Hello favorite booknerds! If you follow me on Instagram, you saw I recently did a road trip through Oregon with the husband. It was technically for his 30th birthday (which was in June) but he’s been really craving some fall foliage so we pushed the trip back. Now, what does that trip have to do with me/this blog/my writing? It actually ties into the question/pressure of writing every day and the importance of recharging through disconnecting. Allow me to explain.
A lot of big name authors as well as “how to” books on writing and publishing will say you have to write every day, or that you really, really should write every day, because you can’t refine a blank page. And that’s true, you can’t edit or make a blank page better, so forcing yourself to write even when you’re fairly positive the content isn’t where you want it to be, at least gets you moving in that direction. Solid advice, right? Well, yes, usually. Waiting to write only when you “feel inspired” is not the best way to go about things in my opinion. Inspiration can be like lightning, sure, but more often that’s used as a feel-good excuse for writers block, which is something I just have to work through by writing (I’ll cover that in another blog post). However, there is SO MUCH MORE that goes into a book than just the physical act of writing, and those things take time and deserve just as much attention as well.
Some days, writing just isn’t possible or feasible, as the story I am thinking up is just this conglomeration of interesting ideas and hooks, but no real plot. So I need those days to research, I need those days to think. It’s hard to impress on people how hard that step can be sometimes, because there’s not much to show for your effort. But creating an entire world with its conflicts and its people is very hard, especially if you don’t want to do a retelling of another story. Some of those days are spent in a library, but not all of them. Sometimes, at least for me, the best way to break through that clutter of trying to figure out where to start, is by disconnecting from my computer, and going somewhere new. That gives my brain new data to incorporate when I start thinking about work again. I get all this new sensory information and meet so many new characters--I mean people, that the act of recharging and NOT writing actually makes the physical act of writing all the better once I get back in front of my computer.
Then there are some days where I’ve written a bunch, and now I need to make sure where I’m at in the story still makes sense from where I first started. Some people won’t edit any of their work until they are done writing that first draft, I don’t really work that way. As someone who doesn’t do extensive outlines (they make me bored for the story I want to write, and no one wants that) sometimes I just need to go back and reread things I’ve previously written and massage those sections before being able to move forward. I’m not necessarily writing new words, and I may not have new content to show for my effort, but I am working.
Feeling like you have to physically write new words every day, even if it’s just one sentence, puts a lot of, I find, unnecessary pressure on the author. It discounts all the other steps that go into writing that aren’t exactly writing, but just as vital to the process. I know I struggle with this all the time, I like having new work to show. But If I didn’t take the time to recharge—like driving all through the state of Oregon—or research things like fairy mounds (a real thing I did for TMOS), or even spend weeks editing old content, I’d be doing myself, and you by proxy, a disservice. I’d be essentially going into gun fight with a whiffle-ball bat. So, even if I don’t write every day, every day is still a writing day.
I know I’m not the only author or writer who feels this way, and I know there are plenty who disagree with me, and that’s fine! At the end of the day, this is the process that works for me. If this kind of process suits your creative endeavors as well, then awesome! If it doesn’t, that’s fine! You do what works best for you, but just remember: even baby steps are steps forward, and you are making progress. So tell me, friends, what is your process like? Would you be able to get things done with my method?