How often do you write?
If you’re not a professional, your writing habits might be weak and flabby. Let me explain why you should write every day.
Here are three things you almost certainly do every day:
- Eat food
- Drink water
Here are three you probably do (or are nagged by others to do):
- Make your bed
- Brush your teeth
- Wash a few dishes, or at least load the dishwasher
I’m guessing most of you don’t write every day. That’s perfectly OK if you have no interest in writing or no responsibility for doing it.
If, however, you relish the thought of becoming a better writer or one who works with more ease and less angst, here’s why you should develop the habit of writing every day.
1. Writing daily makes the job easier.
If you get more practice at anything—exercising, cooking, making music or playing chess—it starts to become second nature. You don’t have to try as hard, and you have more fun.
2. Writing daily will improve the quality of your work .
Do something often enough, and you’ll get better at it. If you’re a person for whom writing is difficult, doing it every day will help you pick up the tools and techniques to do it better.
Several years ago, singer Tony Bennett said in an interview that he practices every day to maintain his skill. “If I skip one day, I notice the difference,” he said. “If I skip two, my band notices. If I skip three, the audience notices.”
3. You’ll eliminate the need to make a decision.
This might sound funny or inconsequential, but it’s a terribly important benefit of the daily writing habit. Every time you make a decision about whether to do something, you tire your brain. We each have a limited amount of willpower, which declines as the day goes on, like sand running through an hourglass.
If you’ve made the global decision that you’re going to write daily, you needn’t negotiate with yourself. No more, “Can I fit in my writing before lunch?” nor “Should I do my writing after dinner?” If you’ve already decided to do your writing daily, it frees your mind to deal with other issues—including choosing the subject matter you want to write about.
4. You’ll inoculate yourself against writer’s block.
If you write every day, you will quickly give up the notion of always writing a blockbuster. Instead of aiming for quality, you’ll be targeting quantity. This is more helpful than it might sound, because writer’s block is usually born out of trying to achieve excellence.
Pssssst! Here’s the secret all professional writers know: Good writing almost never occurs in the writing stage. It comes from frequent, diligent and determined editing.
5. It will help you become a better thinker.
Writing is only partly about communicating. It’s also about sorting out what you think about an issue. Society tells us that we should write to explain or persuade. It’s just as important—maybe even more so—to write in order to learn what you think.
6. It will give you momentum.
If writing is important to your job—and especially to you—then having momentum will make you feel happier and more relaxed. This feeling of happiness will wash over the rest of your life and start a self-perpetuating cycle, making the writing process easier and more comfortable for you.
7. It will allow you to start small.
Many people think they must designate two to four hours to writing. That’s a misconception, especially if you’re writing every day.
Start with five minutes. So what if you can write no more than a sentence? The act of writing that single sentence is a step forward.
Do it day after day, week after week, and before long you will have accumulated thousands of words. The kaizen technique teaches that we can make gigantic accomplishments from tiny steps.
In my Get It Done program, I work with writers struggling to finish their dissertations, their nonfiction books and their novels. They must report in to me, five days per week, telling me how many words they wrote each day (or how much time they spent editing.)
Some ask me if they can write every day. I always tell them no, because everyone needs time off, but if any of them want to write something else, or do “morning pages” or keep a journal, I always encourage them to go ahead.
The practice of daily writing is one of the healthiest habits you can develop.
A version of this article originally appeared on The Publication Coach.