Write every day?

There’s a saying that goes: “Writing is like showering; if you don’t do it every day, you start to stink.” A lot of people repeat the advice whenever they can: “You must write every day! You must, no matter how you feel!”

Of course, this is false. You can write when you please, and you can decide not to write when you please.

But the idea of writing each and every day comes from an important understanding: writing takes discipline and practice. One must keep doing it, thinking about it, and studying it to get good at it. One does not become a wonderful storyteller simply by having a brain that can imagine a story that would be “so cool.” One must put in the practice hours, knowing that the products of early efforts may not be very pleasing to anybody.

However, I think the idea that you must write every day misses a key ingredient that makes any story writing worth the effort, and that is the joy of writing. Writing every day for the sake of writing every day turns the art into work, perhaps even drudgery. A writer who forces drudgery upon himself is not nobly disciplined, suffering for the sake of his art. Instead, he’s a fool, suffering for the sake of his pride.

Write every day or don’t, it really doesn’t matter. You will find successful authors who do, and successful authors who don’t.

I think the more important element to learning any discipline is not the ability to grit one’s teeth through the drudgery, but the ability to be passionate, the ability to let the rest of the world fall away. In storytelling, it’s the ability to fall in love with what never happened in a world that never was.

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