Friday, January 18, 2013

Day-by-Day: Why You Should Write Daily

This is 2013... The year of productivity. At least that's my goal. And I'm sure it's your goal too. Regardless of what you do, whether it's writing, art, or something else, it feels good to accomplish milestones and produce effective results in a focused timeframe. Our time and energy are too precious to waste.

But life is filled with distractions that pull us away from our goals. How do you combat that and meet your writing goals in spite of the distractions?

You learn to write something, no matter how short, every day.

This is one of the tips I give to my students when I teach freshman college writing. The best way to become a better writer, a faster writer, a more effective writer is to practice often. That's the reality with everything we do. Practice helps us perfect our skills in every arena, and writing is no different. You have to do it regularly. (I also tell my students to revise, but I'll address that some other time.)

There's just something about writing every day. I don't know what it is exactly. But I know that it gets you into the mental space to put words on paper on a regular basis. It helps you build a habit of writing, which is essential if you want to be productive. It can help you beat writer's block. A daily writing practice keeps the creative juices flowing.

I learned this the hard way: I worked at it. Literally. I've been working as a full-time writer for the past eight years now (the teaching I do is on the side). Believe me, when it's your job to write every day, you do it. You have to. It's the only way to meet deadlines. Projects arise that are unscheduled but that need to be finished quickly. You get words-on-the-brain syndrome. You start editing and proofreading everything you see, even if it isn't work-related. You think about how you'd do it better.

What's interesting is that after a few years of writing daily, even though it was at someone else's request and fitting their needs (also known as ghostwriting), I started to find more passion and energy to work on my own writing projects. That's one reason that I say writing every day, even if you do a little of it, can help you defeat writer's block. It's like training your subconscious to be more connected to your conscious actions. It does work, at least for me.

Now, I'll also mention that writing full-time is a good way to get practice hours under your belt. In his book Outlier, Malcolm Gladwell suggests that we need at least 10,000 hours of practice to become good at something. As a full-time writer, I've gotten over 16,000 hours under my belt so far. But even if you don't write for eight hours a day, the minutes or hours you can spend will add up. The most important thing isn't the time you spend, but the regular habit of fitting writing into your daily life, so that it becomes part of you, like sleeping or breathing.

And keep this in mind too: regular practice is what shows you what is working in your writing and what isn't. It helps you fine-tune sentence structure and word choice. It gives you opportunities to try new techniques, to experiment and have fun. To play as well as to work.

Since I believe so much in writing every day, I'm giving you a 30-something day challenge:

Let's all write something, no matter how short, every day. Start today and go through the end of February. Share how it's going here on the blog or on the ChipperMuse Facebook page or on Twitter. We can encourage each other to write, and at the end of February, we'll see how the practice of daily writing has impacted our creativity and productivity. And since it takes 30 days to develop a habit, this challenge can help you become more consistent in how you make time to write. So... good news all around, right?

I think you'll be pleased with the results. And I can't wait to hear about it, so be sure to stop by and share. In the meantime, happy writing!

Copyright (c) 2013 by M.A. Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

6 comments:

  1. This is a great idea. Count me in :)

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    1. Excellent! Glad you're joining in, and looking forward to hearing how it goes for you.

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  2. As fate would have it, that's pretty much what I have decided this year. I'm backing away from networking and promotion, and planning on allowing the writing to do the work for me. We'll see how it goes. With my schedule, writing every day is very tough; however, so far I have been doing a really good job of it. I'll have to come back in February and reveal how it went.
    -Jimmy

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    1. How funny, Jimmy! Talk about perfect timing for this idea. I look forward to hearing how it goes for you.

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  3. Just came across this post, and I totally agree. I committed to daily writing by signing up for the January Challenge with 750words.com and it has certainly worked for me. The discipline of writing every day, no matter what, has really made a difference to my writing. Viable excuses not to write this month ranged from working full-time to having surgery but I just made it non-negotiable and surprised myself by how easy it was to find half an hour, even in a busy day, when I made it the number one priority. My writing has benefited and just as important for me, it has helped me to feel like a real writer, instead of 'an aspiring writer', and feeling like a real writer makes it easier to sit down and write - because that's what writers do!

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    1. That's great, Eve! I haven't tried 750words.com, but I think joining a writing challenge is a good way to keep ourselves accountable. And it's a good way to get encouragement too. And it's cool that you were able to write even in the midst of surgery and recovery. Impressed! Hope you are feeling better too! :)

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