Forward Motion

How often should you write?  Everyone has a different writing process.  Some people write for a living and others squeeze in a half-hour of writing time during their lunch break.  My philosophy on writing is the same as it is for most other endeavors:  Make forward progress.

Your idea of progress probably depends on your writerly goals.  Are you in a hurry to be rich and famous?  Do you just want to get your stories down on paper?  Are you looking for an audience but not worried about making money?  Do you write as a form a therapy?  The answers to these questions are probably what drive your concept of progress in your writing.

I think progress is a relative concept.  I’ve heard people say, “If you don’t write every day then you are not serious about your craft.”  That is an easy statement to make, but is it true for everyone?  I believe that some people need to write every day in order to keep their forward progress.  Distractions abound, and it is easy to become sidetracked with other things.  For others, progress may be finishing a sentence rather than a chapter, or writing something every week.

I don’t know, maybe I’m just a relaxed writer—now.  I used to be much more impatient when I was a younger man.  I wanted things done now, and I did not give myself, or anyone else, a break.  I set aggressive goals.  I annoyed friends and co-workers.  I stressed out over things.  Sometimes I would be so worked up about making progress in my writing that I was afraid to write.  It was a sort of defense mechanism—if I don’t write, I don’t have to face this uncertainty of success.

It was that success/failure anxiety that I had to overcome.  Basically, all the writing advice I read was stressing me out: you have to do this, or you have to do that to become a successful writer.  It was advice overload and you get hooked on it.  For a while, I spent more time reading about writing rather than doing it.  I’m not saying you can’t find good advice out there, but it can be advice overload and at some point you have to find your own way.  Now, I avoid all the writing advice unless I’m looking to find an answer to a specific question.  After all, there is no one path and we all have to develop our own process.

So now my philosophy on writing is to make forward progress.  For me, that definition changes week-to-week.  When I’m in the office, I try to write every day during my lunch break.  When I’m traveling for the week, I’m happy if I get an evening to write.  When I’m on vacation or have visitors at my house, I may not write at all.  Basically, I try to set weekly goals based upon my schedule.

So, how often do you write, and are you okay with it?