So many writers are adamant about the importance of writing every day that just the act of putting the adage into practice has become a way to define yourself as A Serious Writer. But what if, for one reason or another, you struggle to write daily? Can you make just as much progress toward your writing goals on a more flexible schedule?
One of my all-time favorite articles in the years I’ve spent at WD is a feature we put together for a special “Big 10”-themed issue called “10 Experts Take on the Writer’s Rulebook.” In it, we invited top writing instructors to riff on when to follow and when to break the so-called “rules” of writing. The always wise James Scott Bell (author of, among many other great books and articles, The Art of War for Writers) took the contrarian’s stance on “Write every day,” arguing that he’d found weekly word count goals to be a more productive system.
The idea is that setting a weekly word quota keeps you on track while taking the pressure off. It allows for a great writing day to compensate for another day when the words don’t flow as easily, or when you’re too distracted or busy to make the most of any writing time you’ve got. It allows for your creativity to ebb and flow a bit more naturally without the guilt piling in. It allows you to grant yourself a day off when you deserve it. And it still keeps you moving forward with regular practice. (And if you run into writer’s block, Bell’s got some good tips for that too.)
Bell’s advice resonated with me long after we’d sent the issue to press—so, I tried it. For me, his method worked so well that I actually became more productive than when I’d been trying to force a daily routine that refused to stick. With a weekly quota, I’d still take myself to task when I needed to, but I could also let myself off the hook when things just weren’t connecting. I no longer had that nagging feeling when I doing something besides writing that I should be writing, even when I had no real time or desire to be at my laptop. I was free to create—and I was officially converted to Bell’s way of thinking.
What do you find is the best way to reach your writing goals and objectives?
Some writers swear by daily goals for writing, and that method may work for you. But if you’re falling short of those goals or feeling forced into a system that seems too rigid, consider giving a weekly word quota a try. You may find that in making the switch, you can still be disciplined, committed and productive—or, like me, that you’re even more so.
What do you think? What’s the best way to keep your forward momentum? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Editor, Writer’s Digest