How Often to Write – Part Two

Last week, we went head-to-head with experts about the idea that a person should write every day.

Read that post here. Today, we’ll talk about two other things to consider while determining how often you should write to keep your muscles toned and stories flowing.

Find Your Inspiration

Another question I’ve often asked my clients when they say they’ve run out of ideas: “When was the last time you felt inspired to write? Walk me through the before, during and after of that event.”

Inspiration might seem like it comes in stops and starts.

Maybe a walk to the dog park nets you a good idea once per week, but every time you go to the beach, you’re flooded with ideas.

Sadly, the beach is a two-hour drive away and who has time to make that and still get words on the page?

So what is it about the beach that inspires ideas? The sound of the surf? The squawk of seagulls? The scent on the breeze? The way your hair blows back and then into your mouth as you inhale nature?

Maybe it’s all of those things combined.

Every one of those can be recreated in your office. Surf and seagull soundtracks abound on YouTube (and other places). Candles and scent diffusers duplicate seashore aromas. You can blow them in gusts with an oscillating fan.

Your inner procrastinator cringed.

Mostly because it feels safer when it doesn’t let you create. Creativity involves risk. Risk means danger. You’ve been made with mechanisms to avoid danger at any cost.

If you lack inspiration, make a list of the times you felt inspired. Where were you? What were you doing? What did inspiration feel like? What was the result of those feelings?
Sometimes we ignore inspiration. We don’t jot down the ideas she gives us. Life is busy. We’ll do it later.

Except we don’t.

So she’s given up on us. Why waste her energy sending grand thoughts to us if we brush them off like a pesky ant?

Take an honest look at your relationship with inspiration. If you’ve sent her packing, she’ll return. With the right invitation.

Just Write Already

Writers write. Some write every day at eight in the morning until they’ve written for a set amount of time or a specific number of words or pages.

Others write in spurts when the inspiration hits them, but they don’t stop until they’ve followed the thread to its conclusion. And there they find a first draft of a story—no matter how rough.

I write four days per week from ten until noon—or whenever my growling stomach reminds me I haven’t eaten since the night before.

On Mondays, I write for an hour in the afternoon, usually at one or two. Always before my brain starts to fog around three-thirty. Often after I’ve taken a one-mile walk around my neighborhood.

I’ve learned that when I sit down to write, my muse wants to come out and play. When I show up regularly, so does she. When I feed her with good books and entertaining programs and movies, she rewards me with interesting plot twists and unique characters.

But that didn’t happen immediately. It was something I learned to depend on by showing up at my desk at the same time every day and refusing to leave until I’d written the next words in whatever story I was working on at the time.

How often should you write? As often as it takes for you to turn out the number of words or pages that satisfy your desire to create.

What advice have you heard about how often to write? Have you found your sweet spot? Share it with the rest of us.

What do you think? Add to the discussion here.