Many writers seem to fall at one of two ends of the quantity spectrum when it comes to writing. They seem either to struggle to write enough to meet their goals, or they go overboard — writing so much that it actually becomes a problem.
I personally fall on the more prolific side of the line (if that wasn’t already obvious….). People ask me how I manage that. Honestly, it’s just how I’m wired.
You might think this is a blessing, not a curse. Sometimes it’s a nice perk. But for me, it’s led to a lot of issues with time management and creative burnout in the past. I want to do too much too quickly, and then I wonder why I’m so tired at the end of a long week.
It’s a continuous learning experience for me. Even when I feel like I have the energy to work on five different things at once, it’s important to hold myself back. To slow down and take my time. To pace myself, so I don’t get in over my head. Again.
We’re all plagued with this fear that if we don’t write something, edit something, publish something as quickly as possible, it’s never going to happen. I can understand this from an internal motivation standpoint. If I want to work on my novel, I’m going to work on it — because tomorrow, I might not feel as driven to do the same thing.
But we rush ourselves too much, sometimes. Some have trouble finishing what they start because they pressure themselves too intensely to produce something flawless as fast as possible. Others end up getting a lot done, but they end up making less time for self-care. And that either makes their writing less effective, they enjoy it less, or both.
I don’t think there’s a set amount that’s considered “acceptable” to write every day. Some people can write 5,000+ words a day — that’s great, but not realistic for all, and it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re better off than someone who only writes 500 words a day.
There’s no fine line between too little and too much. Your ideal daily output depends on you, your schedule, and your goals. Maybe you want to train yourself to write more. Maybe you need to work on writing a little less, to choose daily/weekly consistency over daily quantity.
If you need to work on writing more, well, this post probably wasn’t that helpful. But remember, a little bit every day is better than nothing. It might not seem like it, but even 250 words is a lot, compared to zero.
Either way — you can do this. Creating stuff is hard. Figuring out how to balance that, and everything else, is even harder.
Write. But don’t let yourself go too far over the edge. Your ideas are still going to be there when you sit down at your laptop/tablet/notebook tomorrow. I could keep writing after this. But I’m not going to do that. I’m going to relax. Ha. Whatever that means.
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 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.