You’ve no doubt been told (at one point in your professional life or another) — or have read either here and there, that in order to keep the creative juices flowing and ensure that writer’s block is kept at bay, you should, as good professional practice, write daily.
This is classical writing advice and its wisdom and benefits cannot be questioned — at least not when you honestly want to keep up the business of writing and at one point in your life be called a ‘writer’ or its more coveted variant: an ‘author’.
The problem, however, lies with the implementation: writing every day, especially for the new writer, is one of the hardest things in the world — right after understanding Einstein’s equations or getting the hang of Advanced Quantum Physics as an Arts Major.
I have, for example, a knack for writing — and I consider it an innate gift, one that comes directly from the earth to my very core and ultimately, defines my very existence.
Still, until recently, it was near impossible to write daily, ordinary writing; something I have been doing for the past twenty years and something everybody agrees I’m good at!
There was always a day within the week (or more aptly, ‘weeks within the day’) when I did not feel like writing at all. The stars simply did not align themselves in my favor.
When the stars managed an alignment that I believed was for my good, my awesome children would conspire amongst themselves and declare playtime, making certain that I did not only join them in their never-ending games, but I also took full part by rolling on the floor like the kid they usually succeed in making me.
When the stars and kids finally had a meeting and reached an agreement in my favor, the myriad challenges of life usually happen and I’d need to take care of them and sort them out in such a manner that writing doesn’t make sense at all — at least, not while at it. Ill health and holding fort for my wife at home being classic examples.
When, in spite of all these unavoidable challenges of day to day living, I still resist the urge to go straight to bed and instead fire up my computer for some power writing sessions, good old nature comes, softly and reassuringly, taping my shoulders and reminding me of my mortality and how I cannot escape it. Usually, when this happens, I fall asleep right on my writing desk, waking up only hours later to another cycle of an identical yesterday.
Now, if the above narration remotely looks like how your life is positioned at the moment as regards writing, hand on there — here’s what you need to do in 3 devilishly simple steps.
1. Commit To A Certain Word Count A Day. Unfailingly.
When I first stumbled upon the daily word count of Mark Twain, I was shocked — especially since that wasn’t what I was looking for plus right up until that moment, I had no idea that famous writers had a daily word and would generally never go to bed without that minimum, for the large part.
However, what struck me with that realization was that Twain wasn’t just keeping track of his words as mere records; he was actively counting them and was almost fanatical about how many words he cranked out of each day!
This shocked, humbled, and inspired me at the same time. My thought, before that point, was that famous writers simply wrote when inspiration struck; it was the ‘upcoming talents’ like me who were bothered with the reality of writing daily.
Isn’t genius not to be forced? Must it not come of its own, unpushed and unrushed?
I dug deeper and discovered that almost all the modern, famous writers have word counts — and this is the very minimum they must write daily whether the earth’s rotation failed or armageddon had come.
This discovery opened both my brain and heart at the same time! If ultra-successful writers are in the business of daily writing, whether the stars aligned or not, did anyone (read: me — and now, you) have an excuse?
I answered in the negative….
NOTE: Not everything written in the day gets published. Rewrites and deletes are bound to happen and this is perfectly normal. What must be reduced to writing every day is that first, all-important draft.
If you’re interested in daily writing, you should set a minimum word count — and make certain that you don’t fail to write at least that minimum before going to bed each night.
2. Set A Word Count That Is Easy And Ultra-Achievable
Realizing that daily word counts are the stuff of even the greats was not much of a challenge; the shock soon settled.
However, going forward and setting my very own daily word max was where the issue was knotted and all attempts at resolving the same in a civilized manner failed.
I took a look at the daily word count of one of the most prolific writers of all time, Stephen King, and discovered that he wrote, approximately, between 2000 and 3000 words a day. Everyday. Unfailingly.
This was my inspiration! I pegged mine at 2000 — no need to be overly ambitious.
I managed this on the first day — with a nagging headache. On the second, I was ‘ground’ around 1500 words and was practically unable to type any reasonable thing further.
As a matter of fact, I had forgotten even the storyline and was essentially, at that point, penning down ‘beautiful nonsense’ that served no purpose beyond pushing me closer to the set word count.
After some soul searching and taking a look at the spreadsheet I had created for the daily word count, I discovered that 1200 words a day was the average and 1000 words a day, the absolute sweet spot.
I readjusted immediately — and those 1000 words are now written first thing in the morning, even before the kids wake up or responsibility calls. Every other word added later is considered a bonus.
Interestingly, however, my spreadsheet has some surprises for me: on some days, I pull in about 3500 words, even without feeling a thing or experiencing a headache but never below a thousand.
Now, what this has done is that even without my ‘knowing’, my daily word count has surged past the 1,000 words initially set. Now, I’m dangling between 1500 and 2000 solid words. On average. Every solid day!
Here’s the takeaway:
If you’re interested in writing daily, don’t be bothered about setting impressive daily word counts, at least at the beginning. Simply set what you’ll easily hit and make certain you hit it, unfailingly. If inspiration strikes harder or the stars align better, enjoy the ride.
Remember that Earnest Hemingway wrote just about 500 words a day — yet recorded all the amazing successes he did. It isn’t all about the words per se; rather, it is how you can consistently put out that number, day in, day out, all year round; twenty years down the line.
If 200 words work for you, do them unashamedly. But, never fail those ‘sacred 200’ for any reason in the world!
3. Make The Sacred Art Of Writing Easy For Yourself
Life happens — and it is for this sole reason that ‘the clouds’ were invented.
On a more serious note, no matter how organized you attempt to be, life will always find a way of happening and attempt to make a jolly old fool of your writing plans — no matter how lofty or glorious they may be.
The only way out is to stop it!
Get your writing to the clouds and make certain that you can access your work and actively edit it anywhere in the world, on whatever device you happen to have at the moment, provided there’s an internet connection.
Personally, my smartphone is used for this purpose. Even while driving, I easily pull over and add some words, as inspiration strikes. Waiting for an appointment? Instead of catching up on WhatsApp groups, I remove my phone, locate my work and develop a scene. Waiting in the parking lot for either my wife or the kids? Phone to the rescue — and YouTube won’t be the destination…rather, it will be Google Docs, the home of my works before they see the light of day!
At the end of the day, that 1,000 words minimum is crossed without much conscious thought or even opening my PC for that matter. This, in my opinion, is taking productivity to grand new heights hitherto never explored or shared publicly prior to this time.
If you’re interested in making certain that you actually write daily, make it easy for yourself in achieving this…use the cloud. Using a cloud-based service like Google Docs will see to it that you’re able to write even in the most unconventional places and times and in the end, easily hit your word target without even knowing it!
Implemented correctly, once you commit to a certain daily word count, make certain that your word count is ultra achievable and importantly, make it super easy for yourself to hit this target — even at odd places and locations, far from your PC and comfy desk, and everything will be almost sorted…
…until the demon called social media is discovered and restrained!
That unending Facebook doomscrolling, the ‘fascinating’ stories of Twitter, the awesome documentaries of YouTube, and the captivating short videos of TikTok are all the enemies here.
Avoid them like the plaque and with some luck on your side, your work will be published this year and if you already have something for the press, two will magically become powerfully possible and devilishly seductive at the same time!