Do you really need to write every day?

I’ve never been able to write every day. I’ve tried. And when I fell back into my pattern of writing only when I find the time, I’ve beaten myself up for lack of discipline, or commitment. Sigh. But after a year of working on a new story that just didn’t go anywhere, and then starting another, and my editor and agent gently asking when I’ll have something new, I knew that I had to buckle down.

Once again, I set out to write every day. Starting on day one, I wrote for anywhere from two to eight hours. There were moments when I’d feel jittery if I was away from the computer, as if writing had become intoxicating. It was both scary and exhilarating, because I was getting a lot done. At the beginning of week three though, I was beginning to feel drained. My husband expressed concern that I might be drifting into depression. I needed a break. That was Tuesday.

On Wednesday, I spent most of the day cleaning the house, and my office, which had begun to look like a garbage dump.

On Thursday, a photographer for The Record came to the house to take what I thought was just ONE picture for an article I’ll be in. Turns out he also wanted a video interview. No one told me! It took about an hour, then I spent the rest of the day panicking about it. No possibility to get any work done.

On Friday, my husband and I decided to do some repainting in the house. It was a pretty big job. We finished sometime on Saturday afternoon. No writing time.

This is what relaxation looks like!

This is what relaxation looks like!

Late Saturday afternoon we drove upstate to enjoy July 4th fireworks with friends. But on the drive back home I realized how relaxed I felt, how ideas about the story, and things that needed to be fixed came to me without my feeling jittery and need to sit in front of the computer, how I could make mental notes, and hold on to them days later. Today is Sunday. I am not working today. a) It’s Sunday. b) My body is still exhausted from painting for two days.

But tomorrow, I will get back to work, secure in the knowledge that the ideas that came to me during this relaxing week are still there for me to use, and feeling much better about writing and getting to the end of this story.

So all of that to say, you don’t have to write every day. At least I don’t. I can’t. And I can finally let go of the guilt of feeling like I should.

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6 thoughts on “Do you really need to write every day?

  1. lynettedavis says:

    I don’t write every day either. On the days that I don’ write, ideas on how to develop my story come to me out of nowhere. I’m not so sure we have to write every day either.

  2. Brenda Whiteman says:

    Keep up the great work! I don’t write every day either. Life gets in the way. I think about writing almost every day. Ideas spring up and I try to jot them down. I think I am becoming more disciplined, so that’s a good thing. Glad you had a great Fourth of July weekend. My family and I did, also. — Brenda

  3. marielamba says:

    What? You stopped writing for a minute???

    Seriously, even your faithful agent thinks you gotta take those breaks and live. I spent 5 hours on Saturday working on a PUZZLE. And I don’t feel guilty at all… Just relaxed and better.

    🙂

  4. Tracey says:

    @Marie: I love puzzles! And coloring books. Need to do those more often. Did I tell you that I picked up one of those adult coloring books at BEA? It is awesome.
    @Muse: I guess a lot of us really do feel that the write-every-day myth is not working for us.

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