Dec 5 / Anna Adami

Why Writing Everyday Might Not Be Right for You

As a new writer, I constantly heard the advice to write everyday. I heard it from teachers, peers, and published writers I admired. Stephen King, Anne Lamott, the list goes on. Kiese Laymon wrote a popular blog stating that "we're not good enough to not practice." 

While I agree with Laymon about the necessity of practice, I'm resistant to mandates. Hustle culture can be detrimental to my creative vitality. It can aggravate my mind, exhaust my body, and make me ill. I've done it. I've written everyday. I was mean to myself, feeling like a failure anytime I missed my daily goal. My immune system plummeted because this way of leading a writing life did not align with my body. 
a day writing could be a day spent observing the path of a snail

Is a daily writing practice right for you? 

If your goal is fast writing and consistent publications, a daily regiment may be right for you. Or if you're riding a powerful and obsessive flow of creative energy, you may feel so buoyed that you delightfully write every day. Or maybe daily routines jam with your schedule and personality. In all of these cases: rock on. Do what is right for you.

But if a daily writing practice is more exhausting than energizing, there are other ways.

What are your constraints? 

Constraints can be job schedules, child rearing responsibilities, or other competing roles that limit your available time. They can also be illnesses, neurodivergence, or other physical and mental needs. They can also simply be competing values. Maybe writing isn't your top priority. Your spiritual practice is. Or your family is. This is doesn't mean you are any less of a writer. But it may mean that you structure your practice differently than someone would for whom writing is top priority. 

Other Options

Esmé Weijun Wang writes from bed on her phone due to chronic illness. She gives herself a word count goal of two to three hundred. And she is kind to herself. In a Poets & Writers article, she wrote, “Should I be unable to do that before I solidly hit a limitation and can’t go any further, I don’t attack myself with recriminations or berate myself for being lazy. I simply acknowledge that I have tried my best and will try again.”

Victor LaValle only writes four or five days a week, for only two hours a day, no more than that. "The quality of my writing, and thinking, drops off a cliff if I work for any longer," he says. 

I learned in a workshop with Julie Poole that poet Diana Khoi Nguyen writes only twice a year for fifteen days at a time, usually at a residency. It took her 30 days - 1 year - to complete her last book of poems. 

My practice has looked many ways. 

Often, I've had to pivot. During my MFA program, I wrote every day, keeping a diligent record. Hello to burnout. When working full time, I advocated for Fridays off so I could have a writing, reading, and creative pondering day. I only wrote Friday and Saturday mornings then, and it was delicious. When teaching and subbing frequent yoga classes, as I am now, my writing practice is more sporadic. I fit it in where I can. But I always enjoy writing my one newsletter a week. 

You can reimagine your practice.

I created a free workbook to help you to stay true to your body, values, and constraints. Craft a routine specific to you by grabbing that resource here. Routine is a creative practice, too. 

I wish you wild and wondrous ways of writing.

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