With the advent of this year comes the opportunity to make a new resolution, and as a writer the most important resolution to make is to resolve to write every day in 2016.
If you want to be a writer, you must make writing a habit. It’s essential to keep your creativity at peak performance, but this isn’t possible if you take days, weeks, or months off while you wait for inspiration. The definition of inspiration is “the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.”
Inspiration Doesn’t Write
Inspiration is important to the creative process, but writers can’t survive on inspiration–they must write their ideas down. Inspiration is the first step, but it cannot create the written word. The written word must be written and that requires a commitment from the writer.
The Write Every Day Tool
One useful tool that I use is Jerry Seinfeld’s “Don’t Break the Chain” Calendar. According to an article from the Writer’s Store, Seinfeld developed a system to help him write every day. Every January 1st, he would hang a year-calendar on the wall and mark a big red “X” on each day that he spent writing. His pleasure at seeing the chain of red Xs day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to month motivated him to write every day so as not to break the chain.
If this appeals to you, you can download a free copy of Seinfeld’s calendar and print it out for your use.
Practice Makes Perfect Writing
As a child, I learned that in order to get better at playing the piano I had to practice every day. I can still hear my mother’s voice saying, “Practice makes perfect” and my teacher’s voice saying, “If you want to get better, practice, practice, practice!” This discipline was instilled in me from an early age and I’m thankful for it. When I first began my writing life, I thought inspiration was the key to successful writing. I wrote down my emotions, my feelings and my stories, but I never took it seriously until I became a professional writer. I had no idea that writing was such hard work. I never considered it work–it was fun!
Writing is Hard Work
I confused writing with imagination, which came so freely to my mind that I thought it would be easy. However, sitting down at the typewriter and later at the computer was not as fun or as freeing. I had to consider sentence structure, spelling, grammar, page breaks, transitions, beginnings, endings, etc. Every word stumped me. Every sentence taunted me. Every chapter accused me that it could be better.
I hadn’t considered that writing was such hard work. I thought it would just pour out of me perfectly written. I did not know that I had to practice writing to get better as a writer. It took many years of frustration and angst before I learned that in order to get better as a writer, I had to write every day.
According to author Ray Bradbury, “You must write every single day of your life…You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy head…may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”
Journal Writing is Good Practice
In order for me to stay focused as a writer and mark red Xs on my daily calendar, I write daily in a journal. I encourage all beginning writers to use a journal. Not only does it keep record of what has transpired in my life but it contains my thoughts and ideas as they come to me. As I have stated in a previous post, I use my journal to practice writing conversations, descriptions of settings, names of characters and, plot lines.
In addition to my journal, I write this blog. It requires a lot of discipline to come up with ideas and turn those ideas into a coherent and interesting article. I also try to write at least a chapter a day on my novel. The discipline of writing every day is essential, but I mix it up so that I’m always stimulated creatively.
I hope that as you enter 2016 and consider your writing goals that you will resolve to write every day.