Do I have to write today? Do I have to write every day? Do I have to write on weekends? Do I have to work on more than one project at a time? Do I have to write a thousand words during a writing session? Do I really, really have to?
Simple answer to all of these (and many more) writing questions:
No you don’t have to write every day, you don’t have to write at the weekend, or on your birthday, or during summer holidays, or in fact at all! You don’t have to write another word if you don’t want to. Imagine it…never having to sit down in frustration and tear the words from your mind. No more downing coffee, after coffee, after coffee just so you feel buzzed enough to finish a tough typing session. No more tearing your hair out when you realise you renamed a character, or forgot about the protagonist’s dog, or changed the antagonist’s sex, halfway through a novel.
No more stress…
Ahhh, isn’t that a relief?
It might be for you, but to me it sounds like Hell.
Give up writing? Or only write when you feel like it? *shudder* But that’s completely up to you.
A few people have asked me about writing daily, or sticking to certain word counts, and all I can say is find what works for you. Personally I feel that imposing word counts and deadlines can in fact have the opposite effect from what you intended.
Imagine you go on a diet. No more cake or chocolate during the week (I know, it’s unthinkable!), but then some GIT brings a chocolate cake into work to celebrate their birthday…the selfish bastards! So you look at the cake, then you look at your stomach, cake, stomach, cake, stomach, cake IN stomach…bugger.
But since you’ve now eaten cake during the week, you’ve already failed. So what harm will it do if you have another slice tomorrow? Whether you do or don’t you’ve already broken your no choc/cake during the week rule, so technically you’re not really cheating.
Same with writing.
I will write every day during the week, 1,000 words, gives me a total of 7,000 by the end of Sunday. Uh oh, I missed Tuesday because (insert terrible excuse here), now I’ll never reach 7,000 by Sunday…in that case it doesn’t really matter if I don’t write during the other days this week…woo hoo! Week off!
Well done, you’ve won…an argument with yourself. You cheated in order to win something and who has to pay up? You? So who the Hell won…nobody, that’s who!
By conning yourself into thinking you have no choice but not to write you’ve not only lost out on valuable writing time you’ve also lost a bit of dignity. If you don’t want to write every day – then don’t. If you don’t want to have to write a thousand words a day – then don’t. But don’t impose deadlines to make yourself feel better and then conjure excuses from thin air to alleviate guilt for not following your own goals. It’s embarrassing.
Ask yourself some more ‘Do I’ questions:
Do I want to be a writer? Do I want to have a book published? Do I want to be able to say to my friends “Sorry, I can’t make it to the cinema this week, I have a book signing tour”? Do you want to be able to walk into a bookstore and point out your book, sitting on the same shelves as your favourite author?
If the answer is yes, then get writing.
Take a few minutes to imagine finding your book in that bookshop, a few minutes visualising people queuing up to get a copy of your book signed. Now wipe the stupid grin from your face and make it happen!