People often assume that the best writers have a natural talent for producing great works on demand. But as anyone does it for a living knows, that’s simply not the case most of the time. Writing is a process and it takes a lot of practice and hard work to stay proficient. That’s why one thing that most of the best writers have in common is that they write every day.
Insights from Writing Giants
The writer of Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White, once said in an interview that he tries not to let his environment interfere with his writing: “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”
Ernest Hemingway and Kurt Vonnegut always wrote early every morning. Today, many prolific writers do the same. They don’t wait for the “right moment” to write, they just write, often early in the morning before other daily tasks take over. When you get into the habit of writing every day, it becomes a part of your routine and strengthens your writing prowess.
You could write for a full seven consecutive hours in one day, but writing for an hour every day of the week is probably a better approach. It strengthens your discipline as a writer and is less likely to lead to burn out. Like physical exercise, frequency – not quantity – is more effective in the long run.
The Many Benefits of Daily Writing
Clears Your Mind
You don’t only have to write pieces that are meant to be published – they can just be fun notes for yourself. The process of writing is a great way to reduce stress and unclog your mind. Once your thoughts are put on the page or screen, you free up your mind to be more creative or be able to focus on new ideas.
The ability to communicate clearly and effectively deteriorates without practice. Writing frequently will improve your vocabulary and the flow of your writing so that you can communicate more concisely.
Makes You More Organized
Developing a writing schedule will help you preserve important writing time. It will also encourage you to streamline your daily schedule to maximize your writing output.
Eliminates Writer’s Block
When we struggle to write, it’s often because we’re afraid of writing badly. This feeling can increase if you haven’t written for a few days. But the trick is to just write – no matter how “badly” – and edit it later. As writer Jodi Picoult said: “You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”
Write for Yourself
The great thing about writing every day is that it doesn’t necessarily have to be for someone else – you can write whatever you want. Here are a few ideas on what you can write for fun.
- The Morning Purge
First thing in the morning, write down anything and everything that comes into your head. Don’t edit as you go, just dump all your thoughts onto the page. It helps to clear your mind, lift your mood and begin your day with a clean slate.
- Love It, Hate It
Pick an object or an activity and write about it from the perspective of absolutely loving it. Then write about it as though you really hate it. For example, write about how much you love television and then write about why you really don’t like it.
- Explore Your Senses
Think of an object and try to describe it using all your five senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. It doesn’t matter if you can’t literally sense it – just use words to best describe the imagined sensation. For example: “The sun’s light burns my eyes. Its light waves smell like burning coals upon my face. When I touch its surface, the heat throbs through my veins, I can hear the dry leaves cracking under its heat and the air around me tastes likes cardboard on my tongue.”
- A Different Perspective
Write from the point of view of a household item, as it “thinks” about its surroundings and existence. Then write a dialogue between yourself and the item.
- Flash Fiction
Write a short story using around 250 words. It must contain a beginning, middle and end – but make every word count. Boil the story down to its essence by removing anything that doesn’t add to the mood, reveal character, advance the plot or make the reader care.
To help you get into the habit of writing daily, remember:
- Commit to it. Once or twice a week is too infrequent to help you form a habit. No excuses, just write something every day!
- Set aside time to write, at a regular time that works best for you.
- Start small. Even 100 words are something. You can always increase the word count over time.
- Eliminate distractions. Put your phone on silent. Close your Internet browser. Just sit down, or stand up, and write.
Keep on Writing
Good writing comes from practice and hard work. Even the greatest writers take years to develop their skills. However, the one thing they all have in common is that they keep on writing, through thick and thin. Day after day.
If you’re struggling with writing, remember that the more you do it, the better you’ll become. Regular writing will not only reduce your fear of the blank page but also help you develop your style and your writing capacity.