Time Tips on Writing
Charlotte Rains Dixon  

Should You Write Every Day?

HappywritingI was at a gathering of writers last night (Portlanders, we meet every last Monday of the month for Literary Libations, join us) and Angela Sanders, an accomplished mystery writer who is doing very well with her books (can you say number one on all Kindle sales?) was talking about her career.

Angela talked about how she does very little social media, sends one newsletter out a month (subscribe here, its definitely worth it), and beyond that, "I write every day."

Because–that's the most important thing.


As often as humanly possible.

And yes, while writing in a journal, or writing a blog post, or ad copy for your next class, or whatever, is all terribly important, when we talk about writing every day, we're talking about writing on that project of yours.  You know the one–the novel that keeps you awake at night.  The one where the characters keep doing things that delight you.  The one you have in your head.  Or hopefully in a collection of notes carefully stored somewhere.

So, how important is it to write every day?

Well, I think its every thing.  Every damn thing.  I do.  I believe that writing every day is what we should all strive for.

But people scowl at me when I say this.  They throw things, like rotten apples, at me.  They yell and scream.  Okay, maybe they don't really, but I can see by the look in their eyes that they are wishing they could.  Because they really don't want to write every freaking day.

And that is what it really boils down to.  Whether or not you actually want to write.

I'm sorry, but that's the plain, hard truth of the matter.  (And for the record, I'm lecturing myself here as much as anybody.)  Once, years ago, I read something that bears on this.  I believe it was in a Julia Cameron book.  She said something to the effect that if a man is in love with you, no matter if he's the busiest executive in the world, he'll find time to call you.

So, ahem.  If you're in love with your writing (and you should be) you will freaking find time to do it, even a little, even if you're just thinking about it, every day.

And here's a little tip to help you do it every day:

At the above-mentioned Happy Hour wherein we discussed every aspect of writing, one of my most favorite writers (and human beings) in the whole world piped up and said she'd been writing every day.  

Gasp.  This required a huge gulp of wine to process.  Because Jenni, (who is likely reading this and rolling her eyes) has not written for months.  This has been the cause of much consternation and hand-wringing between my biz partner Debbie and I, because Jenni is a damn good writer, writing a really fun mystery.

So to hear her announce that she was now writing regularly again was amazing.  And we found out her secret, which is…..

Write for ten minutes a day.

C'mon, everyone can find ten minutes.  And the bigger trick to this is that once you start writing, you often look up and realize that an hour, not ten minutes has gone by and you've really not felt like stopping.

So, the moral of the story is that, yes, I do think every one should write every day if at all possible and that really, everything will fall into place for us all if we just write as often as possible.  

Please share what you think in the comments!

Image by Jem.

0 thoughts on “Should You Write Every Day?

  1. Dyoung

    You’re right. All points on mark. The 10 minutes turning to an hour, easy being exactly what happens to me.

    There really are no acceptable excuses. Excuses are fear trying to be tough.

  2. Charlotte Dixon

    Damn, that was a great quote: "Excuses are fear trying to be tough."  Love it!

  3. Zan Marie

    Sigh! Was working on the words everyday then Real Life got really Real. Will get back to work now. ;-)

  4. Charlotte Dixon

    Hope all is well!

  5. Jenna

    For me, it’s not that I don’t have time to start, it’s that I don’t have time to stop! What I mean by that is I know once I get going, I don’t want to leave in the middle of writing to get back to my real job or whatever I need to be doing instead. So I don’t start at all and just hold on to my idea, not letting it flesh itself out until I have a flexible block of time to work in. Unfortunately, that doesn’t come often. ;)

  6. Angie Dixon

    Abso-dam-lutely. Every day. It’s a must, as far as I’m concerned.

    And here’s the thing. It’s not really about the writing.

    I mean, yeah, sure, when I write I progress on a project.

    But if I go more than a few hours into my day without writing SOMETHING, I’m a bear. A very miserable bear. I NEED to write.

    And it’s not always on my latest book, either.

    Right now I’m behind on a book deadline, I have several resume orders (I freelance part-time as a resume writer) and I just got assigned a KILLER magazine article by my dream magazine.

    Yesterday I started the day working on my book, and worked on the other projects in the afternoon.

    Today I started with an easy resume project and a LinkedIn profile for another client, because I just wasn’t wide enough awake to work on my book.

    And it’s all writing. Whether I’m writing in my journal, of which I don’t actually keep one, or writing a resume, or writing on my book project.

    Yes, ideally I spend at least 10 minutes a day working on something related to *my actual writing career*. And most days I do. In fact, on Saturday and Sunday I’m only allowed to write career-related stuff unless there’s something urgent. Then I have to write career-related stuff FIRST. But I hardly ever work other than that on the weekend.

    Most days I do write career-related stuff, even if it’s just a couple of paragraphs or an outline.

    But some days I’ve got five resumes stacked up and the article is due by the end of the day and I just write what’s gotta be written.

    But I do that every. damn. day.

  7. Charlotte Dixon

    You make a really good point.  I've had that experience, too.  Once I get going, I go so deep into my fictional world that I have a hard time coming back.  And I know in the past this has stopped me from writing.  But I don't want it to stop you!  I think, with a bit of training yourself, you could get to a place where you were able to throw words at the page for a few minutes and then stop.  Because I know for a fact that the long expanse of time rarely comes!

  8. Charlotte Dixon

    I loved reading about your day and all your projects–you're living the dream!  And I'd say I'm fairly similar, in that I write a variety of stuff, and every day you'll find me writing something.  I do my best to start out my day by working on my current novel, though, and that sets me up for everything else.  Can you share what your dream assignment for dream magazine is?  I'm excited for you!  Every once in awhile I think I'd like to get back into magazine writing….

  9. Jenni Gainsborough

    This is kind and gentle Charlotte’s version of shaming! Now you’ve told the world I am writing again and said all those nice things about me, I have to keep going. Thanks for that push and for the generous words! You didn’t mention that the 10 minutes a day plan was put forward at a great workshop Charlotte and Debbie recently held — one of the many excellent ideas put forward that day. And Angie your process and product are always an inspiration.

  10. Maggie

    I write every day but not always on the weekends. But I’m always thinking of my writing and I come up with my best ideas when I’m walking or driving. Great post, Charlotte.

  11. Charlotte Dixon

    Oh Jenni, I love you so much!  I didn't think of this as shaming; rather celebrating.  But if it works to keep you writing, I'm all for it.  And thank you for your kind words about our workshop–we had a lot of fun!

  12. Charlotte Dixon

    I do love driving for coming up with ideas.  I used to always have to have music on, but now I prefer the quiet–probably because I like to let myself think.  Thanks for reading and commenting!

  13. J.D.

    I prefer the Libating Literaries. Maybe Faulkner drank to puff up his nerve. If he did, God bless him. I must have a clear head. Ten minutes–I got that. One of my playlist on YouTube is titled “Got 15 minutes.” I try to keep songs in there for when I need a quick music fix. Fiteen minutes. Lately, I’ve had no problem reserving 10 mins for writing. When I do it often enough, I picture other activities as intrusions.

  14. Charlotte Dixon

    You reliably have an interesting take on all things writing, J.D.  Thank you.  

  15. Jenni Gainsborough

    On further reflection, I think one of the reasons the “10 minute write” works for me is that it takes off the pressure to write something good. I can just get some words down there to fulfill my promise to myself to write. Then if it happens that I write for longer than 10 minutes, and if what I have written turns out to be worth keeping, those are just bonuses!

  16. Charlotte Dixon

    Love that. And it is so important to remember to take the pressure to be good off ourselves. Very helpful, Jenni, and thanks for being a good sport about me writing about you. I’m just SO happy you are writing again!

  17. Maggie

    I’m intrigued by what you wrote about Angela Sanders (and just downloaded The Lanvin Murders). How does she do so well with a limited platform? Great publicist, perhaps? I’d love to know her secret(s)? I feel like I spend a lot of time spinning my wheels on social media!

  18. Charlotte Dixon

    She doesn't even have a publicist, as far as I know.  I think she has a great niche and beyond that I don't know!  I'll have to pick her brains next time I see her!  Maybe I'll get her to write a guest post….

  19. Jenni Gainsborough

    I feel like the prodigal son (or daughter)!

  20. Charlotte Dixon

    You should!

  21. Amanda Michelle Moon

    2 weeks ago I was watching a video of the Right Brain Business Summit (highly recommend checking out if you’ve never heard of it) and one of the speakers said that you need to do your creative work just 15 minutes a day, FIRST THING IN THE MORNING (no email, no internet, to TV, no radio) and miracles will happen (or something like that. I’m paraphrasing.) Chris was gone for the week, and I hadn’t really done much of any writing because of the kids. So, the next day, I started. I didn’t get up earlier, I just let the kids watch 15 minutes of TV before breakfast and started on a character sketch for my new book. 2 weeks in, I’ve got CHAPTERS written for this new book that I’ve been mulling for a little over a year. I’m waking up knowing what I’m going to write. (And the kids are trained now too.) Last night I had my first book dream, in which I became the story’s main female character (even got to kiss the male lead. Good dream!) It’s pretty awesome. And totally true you can train your creativity if you show up and expect it at the same time every day.

  22. Amanda Michelle Moon

    I wrote my entire first book on the light rail and on 15 minute breaks at work. Before that, I only wrote if I had a full 3 hours to devote. I’m not sure what changed my mind, but it totally works.

  23. Amanda Michelle Moon

    oh! and I have to add– for the first week, my sketches that are now scenes all started from your tumblr prompts.

  24. Maggie

    Thank you. I’m absolutely interested in anything Angela can share.

  25. Charlotte Dixon

    Love this!  It sounds like miracles really did happen for you!  I do try so hard to do this…but I will admit that I sometimes let the internet get in my way first.  Going to redouble my efforts now that I've read this!

  26. Charlotte Dixon

    That makes me so happy!  Thanks for letting me know.

  27. Charlotte Dixon

    She'll be thrilled that everyone is so interested in how she did it!

  28. Angie Dixon

    Hey, Charlotte.

    I haven’t been by because I’m trying to finish up my damn book that’s due in 29 days :(

    But the dream magazine is EContent. I used to do a lot of marketing and content writing and I read EContent all the time. I’m working on my second article for them. My first was a piece on responsive design, of which you now know something. You might have your VA look up my article on EContent because it’s about image compression and she might find it useful. It’s got my byline and is something like Is Responsive Design Driving Your Readers Away? It might be visitors and not readers.

    The current assignemnt is for the PRINT magazine. I dance every time I think about it. It’s on the Pangea Alliance, an advertising initiative created by a group of media companies. It’s pretty interesting.

    I like techie stuff, and I love knowing what’s going on with content marketing before anyone else, because as a writer I’m still a content marketer.

    Oh, and I am setting up a new website design as well. I’m moving to AngieDixon.rocks. Because I can, and it’s funny. I’ll be pointing AngieDixon.com to it so that everyone ends up on AngieDixon.rocks. Where they should be :)

    I’m also working on a course I want to talk to you about, so maybe one of us will remember if I tell you now.

  29. Charlotte Dixon

    Oh wow, so many interesting things in this comment I don't even know where to begin.  Thanks for taking time out from your deadline to drop back in.  I will check out that magazine–and have my VA do so, too.  Funny that you happened to be writing an article about responsive design! Drop me an email at charlotte@charlotterainsdixon.com when you have a chance if you want to talk about a course!

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