It was back in high school when I first heard a quote about the necessity of writing every day. I was young and impressionable and a bit prone to taking things literally. When I heard that I should be writing every day, setting a word count and reaching it, I took it at face value. I mean, it wasn’t as if it didn’t make any sense.
There was logic behind it. The more you do, the better you become.
Logically then, the more I wrote and the more frequently I wrote, the better I would become at it. Since I was (and still am) a very quick writer, I set my ambitions high. A little too high.
I wrote a minimum of 2,000 words a day but most days, ended up closer to 4,000. That was an unsustainable practice. One that didn’t actually help me be that much better of a writer though, it did help me nail down the more technical aspects to my writing.
Eventually, I burned out and abandoned my goal of writing every day. It felt terrible. I felt as if I had failed the test quizzing me on my ability to be a true writer. It only spiraled from there.
Recently though, I heard another quote. And it twisted my perception of the past three years of my writing career.
Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.Orson Scott
My brain churned. It chomped at the words, digested them, and spat out a new idea.
You don’t have to write to write every day.
Writing every day is simple, it’s about participating in life. It’s about opening our eyes to the magnificent power of the world around us. Put yourself, not in a boat, but in the open water, thirty feet from this whale. You’d lose your breath. You’d be pushed around the ocean, slack-jawed and amazed at the enormity of the world around you. It’d be impossible for you to ignore the story of the water, the air, the whale, the droplets of water flying off the whale.
Unfortunately, we tend to be caught up in the literal aspect of writing every day. The mania of daily living overwhelms us to the degree that we ignore the world around us. We neglect the opportunities presented to us.
To write every day, we need to see the stories around us.
It’s impossibly difficult to notice stories when our minds are occupied with worry, stress, and media. Shedding a certain amount of focus allows us to witness the world the way a child might.
Of course, this isn’t to say that we shouldn’t put pen to paper consistently or daily. We should as we need a way to work on the translation of the stories as much as the discovery of them. To me, they serve different purposes.
Physically writing every day makes you a more proficient writer. It teaches you to stick to your guns, finish your projects, and accomplish your goals. But it doesn’t open your eyes to the world.
Writing every day in the world is more about reading the stories presented. It’s an act of imagination and creativity. It teaches our brain to move fluidly through various ideas and storylines. It teaches us that “b” might not follow “a” and, because of that, we get an opportunity to create an organic story that truly comes from within us.
Experiencing the world is writing every day too.
Liberate yourself from the constant work of fine-tuning your physical writing. There is a time for that, always. When we sit down to get to work on editing, that’s when we should worry about the execution.
Instead, travel through the millions of places in the world around you. Experience the stories and train your senses. The more you notice, the more you can express in your writing, and the more entranced your reader becomes. Enjoy your journey as a writer and the reader will enjoy the adventure you’ve created.
As always, if you like it subscribe and share it and let me know…do you write every day? I make sure pen touches paper daily, but I’m more focused on understanding the world I live in so that I can draw my readers in, especially those who can’t experience the world around them.