And Now For Something Completely Different

"Whipping Tom", detail from the Yale...

Not as helpful as you think it is. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m a big advocate of writing every day.* I like the feeling of momentum, the little everyday push that keeps the machine moving. I like the steady flow of creativity. I like how much shit I get done that way.

But it needs to be said: I like writing every day because it works for me. And it might not work for you.

So, in an effort to present alternatives, I offer you this article:

Why ‘Write Every Day’ Is Bad Advice

I read it during a catch-up-on-articles marathon I had Wednesday morning**.  Now, I disagree with the idea that things like NaNoWriMo ‘trivialize’ artistic endeavour somehow, as if there’s only a finite amount of Art in the world which gets diluted when the unwashed masses get their grubby little paws on it, but there are some valid points. The main one is summed up thus:

Hard scheduling rules — write every day! work on research for one hour each morning! exercise 10 hours a week! — deployed in isolation will lead to procrastination as soon as you start to violate them, which you almost certainly will do.

Deployed in isolation is the operative phrase here. Very little that works in isolation works nearly as well once it gets out into the real world, where it can get mauled by chance, nature, and velociraptors.*** So, your hard rules might sound good, but you should accept from the outset that there will be times when they need to be broken. Then, when they are, it’s not such a big deal. You can work around it. It might be a setback, but, and I really have to emphasize this for all the mad perfectionists in the crowd, it’s not the end of the world. Get past it.

The whole point of rules and schedules for things you want to accomplish is to make you accomplish them, not to flagellate yourself when you slip up. They should be the tool for improvement, not the whip to drive you onwards. And they’re only good if they work for you.

So try different things. Write every day, or don’t write every day–find what works.

*For a given value of ‘every day’. Obviously, there are going to be times when, because of illness, accident, or unexpected velociraptor attack, it just doesn’t happen. But barring those, you’ll find me here at the keyboard.

**Thank god for digital media, or I’d be neck-deep in newspaper clippings, academic articles, and research books.

***Seem to be stuck on velociraptors today. Huh.


6 thoughts on “And Now For Something Completely Different

  1. Funny, I just posted about this notion of writing everyday. I’ve found that it works for me, but it’s good to note, like you did, that life gets in the way…or velociraptors. For me, the key is just to hop back in as quickly as I can. The longer I wait, the greater the resistance to get back in the habit.. and then one month later comes the realization that I haven’t written shit and now I’m REALLY behind the eight-ball.

  2. The topic of writing every day (or not) has been on my mind for months. Been writing a novel along with just getting by! Sometimes the two conflict with one another. Do I say screw it to my growling stomach and write total shit? Nay! Do I pick yet another delicious banquet over pumping out three gorgeous pages? Err…nay! Nay!! Ah, the life of an artist.

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