Writers write. “Experts” disagree about how often a writer should sit down and spew words to grow or maintain literary prowess.
I’m not sure there’s such a thing as an expert on this topic. The only expert on what works for you is you. And for what works best for my writing life? I’m the only expert.
Although I can read what famous authors I’d like to follow believe, their system might not work with my creative soul.
As with many things in the writing life, more information on this subject creates confusion and offers our insecurities fodder to thrive.
Stop insecurity now.
You can discover how often you need to write words. But you won’t find the answer online, or in a writing book, or at a writing conference.
I know because I searched in all these places—and more—without ever doing more than chasing my tail. Believe me, not a lot of words get written when your head is spinning from that activity.
Find Your When
One of my favorite questions to ask my clients: “When are you most creative?”
Answers vary. Some will swear they are most creative late in the afternoon but when they try to write at that time, they get distracted by ideas for their latest quilting project.
I’m most creative in the morning. After I’ve exercised and imbibed at least one cup of coffee. I’ll also need to check off my household chore of the day before my inner child comes out to play.
You know why? Because my mom taught us that work always comes before play. And if you finish your work, play is more fun because you don’t have to worry about stopping in time to get the work done.
And that is an ingrained part of who I am.
Bad or good? I don’t know. I do know I tried to teach my sons the same thing but I don’t think it stuck. You’d have to ask them.
It’s actually not a bad thing. Because if my creativity refuses to come out and play, I can go do another chore and tell her, “See? The work’s done. You can come out now.”
Some days, she needs to explore in nature before she’s ready to play on the page.
How do I know this?
Because I experimented by writing at different times of the day, after doing different activities. I discovered what stimulated my creativity and what sort of activities always lured it into the open. Even if—at first—all that happened was a flood of ideas in my brain.
You need to experiment too. If you feel the itch to write, sit down and do it. Make a note of the time you start and stop, how much you wrote, how you felt.
If you run into a block, try other creative tasks to see if you can defeat the obstacle. But don’t give it more power by claiming, “I’ve got writer’s block and I can’t write.”
Our creative selves despise labels. We’ll run and hide from them.
After a few weeks of experimentation, you should see a pattern. You can write more words after doing certain things and at certain times of the day (which might be different depending on what day of the week it is).
Now you know the answer to when you should write.
Next week, I’ll talk about two other things to consider when determining how often you should sit down to write.
Did you write today? When is your best writing time?