Okay, it’s Day 21 of NaNoWriMo. So far, I’ve written three words. Apparently I’ve decided to spot November three weeks and then pull together a novel in just over a week. Or maybe not. I wrote the first draft of King Maker during a NaNoWriMo, though the final version of it was nearly double what was produced during NaNoWriMo. But the process of tearing through a first draft in a month was a valuable exercise, if only to prove to myself that it could be done (a skillset which has since proven quite handy).
I’ve often gone around and around in circles with myself on the importance of writing daily. It’s like any discipline that one seeks to acquire in order to further growth in an area. Take “personal devotions” (daily prayer and Bible reading), for example. Personal study and prayer are vital parts of a growing spiritual closeness with God. However, I grew up in a church where you were made to feel like a bad Christian if you didn’t start each day with Bible study and prayer time. Instead of intimacy, I was shackled with some new chains of false guilt, reducing what should be the natural development of a relationship between me and God into some legalistic rule.
So I don’t want to needlessly burden myself with any sort of needless guilt about the notion of “write every day.” It’s one of those bits of advice newbie writers get all the time (along with “read everything” and “finish things”). Too often I read on blogs or twitters “reports” on how much said author has written that day. Always generating within me a variety of responses (not the least of which is dropping their blog or twitter from my feed if they mostly consists of such reports).
I can’t write everyday because I’m not always in a frame of mind to write. Sometimes life happens and the mind is chaotic and you produce a pile of words which need to be pitched in your next round of revision anyway. All of that being said, arguably, I always write. Ideas shape themselves and pool in the back of my head, even without pen put to paper. Plot kinks get worked out. Characters gradually introduce themselves to me. While we believe that our creativity can’t be turned on and off like a faucet, the reality is that it/you can be trained to go into that zone more easily. A stimulated mind and the pressure of a looming deadline do provide the right alchemy to put words on a page. As always, the most difficult part of writing is actually planting my behind in a chair and putting my pen to paper. And the habit of developing that discipline lies at the heart, and is the point, of writing every day.
And I don’t want to miss the point of why I write: for the love of telling story (and pay). So … write.
The “write every day” dogma, like much other advice on writing, should be taken with a grain of salt (or rather, like salt, should be adjusted for taste as it suits your writing “recipe”). In the meantime, I’ve written 545 words for this blog post. I’m off the hook for today.