I read a couple issues back in Writer’s Digest that Steven King never takes a day off from writing. At the moment, I thought that was kind of intense, but now I understand the reason for it.
A few weeks ago my family flew down to California to attend my grandfather’s wedding and visit my husband’s sister. It was a wonderful vacation. Because we were traveling light–a backpack for each of us–I left my laptop at home. I took a composition book and installed an app on my iPhone called Index Card (great for organizing scenes in your stories) with a plan to write a bit every day. I had all the tools to get some work done, I just neglected to do it. Caught up in the spirit of vacation, I floated from day to day, watching TV instead of working (there’s a reason we don’t have cable or dish at home). I think my pen hit paper twice during the week long trip.
When we returned home, I assumed I would snuggle right into my office and get to work. The problem was, all that time off had caused my writing muscle to atrophy. It was weak and almost useless. It took days for me to get my writing mojo back.
Thankfully, during that difficult week I discovered a group of people on Twitter who had the same writing schedule as me. We started doing writing sprints every afternoon, and some of us started meeting off and on in the mornings. Around the same time, a member of that group began a hash tag called #WriteChain. We set our daily writing goals and get to claim a link in our chain when we complete them. What great incentive to get work done! These people have encouraged me to write every day. It’s easier to show up when you know someone is looking for you. Rough days are smoothed out with encouraging words and well timed ribs.
The beauty of being a writer is that I can work almost anytime anywhere. It doesn’t matter if I have my laptop. As long as I have paper and pen, words can happen. I will meet up with my computer at some point and log them into the appropriate place. There is no excuse not to get my work done each and every day. Days off just create space for self-doubt to creep in. I must write every day to remind myself I am a writer, and I’m going places.
My current goals are to write in my journal for twenty minutes a day and log 1,000 words either on the blog or on my current work in progress on weekdays. I am giving myself a little breathing room on weekends. I must either journal for twenty minutes or log 1,000 words. My goals will change depending on where I’m at with a project. Words may translate into editing time or research, but it’s all part of the process.
I am building myself up for a challenge in November. Many of you have probably heard of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Though I don’t feel ready to commit to writing an entire novel in the month of November, I am going to challenge myself by raising my weekday word count to 2,000. I’ve got a little over a month to prepare, but I am already blowing past 1,000 words on most days, so I think I can do it.
Thinking about beginning a daily writing habit? Start small. Commit to twenty minutes of journal writing a day and go from there. Want to try out word sprints? Join us on twitter at #SprintDaily. We’d love to have you!