What's up with the writing police?
Experts abound in every field and every expert offers advice from their own world-view. The writing advice most often offered to new writers is:
“You should write every day.”
I hate this kind of writing advice.
To be clear, I’m not saying you shouldn’t write every day -- it’s not the specifics of the writing advice that bothers me in this case, it’s the should.
Any time someone hits me with a should, I want to hit back. That’s their truth, not mine. I’m turned off right away and just not interested. It’s like I have an inner 12-year old who sticks her fingers in her ears and yells NANANANANAH. (She’s a cutie-pie, that girl: red pigtails.)
This kind of writing advice seems to imply that “real” writers write every day, making the rest of us feel like imposters if we can’t get to our desks 365 days of the year. As though the rest of us just have "cute little hobbies."
Assuming best intentions though, the advice to write every day is about staying connected to your writing, both for the current project which demands your focus and attention and for that delicate thread of connection that wires your creativity, providing a jump-start as needed.
I know that connecting copper thread to be very real. When I’m not writing consistently, it’s so much harder to get started again.
But that doesn’t mean I “should” write every day. There have been times in my life – rare, precious times – when I have been able to write every day and I LOVE it. It feels light and free…unless my project isn’t going well and then it feels like I’m handcuffed to a screaming toddler.
And in those times, a bit of distance can be a good thing – a chance to gain some perspective and consider new options for the work at hand.
Some of my best short stories have come when I’ve started a story and then taken a break for a few days, read something by another writer that blew me away and gave me the A-HA I needed to reshape my work into something with more vibrating life.
I know some folks think you can write every day just by switching between projects, and in return I say: Great! You do you.
I do believe in writing consistently. I give careful thought to determine the schedule that works best for me right now, at this specific moment in my life, and then do my very best to stick to it (come what may) until that schedule no longer works and I need to set-up a new one.
This whole writing business is rife with enough challenges as it is, without the added self-flagellation of what I “should” be doing to fit into someone else’s idea of what a “real” writer does.
I’m real, and I write. Consistently and on my own time.
I invite you to try doing the same and see how it feels. But I definitely don’t think you “should.” And that's my best advice.