Writing Every…Single…Day

This past month I came the closest I’ve ever come to breaking…THE STREAK. The Streak, for those of you who have not heard of its legend, is the number of consecutive days I’ve gone having written for at least one hour. The Streak now stands at an awe-inspiring four years (and one month). It almost didn’t happen. Earlier this month I hit a rough patch where I was between projects, the weather was nice so I was spending more time outside with my kid, and work sucked so I was depressed and just wanted to lay around and watch Nick Cage movies (yup…it got THAT bad…). Luckily my system kept the words flowing and saved THE STREAK to die another day.

Now I know some writers are adamantly against the “You must write every single day!” rule (hippies mostly), but I need to. I am a workhorse writer. I know how easy it is for a day to become a week and then a week a month and pretty soon you don’t even remember the name of your own protagonist. I’ve been there. Four years ago I started the journey toward earning my MA in Creative Writing so I wanted to take my writing more seriously, which meant doing it every single day. And thus THE STREAK was born. It’s four years later and I have my MA in Creative Writing, and THE STREAK is still alive.

So if you’re one of these “I write when I feel like it” folks now would be a good time to piss off. If you’re interested in starting a streak of your own, here are some tips on writing every single freakin’ day.

1) Start a Writer’s Journal

The best advice I have for any potential streaker is to start a writer’s journal. A writer’s journal is different from a regular journal in that it is not about you; it’s about your writing. Instead of whiny rambling about how miserable my life is and how no one understands me, I use my writer’s journal to house potential story/character ideas, outline stories, write about a recent success/failure, write down dreams I might want to mine for story ideas later, list my writing goals, review books I’ve read, or just ramble about how miserable my life is and how no one understands me (sometimes you just need to).

I highly recommend keeping a brick-and-mortar journal (pen and paper) rather than an online journal because writing by hand is a different kind of writing and you need that sometimes. Plus, if you can’t get in front of a computer, it’s a great way to score an easy hour right before bed, thus keeping your streak alive. If you don’t feel like writing that day, write an entry about how you don’t feel like writing that day. What’s stopping you? What would you rather be doing? How can you overcome your sudden aversion to the written word? That’s why a writing journal is so important: it keeps you writing even when you don’t want to. Plus, it’s a great place to store all the ideas you swear you’ll remember (because they’re so awesome) before you forget them in five minutes.

2) Set goals

This is pretty much my advice for everything. Set a weekly minimum for how many hours you want to write. Then do it for the month. Then do it for the year. Then come up with a plan to meet those goals. I started with very modest goals and have since upped the ante over the years. Right now I have a minimum weekly goal of 14 hours (two hours a day), but I usually average around 20. That’s another thing: Keep your goals realistic. If I was a professional writer, I’d be putting in 40+ hours a week. The reality is that I have a full-time job, a young son who I watch when my wife is at work, and a yard to mow and home to maintain. Writing is what I do in addition to everything else I do.

If you’re in the same situation (and if you’re reading this blog I assume you are) then set realistic goals for your current situation. Start off easy; you can always increase your hours if you need to. Set goals and when you reach those goals, celebrate. Take yourself out for a nice dinner or get wasted and start a fight at a TGI Fridays or watch your favorite movie. Celebrate yourself when you deserve it and kick yourself in the ass when you need to.

3) Stay Busy!

The best way to keep yourself writing is to always have something going on. You should be working on multiple projects at all times and try to keep your portfolio diverse. The main reason I started blogging was to give myself another outlet for my writing. I always like to be writing a story and revising a story simultaneously (and never the same story). Usually I try to make those pieces one longer piece (a novel) and then a shorter piece (short story or screenplay). That way if I get bored with a project, instead of just not writing I work on my other project. That’s the same reason why I run this blog, a movie blog, and keep a writer’s journal. I never have an excuse to not write because I always have something going on. It’s those post-project periods that are the most dangerous for a streaker so it’s best to jump right into another project while that novel settles.

The last advice I have that is not real advice but it is the reality for any streaker is that you must kill every other thing (thing…not person) that you care about. Any other pastime or hobby that you have has got–to–go. There are only so many hours in the day. In order to carve out daily writing time you may have to stop attending your crocheting club or sleeping in on Saturdays or binge watching old 1960’s Batman reruns right before bed. If you’re serious about writing, then everything else has got to go. It’s the sad truth, but it’s necessary.

There’s lots more, but this will at least get you started. Here’s to…THE STREAK!


~ by themoderntranscendentalist on June 30, 2014.

2 Responses to “Writing Every…Single…Day”

  1. Doug, I always enjoy your blog posts, but this one really hit home. I started a “streak” of my own (kind of a mini version) to plot the 40 days before my 40th birthday. Once I made that commitment to myself I had to keep it going. It’s been a challenge, but a good one, I think. So many days before this I’ve pushed my writing under the proverbial door mat and did other things that are not typically as important as writing (surfing Facebook, grading papers). But, you know what, I’ve been writing. Every. Day. And even though it hasn’t been four years, it has been a month and I haven’t missed a day. I’ve also kind of liked it! I hope I’m where you are in a few years from now, talking about my own streak. Thanks for the inspiration and for the suggestions of other ways to fulfill the commitment to writing. May the streak live on!

    • There are always so many other things to do other than writing (especially when you’re a teacher). Making that effort to write every single day can keep you focused and writing when there are a million other things you could be doing. Congrats on the start of your streak! May it live forever!

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