To write every day is a useful but predictable piece of advice for aspiring writers.
From Jodi Picoult to Haruki Murakami, authors often associate a successful writing career with daily writing. It’s a useful tip because it’s practical, conventional, and easy enough to understand.
This advice, however, teaches you to value only the quantity of your writing—to measure only how many blog posts you can publish in a week, or how many articles you can submit in a month.
Conversely, it can be argued that the focus should be on the quality of your writing, rather than the quantity. Sure, the article may be the best 1,500 words you’ve written to date, but if it took you three weeks to write it, you’ll start falling behind on your other work.
So what if we take “write every day” to the next level?
Instead of focusing on quantity or quality, you should grow as a consistent writer––someone committed to writing consistent content on a predetermined schedule.
The difference between consistent writing and daily writing is centered on routine: Daily writing is a commitment to writing every day of the week, regardless of burnout or writer’s block. Consistent writing, on the other hand, is dedication to writing on selected days, allowing room for rest when needed.
Being a consistent writer teaches you how to plan, organize, and execute what you write in a way your audience, or even clients, will appreciate. It enables you to finish assignments or projects and gives you a timetable to do it. Most importantly, you understand that to have a successful writing career, it takes more than just writing every day.
It’s an incredible feeling to know you wrote 5,000 words in one day. If you managed to accomplish this feat for the first time, it could have been the best and hardest writing day of your life.
Could you repeat writing that amount every day around your family and full-time job?
Focusing on quantity––how many articles or creative pieces you can start, how many words you can write in a day, how many blog posts you can publish in a week––doesn’t guarantee that your work will be enjoyable. While it is impressive to write 5,000 words in one day, it doesn’t say much except that you have a lot of ideas. It doesn’t ensure that your ideas aren’t confusing and disorganized. It doesn’t even mean the work itself is complete.
More so if you’re a beginner writer, it’s crucial that you don’t hinge your writing career on how much you can accomplish in a short time frame. It takes time and sharpening of your other skills before you can reach that level.
Instead, devote your energy to discovering how much you can write and finish at your own pace. If it takes you three days to write 1,000 words, let that be a marker for how you set up your routine.
Quality, in every sense of the word, is essential. If you had to choose between reading two articles on the same topic, of course you’d select the article with fewer grammar mistakes and organizational issues.
However, many writers mistake perfectionism for quality. “Quality” refers to the degree of excellence in a product. “Perfection” is a state of a product devoid of flaws or defects. In trying to write high-quality content, many writers inherently attempt to rid their writing of all flaws, and in the process, spend too much time on one assignment or project. In truth, it’s not possible––every final product has its shortcomings regardless of how much time is spent on it. Perfection is the unrealistic expectation that your content has to be flawless in idea and execution. For many, it’s the difference between completing a manuscript and abandoning it.
My solution, therefore, is not to aim for “quality” when you’re writing regularly. Instead, worry first about shaping your ideas and completing the first draft.
Finishing the first draft allows you to write interesting content without prolonging the development stage. The key is to get a ton of maintenance done on your writing:
Only after sustaining this process—in other words, when you have achieved consistency—will you see the quality writing you aim for. It’s an organized, well-edited final product that follows its mission statement. Soon enough, you’ll start to naturally create high-quality writing without spending days agonizing over the first draft.
Before you can become a consistent writer, you have to identify your personal and business goals. How many blog posts do you want to publish per month? What’s your word count for your short story this week? What article are you writing for this month’s publication?
Knowing the answers to these questions is the foundation for consistent writing. You can design and execute your plans in order to realize your endgame.
Digital management tools can help you organize and track all your goals, however you want:
The objective is to manage what content you’re writing and when you want to accomplish each milestone.
If you want to start writing your novel, what’s your goal for July? What’s your projected word count? A planner and a calendar in this instance are useful for multiple reasons: A daily planner can help you ascertain how many words you can write in a day. A calendar can help you track what you planned and what you executed.
If you know what you can accomplish in a certain amount of time, that leads to consistent writing.
Sharrisse Viltus is a freelance writer based in Honolulu, Hawai’i. She specializes in blog writing and feature articles about marketing, writing, entertainment, and traveling. Before becoming a freelance writer, she graduated from Bridgewater State University with a B.A in English and Public Relations. When she isn't working on her own creative writing projects, you can find her napping at the beach. Visit her website at http://sharrisseviltus.com.