Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Daily vs. When the Feeling Strikes

Spoke this past weekend as a small writers' conference in Lake Charles, Louisiana. As always, I dread going to events like this, then adore it once I'm there. The new friends, the new ideas, the networking . . . all make me go home feeling glorious, proud, motivated, and better connected. Empowered is the best word for it, and we can all use a dose of that every once in a while.

Funny thing is that in a team of six presenters, two of them pretty much used over half my material, and I found myself needing to script a new presentation. Thank goodness we're only talking a 50-minute moment in time. When I kidded the speakers, one of them told me she was a huge fan of my essays and op-eds in FundsforWriters, so she probably just repreached what I'd been teaching her for years. I was hugely flattered, and gladly  commenced to brainstorming for a new angle.

Good thing I was used to coming up with writing ideas every day.

The speech went very well. In the midst of it, I came up with a very simple, logical explanation to writing daily, prompted by the fact I just had to rewrite a speech. I'm a firm believer in picking up my keyboard or pen each and every day, and am constantly chastised by others that's it's not necessary. I will disagree with them until my final days when I quit writing, and these simple experiences should hammer the concept home and explain why.

Do not wait until the time is right to write.

First, your writing is a job, part-time or full-time, if you are trying to earn money at it. Face that. You don't go to work when you feel like it. You go because it's expected of you.


Writing daily is a habit you have to acquire. Most writers do not do it, and ultimately make excuses online about why it's not important. One speaker at the conference even said it was not important. I took issue with that claim. Think about it:
  • Putting Kids to Bed - We train our children into a habit before bedtime. They take a bath, brush their teeth, maybe read a book. We get them accustomed to the routine, so that their little bodies start relaxing, and when they pull the covers up, they are fast headed to slumber. If you do not have this routine, you know how hard it is to make them settle down.
  • Returning to Work After Vacation -  When we take off from the 9-to-5, and stay gone a week or more, we fine it difficult to fit back in when we return. The work is piled up. We have to catch up on what went down in our absence. We have to reread material and remind ourselves what we were doing before we left. All because we took a break. 
  •  Putting Down a Book - We all have books on the nightstand or beside the recliner. When life gets hectic, however, and we go a week or more without picking it back up, we lose our place. We even forget names of characters, or the events that made then act the way they are. So we shuffle back over previous chapters trying to orient ourselves. If we'd kept reading, we'd be oriented.
Not writing daily is a two-step-forward and one-step-back situation. But if you just take, say, fifteen minutes to write each and every day, you do less back stepping, you gain more ground, and you keep moving forward with a firmer mission.

You go to work because it's expected of you. Treat writing the same.

12 comments:

writingwithbothsidesofmybrain said...

Guilty :)

Sioux said...

Hope--This is advice that we're always in need of...

Hope Clark said...

So simple, too.

Jennifer Fitz said...

I think you've uncovered a big question: Is it a business or a hobby?

Since I work with lots of hobbyists, I'm completely okay with people who write for fun when they can, and put it on the back burner when paying work in their usual field takes precedence.

But you're right. If I'm not pulling out the project and working on it, I'm not working on it. No sense kidding myself. :-).

Joy said...

Hope,
You end with the thought--You go to work because it is expected of you. Treat writing the same.
I don't write because it is expected of me. I write because it makes me feel whole. If I don't write, I start to feel stuffed up, like I have a head cold. I get a very antsy feeling in my whole body.
Some months ago I had a friend stop blogging. She said she was drained and worried about giving the copyright of her work away. My mind went through the quick thought process of, if she is quitting for career reasons, am I doing the right thing by continuing with my blog? It took me less time to find an answer than it took to write the question. My writing serves a purpose for me. If it helps someone else, if my writing serves another purpose--that is all the better.
Once, I actually tried not to write, and I could only last 5 days. It was the longest five days of my life.

Hope Clark said...

All of this does make one decide - hobby or profession, even a part-time one. And they are NOT the same. Nothing wrong with being a hobbyist . . . just don't expect the same results as someone who does it deliberating, diligently, on a 9-to-5 basis. The more you do it, the better you get. The less you do it, you get the picture. It's all relative.

Chad Aaron Sayban said...

I agree with you. And even if it is a hobby, if you really enjoy it, I think you need to do it each day just for the joy of doing it. Either way, the habit of doing it even for a few minutes each day is going to get you further than doing it in binges and walking away.

Great post!

Val said...

I'm a hobbyist, but I still write every day. On two different blogs. You're right. The more you do it, the better you get. I can see a huge difference between my early efforts six years ago, and what I presently inflict upon my readers.

louisebroadbentfiction said...

I'm a firm believer that every writer needs to find their own process and that rules like this do not apply to everyone, but you've got me convinced on this one. Write however you want as long as you do it every day!

Hope Clark said...

Whatever you write, it's better if you do it often. Hobby or job, blog or novel, the writing can't get better if it's not exercised!

kristenfeola said...

Thank you for the reminder. Yes, I need to discipline myself to write every day, and I will!

quietspirit said...

This is good information. I have heard others say it isn't necessary, but I have found it is.