To a large extent, writing on a daily basis can be one of the best ways to cultivate our skills as authors. Seemingly every major novelist, poet, or playwright has their own daily schedule for writing.
For Stephen King, for example, a daily writing routine is simply a part of life. Seven days a week, King writes 2000 words per day. Whether writing that amount takes him 30 minutes or six hours, King does not finish his work for the day without hitting his goal of writing 2000 words.
Finding a Balance
2000 words is a lot. For many people, that amounts to around 10 pages of writing per day. That is practically a college end-of-term assignment to complete seven days per week! Most of us cannot afford to devote ourselves to writing full-time; getting down 2000 words per day would consequently be very difficult indeed.
In many ways, however, it isn’t so much the word count that matters so much as the routine that we cultivate around the act of writing. For example, we might emulate the great novelist Graham Greene and write only 500 words per day. By his own admission, Greene often tended to work only a little over an hour per day on writing. But you can bet that Greene made that hour count.
Using Positive Reinforcement
To make writing a daily habit, we have to be realistic about what we can do. Setting ourselves up for failure by overextending ourselves is a bit like committing to a daily running habit by promising to run a marathon every day of our lives. That kind of intensity and commitment just isn’t going to work for most of us.
Worse, overextending ourselves early on will practically give us a phobia of writing. We’ll find ourselves procrastinating just to get away from the dread of facing a blank page each day! And who wants to make writing a chore? Don’t we write because we’re passionate about literature?
There is nothing wrong with being realistic about our daily writing schedule. Starting small can help us to develop a sense of writing discipline and enjoyment that will enable us to get big word counts later on. The important thing is that we’re honing our skills each and every day.
Simply put, if you’re procrastinating to an excessive degree, cut yourself some slack and assign yourself a daily amount of writing that works for you. After all, writing is for many people a passion. Why should we make the act of writing miserable? As with many things in life, using positive reinforcement is a far more effective plan of attack than using negative reinforcement. Make the writing process a pleasure: You’ll thank yourself when you see your skills start to improve!