There are a few bits of advice you’ve probably heard over and over. One of those is probably: you should Write Every Day. To do it right, aim for 1,000 words (or whatever arbitrary number your hero of choice advocates).
Sorry, not sorry.
I don’t have a set time of day, or duration, or target word count. I know! It’s criminal. But, somehow, I’ve managed to put out a post every single day since this blog started. (Yeah, I know it hasn’t been up for ages. It’s still more tenacious than my writing has ever been, and I choose to be happy about that. Recognize the wins, not just the losses.)
When I can write, I write until I start to lose interest. That might mean I finish one to five posts, and then schedule them to publish on days when I know I’ll be busy. Sometimes I pop in over lunch, or on my phone while we’re driving somewhere. But I don’t make myself guilty over missing a day, or not getting enough done, because I know it’s all going to even out in the end.
I’m still moving forward.
And then, because I left in a good mood, I want to come back. I crave more, especially while that idea in my brain is shiny and new. That’s a good thing. You’ve heard “always leave the reader wanting more.” Why wouldn’t that also apply to us, the writers?
I used to leave my laptop thoroughly disgusted with my lack of progress, and then when it was “time to write” again I would just glare at it until I sat down in defeat. What a horrible mindset to do creative work in!
So sure, just write. But to do that, I have to enjoy the time when I’m not writing, too. I still want to be more than a writer.
Taking a step back, it makes more sense to me this way. When I was learning music I practiced when I felt like it. In the first month it was probably a billion times. In the second month it might have been ten times. No one pressured me – I just kept listening to my heroes and wanted to be like them, like we all do with our author idols. By junior high, I was practicing daily because I enjoyed it.
I wasn’t trying to be someone famous. It was relaxing to go through the motions of the scales and exercises, or race yesterday’s time/accuracy count, or whatever the game of the day was. I found a way to make the tedious things fun, so I didn’t feel the desire to give up.
That’s the power of listening to our frustrations and dealing with them honestly. As long as we don’t give up, and we don’t ruin our engagement with arbitrary word counts and deadlines, we’re moving in the right direction.