Some writing experts will tell you that you aren’t a “real” writer if you don’t write every day.
I disagree with this opinion. It’s not doing your brain any good to force yourself to perform to the best of your ability without rest days. That’s how creative burnout happens, and some people have a really hard time recovering from that.
You do not have to write every day to be successful in writing.
However … it might have some hidden benefits.
But before we get into them, let’s be clear that writing every day does not mean you have to chip away at your novel, write another batch of blog posts, or get ahead on this month’s freelancing projects. You should not work every day.
If you do write every day — or you’re thinking about trying — don’t assume you have to actually WORK each of those days. Writing every day might mean on your “day off” you scribble down a few lines of a poem. Or you start writing a random scene of dialogue you don’t necessarily plan on using in a current story. A journal entry, a heartfelt letter to your future self — it doesn’t matter what. As long as you’re being creative, and it’s basically stress-free, it counts.
I think it’s important to consistently exercise your brain, especially when we’re talking about creativity. There are going to be points in your writing career when you have to create something and, for whatever reason, you just don’t want to do it. The more you practice being creative on your own time, the better you’ll be at creating under pressure. You can create without having to create your best thing every single day — and that’s amazing to me.
Writing something daily forces you to come up with more fresh ideas — but they can be fun ideas. Ideas without an obligatory blog post or other project behind them are some of the most thrilling things you might experience from week to week. Sometimes I just sit here and generate about 10 to 15 random ideas for stories. I may never write any of them. But that makes me use my brain in a healthy way without feeling like I actually have to tackle any of the things I’m coming up with anytime soon — or at all.
There’s also a major benefit to having a set routine, at least for many writers. If I went a day without publishing a blog post (when one wasn’t already scheduled out), to be completely honest, I may never write another one. It’s wired deeply into my brain that almost every day, I sit down to write one or more blog posts. It’s just what I do. I barely have to think about it (until I get to the actual writing, that is!). Sometimes, routine helps keep your motivation and your productivity in check.
Is everyone capable of daily writing? No. And that’s OK. Some people like to write in bursts, pouring out thousands of words at a time before taking a step back for days or even weeks at a time. Some just need that one or those two days off every week to reset. I get that. Just don’t deprive yourself of your brain’s need to constantly create. A creative brain makes a happy writer. (Except when it’s three in the morning and you get an idea and uuuuggghhh.)
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.