Tuesday, 12 July 2016

What I'm Writing - Too Much Advice?

Is it possible to have too much advice? In the long dark days when I refused to consider myself a writer I read a lot of advice about being/becoming a writer. In my mind there was some magical formula to being a writer and all I needed to do was unlock the secret, follow the advice and I'd magically transform into a writer. Of course that's not true but I became aware of all the advice that is out there and how contradictory it can be.

The most prominent advice I've come across is that in order to be a writer you need to write. Seems obvious when put as bluntly as that but this advice says that you should aim to write every day. Stephen King writes at least 1000 words every day and it doesn't seem to have done him any harm! His advice is that to become a writer and to improve as a writer you must write each day. Many friends have told me that the main thing I need to do is write every day, this is the secret to becoming a writer.

Then yesterday I was sent a link to an article in which the author said writing every day was a bad thing, it didn't help your writing and could even harm your creativity. Here's the link if you want to read it http://calnewport.com/blog/2013/01/13/write-every-day-is-bad-advice-hacking-the-psychology-of-big-projects/ As someone who is struggling to get into a writing habit this was contrary to everything I'd been told about writing. He even goes as far as to say that NaNoWriMo is a bad thing for a writer to attempt - this as I'm taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo! What is a girl to think?

Perhaps the thing that I need to take from all this is that there is no right and wrong way to tackle being a writer. What works for one person may not work for another. We all need to find what works for us. If only it was as easy as sitting down when the muse struck and letting it all flow. What about those days when the muse is taking a duvet day? We all know about those, frustrating as they are. What about those agonising times when we get blocked, when words refuse to come and when the page/screen glows blankly at us? Those are tough times and that's when I feel the pressure of the 'write every day' advice. It's so hard to write when words are fighting you and pulling away. Equally it's tough to put the pen/mouse down and have a day when you don't write. Sometimes it feels like you'll never write anything again.

So which advice should I follow? Do I attempt to write every day and enjoy the structure of following a NaNoWrMo challenge? Or should I write when the muse is tugging at my sleeve and pushing a pen into my hand?

I think for me the discipline of writing each day is more important. I have a tendency to be lazy if left to my own devices and days can go by when I accomplish little. So I need the push of knowing that I have to sit down and write something each day. It's not always quality, it's not always saved but it has been written. And that seems to be the most important thing for me at the moment.

So I'll carry on sitting down each afternoon and writing my 500 words until I win at this NaNoWriMo thing. And I'll keep my fingers crossed that I can keep it going once July is over. Because that's what a real writer does, isn't it? She writes.  


  1. Anything is hard when there is conflicting advice, but you really do have to go with your gut, which seems to be saying write every day. Certainly write if that muse is there, but maybe don't feel to bad if there are days when it isn't. Why don't you try some writing prompts those day so you still get words down even if they're not specific to your writing project? Keep going!

  2. Writing is such a personal thing and only you know when you want to write and how structured to be. I don't write everyday but I certainly think about what I'm writing everyday and often put stuff in my notebook to use later. I find a deadline such as posting on my blog is a good incentive to get the words down and then to polish them in time. I guess the main priority is to really enjoy what you do/write and find a schedule that suits you. #whatimwriting

  3. I read the same about writing everyday but it's so personal in my opinion. Sometimes , I don't get anything good out of my head, so it's better to stop. Otherwise, I get frustrated...#WhatImWriting

  4. Ah, the dreaded NaNoWriMo. I've tried to do it three times. Three times I've failed. I'm a very slow writer and very rarely hit the word count so after a week or so I'm so far behind I get massively discouraged and give up writing completely for the rest of the month - which isn't the desired effect at all lol.
    Curiously, a deadline for a small writing job, such as a blog post, seems to serve as an incentive.
    I think we're all different and you have to find what works for you.
    Good luck with the Camp NaNoWriMo

  5. I think challenges like campnano are great because it's just a month and a good way of seeing how writing every day works for you. I definitely think there's no 'one size fits all answer' but I suspect that some sort of routine helps a lot of us and only writing when the muse strikes isn't enough - you've got to push through the block sometimes. Doing something often really helps you improve too - I really saw that with my drawing last month. I also felt good for making the effort and sticking to something and the whole thing really improved my confidence. Conflicting advice can be difficult but in the end I think we start to work out what works for us. It sounds like you're getting there! Thanks for linking to #WhatImWriting

  6. At the end of the day only you can make the decision about what works best for you - I do tend to overload with advice and then take a step back to cherry pick the bits I like!