If you’re a writer, then you’ve heard it from a hundred different places: you need to write everyday. Stephen King, for example, does it and recommends it. Writers write. It’s what everyone says. Unfortunately, it’s true. There’s no other way around it. If you want to be a writer or are a writer, you need to write as much as possible. Starting now. Why? Well, mostly, because as young writers, we are just not good yet. There are very few teenagers and college-aged writers who are getting book deals and winning literary awards. Look up how old your favorite author was when they published their first book. They were probably in their thirties or forties because most writers don’t hit their stride until they put in the time. If you’re a young writer like me, or maybe much older than me but just starting to write now, you might not feel like you’re any good. That’s okay. That’s why it’s important to practice and put ourselves out there now.
I haven’t been writing daily for very long. I tell people I’ve been writing everyday since the beginning of 2018, but it really didn’t become a consistent practice until May 2018. However I’m leaving 2018 having written a (not very long) novel, eight short stories, and the first 25,000 words of a second novel. This is just my experience, and everyone goes at their own pace; but I thought I’d offer some advice to help you write everyday or maybe just more than you currently do. It’s coming in the form of a list because everyone loves lists. I hope these tips help.
1. Start slow
There are plenty of writers who write over a thousand words a day, but there’s no reason for you to do this right away, especially if this is your first time attempting to write everyday. You’ll likely burn out after a couple of weeks and end up being more discouraged than when you decided to develop this practice. In fact, I recommend never giving yourself a word minimum. They squash my creativity. However, I did give myself a word minimum of 200 words per day for the first few months of 2018 to make sure I was writing while still giving myself the time and space to figure out how and what I wanted to write. Consider giving yourself a small writing goal for the first couple weeks or months. I think you’ll be surprised how quickly you achieve those. If you’re like me, you’ll eventually not need writing goals. Now at the end of 2018, I write anywhere from 500 to 2,000 words a day. However, it’s important to remember everyone is different, and your progress is still progress even if it looks different from mine.
2. Make a list of potential ideas
I especially recommend this if you want to work on writing short stories because once you get into the practice of writing short stories everyday you move through your ideas quickly (I probably could make a whole series of blog posts about novel writing, so I won’t talk about that here right now). One of the hardest parts of writing everyday is coming up with new ideas, so while you’re working on your first story, try to stockpile as many ideas for the future as possible. That way when you finish one story, you can immediately jump into the next story. They don’t have to be very detailed ideas either. Just get some ideas down on paper to get your imagination going later.
3. Write whenever and wherever
As a college student, this is easy for me. I make sure my laptop is in my backpack when I go to campus, so I can write between classes and while waiting for the bus. For others, writing whenever and wherever will look different. Keep the notes app on your phone or a notebook on hand. That way even on your busiest days you’ll still have managed to write a paragraph or two in your free moments. Write for five minutes before bed. Wake up ten minutes early to write. Find the random pockets in your day when you’re wasting time and write instead of scrolling on your phone.
4. Nothing has to be perfect…
Rough drafts are my favorite thing about writing because nothing has to be perfect. I just have to write. That’s it. I find so much joy in getting my first ideas on paper. When I go back to edit and rewrite, I get to tell a story people actually want to read which is pretty awesome too. All of this is to say, writing everyday means you’ll have a lot of rough drafts. Remind yourself of this as many times as you need. Rough drafts are about getting words on paper. They are not ready to be published pieces. In fact, they shouldn’t be, so don’t get hung up on word choice. Just write.
5. …Including yourself
You don’t have to be perfect either. All of this was just a long winded way of saying it’s okay if you miss a day. It’s okay if you miss many days because writer’s block happens to everyone. I miss days all the time, but I don’t let them discourage me. After all, when was the last time you read a book about a perfect character? Probably never because we, as writers, know flawed characters are far more interesting. So be flawed and miss a few days, but don’t stop for good and don’t get discouraged.
I hope these tips help you in your writing pursuits, and I wish you the best of luck in whatever your writing goals are for 2019!