First Rule of Write Club: Write every day.

by | Feb 21, 2024 | write club

Why we write every day

At some point when you sit down to commune with the muse, the saboteur that lives in your brain will ask, “Why do we have to write every single day?”

I don’t mean to quote the annoying grownup from your childhood, but the answer is “because I said so.”

Want proof? 

“The writer must have a good imagination to begin with, but the imagination has to be muscular, which means it must be exercised in a disciplined way, day in and day out, by writing, failing, succeeding and revising.”

Stephen King


“Work begets work. Small actions lead us to the larger movements in our creative lives. Take one small daily action instead of indulging in the big questions.”

Julia Cameron

When I need to tackle something difficult and overwhelming, something fuzzy that I can’t quite make out, I’m big on the “one-a-day” principle for achieving just about anything. Small steps lead to big achievements.

One-a-days, or “streaks” as the kids call them, work. That’s why so many apps use them. They know we get a shot of happiness (aka, dopamine) when we keep the streak going. They also know we experience a dose of FOMO when we end a streak.

heading: Apps using streaks to control you with icons from duolingo, snapchat, worlde, fortnite

People will log in to a site they hate and don’t have time for just to keep that streak going! Big social media uses your psychological proclivity for streaks to control your behavior. Why shouldn’t you? Take that daily attention back and apply it to your craft, your life’s work. Only you know what that is. Mine’s writing. 

Professional writers have a practice.

A couple years ago, like many women who looked around and said “WTF?” I fell down the Brené Brown wormhole. (Have you done that yet? Highly recommend. You’ll come out another person.) She taught me lots, but one of my favorite things was a new understanding of the word practice.

“It would be reasonable to say that I have a yoga attitude. The ideals and beliefs that guide my life are very in line with the ideas and beliefs that I associate with yoga. I value mindfulness, breathing, and the body-mind-spirit connection. I even have yoga outfits. But, let me assure you, my yoga attitude and outfits don’t mean jack if you put me on a yoga mat and ask me to stand on my head or strike a pose. Where it really matters—on the mat—my yoga attitude doesn’t count for much.”

Practice in our daily lives is how we cultivate craft. That includes the craft of writing.

It’s funny she used the example of yoga because a couple years before the Brené Brown wormhole, I went down a yoga wormhole, and you know what my yoga teacher told me again and again and again? Get to the mat. Every. Single. Day. Every day doesn’t have to be a 2-hour yoga sesh, but visit that mat daily if you want any kind of results.

But it’s more than results. Practice impacts mindset. I am a writer. Writers gonna write. I write therefore I am . . . a writer. 

Even science says you have to write every day. Newton’s first law of physics: 

An object at rest remains at rest, and an object in motion remains in motion at constant speed and in a straight line unless acted on by an unbalanced force.

With no outside forces a moving ball will continue moving in the same speed and direction.

In other words, picking up where you left off yesterday is easier than restarting from a stop. That’s why even a bad daily writing session is better than no daily writing session.

What about well-practiced writers who have nothing more to learn?

Let me tell you something I’ve realized: Anytime I start thinking I have nothing more to learn on a subject, I know I’m about to be shown just how much I really don’t know. 

Perhaps like me, you are a professional who knows how to summon the muse at will and finish lots and lots of pieces of writing in a day. You probably don’t think you need to write every day. You have graduated from “writers gonna write” to “writers get paid to write,” and I’m not sure that’s true.

Hear me out.

According to Seth Godin, any hack can get paid to write, but we’re doing something else when we talk about craft. We’re truth-seeking.

cover of The Midnight Disease hardback book

If you’ve experienced any amount of failure in the area of creative writing (i.e., writing you create at will, with no external accountability to motivate you), and you keep coming back, I’m sorry to inform you, but you have the Midnight Disease. It’s chronic but treatable. You treat the Midnight Disease with a daily dose of practice. A writing sesh a day keeps the mental health professionals away.

Newton says the most difficult part is starting.

How do you survive the unbearable FIRST daily writing session?

Ah, I can help you with that, because I’ve been down these forking paths and returned with a flashlight to show you the way. Here’s how you do it.

tired cat with the words "Not today." on one side and "Yes today." on the other.

Step one. You have to make it downright easy. 

No, easier than that.

Like, collect pen and paper and put them at desk. Done. 

Tomorrow can be slightly more difficult. 

Don’t sigh at me. If you’ve been ignoring the muse for days, weeks, years, you need to woo them back slowly. 

Yes, I realize you’ve had 10K days. Here’s the thing. You didn’t start with a 10K day. You have to work back up to that. You’re out of shape, bruh. And that’s okay. Creators need rest. To everything, there is a season. What makes 10K days so extraordinary is their rarity. Runners don’t run marathons every day of their lives. Neither should writers.

Most of what we do in life, according to James Clear, is out of habit. If we make habits of the stuff we most wish we could do, we become the people we aspire to be.

So will you do it?

One tiny act in the direction of your life’s work, your craft? 

I designated 2024 the year I wake up my author career. The gradual awakening started with a daily writing practice. That led to a site refresh. And that led to this blog. 

The next step is another blog, which you can expect next Thursday. From now on, blogging on Thursdays is a practice of mine. 

Want to join me in my return to a daily writing practice? Or maybe just follow along as a spectator? Join my newsletter. You’ll get my weekly blog posts sent right to your inbox.


 

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