Every writer wants the process of writing to be easy. We want our writing to pour forth as if from an inexhaustible reservoir. We all want our first and only drafts to become bestsellers. And we want our readers to not only get us, but to never get enough of us. When we show up for readings, Madison Square Garden wouldn’t be big enough to hold all of our loyal fans.
Deep down inside we know what we really-really want.
We all want to become bestselling authors.
And that’s all well and good, but before that happens, before the bright lights and throngs of readers eager to get your autograph show up, there’s something every writer on God’s green earth must come to terms with:
Writing is hard work and must be done daily.
A writer doesn’t only write when motivated. A writer doesn’t only write when inspired. And a writer most certainly doesn’t only write when the muse pays a visit. The muse is far too fickle, so stop waiting for it.
If we’re willing to admit it (I raise my hand), at some point we all have dreams of writing the next blockbuster, such as the next Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, or the next The Shining by Stephen King, or the next The Gift by Danielle Steel, but not every writer is willing to put his or her butt in the chair and write every-single-day.
How to become a better writer
You have an important story to tell and no one can tell it but you. But writing every now and then, only when the urge comes to you, when you feel inspired, or especially motivated, isn’t enough.
A writer must discipline herself to write every day, rain or shine, inspiration or no inspiration – good, bad or ugly. That’s how we become better writers, by writing every day. (And that’s what I’ve struggled with. Maybe you have, too?)
What do Stephen King, Daniel Steel, and Dan Brown have in common?
Bestselling authors, Stephen King, Daniel Steel, and Dan Brown do not simply show up whenever they feel good and ready, and write merely on a whim. That’s not how it works. They write every day, whim or no whim.
Stephen King sets out each day with a quota of 2000 words and will not stop writing until it is met. (Source)
Read and write four to six hours a day. If you cannot find the time for that, you can’t expect to become a good writer.
Danielle Steel writes for 20 hours a day while writing four or five books at the same time. (Source)
I eventually sit down to write the book, and when I do that I pretty much lock myself up for about a month and do only that for about 20 hours a day. I’m usually working on four or five books at once.
At least Dan Brown remembers to take breaks. He writes 7 days a week, beginning at 4am, with an antique hour glass on his desk to remind him to take hourly exercise breaks. (Source)
If I’m not at my desk by 4 AM, I feel like I’m missing my most productive hours.
The Power of Inspiration
It’s great to feel inspired to write, but the power of inspiration alone does not create a writer. Writing creates a writer.
The power of inspiration alone does not create a writer. Writing creates a writer.
If you want to write that book you’ve been meaning to write:
Start writing, every day.
I’ve found that it helps to have a personal quota. Consider creating a fixed number of words to write each day and don’t stop writing until you’ve met your quota (or more), perhaps 500 words as Hemingway did (source), or 2000 words as Stephen King writes per day. Of course, it’s up to you how many words you write, but whatever you do:
Write. Every. Day.
Do you write every day rain or shine? Share with us in the comments.