Write every day. You’ve probably heard this advice before. You’ve probably heard this advice from me before. But chances are you have yet to actually follow it. And I think I know why.
“Because Javacia told me I should” is never going to be a good enough reason to write every day. That reason alone isn’t going to be enough to motivate you to write when you’ve had a terrible day at work and you just want to spend your evening watching Netflix or when your bed feels really, really good and you don’t want to get up early to write before your kids wake up.
So today I’m offering you much better reasons to write every day, reasons I hope keep you motivated today, tomorrow and beyond.
Writing is a practice.
Just as musicians must constantly practice to get better at their instruments and athletes must practice to get better at their sport, writers must practice to get better at their craft, too. Musicians don’t just wait to pick up their instrument when they’re before a crowd. Athletes don’t just wait until the big game or the big race to get in gear. So stop waiting until you’re hit with inspiration for your New York Times bestseller to write. As I’ve said before, everything you write isn’t meant to be read. A lot of what you write will be trash. But then you’ll dumpster dive into that garbage and find a gem, a jewel, something worth salvaging, something that you will turn into that great work that you were meant to bring into this world.
I’m not the only person to see similarities between writers and athletes. In her book Writing Down the Bones Natalie Goldberg says:
“This is the practice school of writing. Like running, the more you do it, the better you get at it. Some days you don’t want to run and you resist every step of the three miles, but you do it anyway. You practice whether you want to or not. You don’t wait around for inspiration and deep desire to run. It’ll never happen, especially if you’re out of shape or have been avoiding it. But if you run regularly, you train your mind to cut through or ignore your resistance. You just do it. And in the middle of the run, you love it. When you come to the end, you never want to stop. And you stop, hungry for the next time.”
Practice makes progress.
Notice I didn’t say practice makes perfect. Your work will never be perfect. No one’s work will ever be perfect. And I feel I need to say that because you may be letting perfectionism keep you from sharing your work with others. Or maybe you’re even letting perfectionism stop you from writing a single word!
Maybe you think you need to take all the e-courses on writing and blogging or go back to school to get an MFA in creative writing or a degree in journalism before you can write.
Look, I have degrees in creative writing and journalism and I’m telling you that’s ridiculous. While I’m proud of my degrees, those framed pieces of paper didn’t make me a better writer. What did? WRITING! School mattered not because of the degrees but because of all that practice it gave me, all that time I spent writing and rewriting my work. But guess what — you don’t have to go to school to do that. All you have to do is write. Then you have to put your big girl panties on and show your work to other writers so you can get feedback and then work on making your writing better.
You’re worried your first draft is going to suck. Rest assured, your first draft will suck. But this is yet another reason why we write every day. The more you write the less you’ll suck.
Octavia Butler once said,
“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.”
And I believe writing every day will teach you persistence.
Inspiration is overrated.
Jack London once said,
“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”
And one of my favorite quotes on writing is from Louis L’Amour:
“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”
Writing every day, in my opinion, is the practice that will help you become a professional. If you want to go pro, if you want to get paid to write –whether it’s for books, blog posts, or articles in your favorite publications — you have to learn how to write even when you don’t feel like it, even when you don’t feel “inspired” because if you miss a deadline you can’t tell your editor you don’t have your work ready because you lost touch with your muse. And if you do you’re going to also be losing touch with your paycheck.
So right here, right now make a commitment to write every day whether it’s 500 words or just one line. Write every day not because I or any other person you follow on the internet told you to do so. Write every day because you owe it yourself.
April 8-28 I’ll be hosting a FREE 21-day challenge to help women like you develop a daily writing practice. Be sure to sign up for the See Jane Write email list so you’ll be notified when registration for the challenge opens.