its consistency. The act of working on your manuscript daily can help writing become an integral and ingrained activity in your daily schedule, something you actually do rather than think about doing.
Benefit #2: Progress becomes apparent.
Another wonderful benefit of a daily writing routine is the visible and consistent progress you will make on your projects if you apply yourself appropriately. So long as you’re treating your daily writing with purpose and respect (rather than grudgingly hashing out your daily minimum), you’ll make excellent progress toward reaching your next writing goal.
And, more often than not, seeing that progress also helps build the motivation to keep pushing forward. Hurray!
Benefit #3: Goodbye, procrastination!
Do you often procrastinate certain elements of the writing process? For me, that element is drafting. I’d rather pre-write or edit any day. Fortunately, maintaining a daily writing routine helps me push past my lack of enthusiasm and get the work done so I can keep moving forward with the projects I love.
Benefit #4: Practice makes improvement.
There’s nothing better than looking back on your old work and seeing just how far you’ve come. Writing daily means improving daily. With such consistent practice, you’ll see your writing and storytelling skills improve like never before.
Now that we’ve laid out the pros and cons, do you find a daily writing routine still piques your interest? I always encourage every writer to try out a daily practice at least once in their writing life. While writing daily may not be the right choice for your creative process, it’s worth exploring if you’re unsure. Remember, you can always quit if its not working out.
But if you’re hesitating to commit despite your interest, it’s likely that doubts about your own ability—rather than your schedule or writing process—are holding you back. So, conquer your fear of failure. Give daily writing a try!
Tips for Building A Daily Writing Routine
Are you ready to give daily writing a go? Below are some tips + tricks for creating a daily writing practice that will leave you feeling fulfilled rather than overwhelmed:
Tip #1: Select a daily minimum for your practice.
Avoid overwhelm with your daily writing routine by choosing to work to a daily minimum. My personal minimum is 200 words written or 10 minutes of related work completed, such as editing, researching, planning, and so on.
If you feel like working beyond this minimum, you absolutely can. But reaching this daily minimum will ensure that you’ve made some measure of progress and put your best foot forward for the day, even when you don’t have much to give.
If you do set a daily minimum, you may also wish to set an aim for each individual writing session. My personal aim for December is to write for one hour every day, which has encouraged me to carve out time to put in my best work. So far, so good!
Tip #2: Have various activities ready to go.
You won’t always have the energy or the focus to complete those parts of the writing process that you just don't enjoy, which is why I suggest having various related writing activities in mind that can also count toward your daily minimum. I personally include editing, researching, planning, and preparing to querying as activities that count toward my daily writing routine.
You could also include spending time in online writing communities, creating story boards, working on an alternative creative project, or even reading. (Keep in mind, a daily creative routine is just as rewarding as a daily writing practice—while also being a bit less strict!)
Tip #3: Don’t count your writing streak.
At first, counting the number of days you’ve written can be exciting and rewarding. But after a while, measuring this number can lead more to unnecessary pressure than motivation—at least in my own experience.
After reaching my 1,000-day writing streak, I decided to call it quits on tracking how many days in a row I’ve written. This way, if I do have a day in which I’m ill or traveling, etc., I can skip my daily writing and simply pick up again the next day. No streaks ruined, no unnecessary guilt trips.
Finally, I’d like to encourage you to keep with it. The first thirty days of my daily writing routine were the hardest. I was stretching all of my creative muscles. But after the first month, I began to get stronger. It wasn’t long before taking a few minutes to write simply became a part of my daily routine, and it can for you, too.
But most importantly, if a daily writing routine doesn’t work out for you, don’t listen to those who would tell you that you aren’t a proper writer. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. It truly as simple as that. So, go forth and conquer, my friend!