No, You Don’t HAVE to Write.

“Have to” can change the way you think about your work — and not always for the better.

I don’t like it when people treat writing like a chore. More accurately, I don’t think it’s helpful for people who want to be successful but aren’t quite sure how to stay motivated long enough to get their work done.

“Have to” implies that something will automatically be unpleasant. And that’s not the best way to approach a writing session, at least in my experience.

Let’s be clear: As a writer, you do “have to” write. And there will be days you really won’t want to, and this is completely normal. Just because you have ideas and are an overall creative person does not mean you’ll be driven to make things 100% of the time. You’re only human, after all.

However, there does need to be some kind of balance between “want to write” and “need to write.” Something that is a hobby can also sometimes feel like a chore, but it shouldn’t always feel that way. Imagine waking up in the morning, looking at your to-do list, and realizing you’ve made it a point to get some writing done before you go to sleep.

“Ugh, I have to write today,” you think.

THAT is when you start slipping into the wrong creative mindset.

Because when you tell yourself over and over that the writing you are doing today isn’t somehow beneficial to you in the short- or long-term, you’re unknowingly adding more stress to the activity and to your life.

Attitude matters. Even when it’s just you and your laptop and there’s no one around to judge your pouting. None of us WANT to do our chores, and this makes starting them so much more difficult than it would be if we just said, “Alright, I’m going to do this thing I’d rather not do but it’s going to be fine and I’ll feel better once I start doing it! Yeah!”

I know you can’t always approach everything with that kind of mindset. There are days I just wake up in a bad mood and I don’t feel like doing anything and complain my way through the day. These are not good days, but they do happen sometimes.

It’s when this becomes an everyday occurrence that you really have to ask yourself why you aren’t enjoying what you are doing.

Sometimes, it’s OK to write “just because.”

In at least some of your writing, don’t do it because you have to. Do it because you want to. Or at the very least, tell yourself — convince yourself — that the writing you are doing is for the right reasons. Try to stay positive, at least a little bit. You may not feel like doing it. But the work is going to be worth it. It always, somehow, is.

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.

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7 thoughts on “No, You Don’t HAVE to Write.

  1. 100% agree. Have to and want to are two different worlds. I need to edit, but don’t want

  2. I have written to just throw words out there. I feel better about me when I write every day, but sometimes, hell, you need to take a break. Writing just to write…is like chopping on a tree with no intention of seeing it on the ground.

    Very good post.


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