Positive Writer

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How To Become A Better Writer Every-Single-Day

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.

writing-creates-a-writer

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.

~Stephen King

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.

~Danielle Steel

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.

~Dan Brown

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.

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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.

About Bryan Hutchinson

I'm a positive writer and when that doesn't work, I eat chocolate. I help fellow writers overcome doubt and thrive! In my free time, I love visiting castles with my wife, Joan. Join me on Twitter and Facebook.

  • The urge to procrastinate is only human, and we all have to struggle with it to some degree.

    So where does it come from?

    Of course, one part is plain and simple laziness. Moving things want to keep on moving, static things want to stay static. You can only break through this by forcing yourself to become a liiiittle bit active, and this activity will then feed upon itself and lead to a liiiittle bit more activity – until you are in full movement and enjoying it! All the self-help books in the world might motivate you and let you see this cause/effect clearer, but in the end, there is only one solution: You have to start moving for yourself!

    Another reason for procrastination is fear, or, to put it in a different way,overly perfectionism. You want to get it out really, really well, and you are afraid it might not come out as well as you had wished. You prefer not to have something written to having something written and not be completely happy with it. Well, it should be the other way around.

    We are living in an outcome-orientated society, as opposed to a process-orientated one. But don’t let society fool you: The process, the development, is still the most important thing. When you just hop on that ride, you will certainly see some results. When you don’t, it’s guaranteed you won’t see any. So relax and take it as it comes: In the end, hard work always pays off…

    • Jiche

      Thanks,Alex..this is a timely piece for me….

    • Well said, Alex. I’m a pro at procrastination! It seems to come naturally to me. 🙂

  • Bryan, I recently found your site and I’m loving it! Thank you for all your encouraging words and ideas.

    Alex, well said! I fall into your second camp–perfectionism. It’s like I’m afraid to jump into or onto the page because I’m scared about what will come up there and that it will confirm I’m a fraud when It comes to writing. I have no issue writing feature stories, the fear is with my own work. I’m determined to push through it and learn that through the crap that may make its way onto the page will be something worthwhile.

  • BRoder

    Since I have committed to writing 500 words daily… faithful now day 87;!! I find myself motivated to put words on paper or screen. I write whatever is ready to be spoken. Often times I end up with it being one long prayer. At first I thought this was not a good thing!~ I stopped second guessing myself and know that this is a process on the journey that is leading me closer and closer the writer’s life.
    I am continually encouraged by your writing and suggestions. Thank you BH:)

  • jiche

    Thank you for this article,BH… in my case, it’s the feeling of incapability that stops me to carry on with my WIP,and the fear of falling short of my own expectations.

    • I think we all have that fear, Jiche. I call it “Writer’s Doubt” and I wrote a book about it. 🙂 Keep plugging away, keep writing!

  • Kimberley Schuck

    I’ve been writing everyday since I was 12 and began my first diary. I never had a specific word goal, only that if I didn’t write an entry, I thought I’d explode! It was those simple, unedited words of feelings that gave me the confidence to explore fiction writing. I’ve been addicted since. Writing in my journal everyday is still my greatest source of story ideas. Honestly, I’ve never counted the amount of words I write, but it feels like thousands. This should prove to be a VERY interesting exercise!! Thank you, BH!

    • I love journal writing, too. It’s what got me started. I’m sure you’ve written tens of thousands!

  • Thanks for the challenge. 🙂 I’m glad you mentioned that bit about a personal quota. It’s good to know.

    • It’s very helpful, even if you only write gibberish for however many words you’re trying to reach. The gibberish will eventually give way to meaning. Trust. Keep writing!

  • Kimi

    Exactly where I’m at right now Brian! I’m on day 8 of My 500 Word challenge, and it’s definitely been a challenge to write everyday, but the habit is forming. 🙂
    Great post, I will be sharing!

    • Awesome! Keep at it. 8 days is already quite an accomplishment!

      • Kimi

        Thanks! Struggling a bit this morning but I’ll get there, thanks for your encouragement. 🙂

  • Marcy Mason McKay

    Hi Bryan – when I’m writing a new novel, I write 5 never pages everyday (about 1,250 words). Danielle Steele blew me away. My mind can only hold one story at at time. Still the common denominator between all three is that they write EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. (just like your title says). Thanks!

    • Yeah, she totally blows me away, too. 20 hours a day? Well, no wonder she’s written so many books. However, it doesn’t help to compare ourselves to such über-talented people. I just wanted to demonstrate that even the best of the best write every day. Keep writing! 1,250 words is awesome!

      • Marcy Mason McKay

        OMG! I’m so glad I misread that in your post — I saw 20 hours a WEEK about Danielle Steele. I thought…I do more than that.

        No WONDER she can write four to five books at once. That’s too much for me. Publishing is a priority for me, but so is living a life beyond my characters.

        • For me, too! Hey, btw, got your message. I’ll get back to you soon.

          • Marcy Mason McKay

            Excellent, Bryan. Thanks so much.

  • Teresa Edmond

    This is an excellent post! There’s no way around it — a writer has to write everyday.

  • Bryan – thanks for beating this drum….it is a clarion call which I needed to hear…loudly and clearly…in the process of regaining some focus! Very much appreciated!

  • Ratan

    Hi Bryan, yes, I do not write every single day, in fact these days I am not sure if I am able to write every week, but the fact is that I have a broad framework ready for what I want to write and I want to be writing and I am unable to do it, which isn’t a great feeling!

    • I hate that feeling, too, Ratan. I’ve had it too much lately, that’s why I wrote this post as a call-to-arms. Surprisingly, it’s helping! I hope it helps you a little too. I’m currently working on a follow up post with specific tips for writing every day.

  • Mai

    Hello, Bryan. I’ve been reading your blog sometime now, but I think it’s the first time that I left a comment. Anyway, this is really a great reminder to flex those writing muscles every day, though I admit that this is not an easy thing to do. I’m struggling to write every day, but I want to make this a habit so I trudge on no matter what. 🙂

    • Trudge Mai, trudge on. I’m trudging, too. So we are in this together. 🙂

  • Flinty Maguire

    Writing every day is a credo, which isn’t for me. Writing is work. A surgeon doesn’t operate every day and I wouldn’t want her to either. Thinking, walking, helping, loving – I do these things every day. Anyway, when anyone tells me I have to do something, I shut down!

    • I hear you. Writing is work, very hard work. But it does get easier the more frequent you do it. Of course, you don’t have to do anything, that’s totally up to you. Consider the post a call to arms for me more than for anyone else, I’ve been slacking on my writing lately and needed to get back to work, writing.

      • Flinty Maguire

        I’ve always gone to work, worked as hard and as effectively as I can. That’s all anyone can do. Writing is a nicer (and easier) job (for me) than working in a soulless corporation. To be honest, it embarrasses me when it’s inferred that writing is somehow mystical and profound. Writing is mechanical. It’s the thinking and the sharing of thoughts that is interesting – and people do this in many ways, every day.

        • Well Flinty, what you write sounds rather mystical and profound. I enjoy the flow of your writing, even here in the comments. 🙂

          • Flinty Maguire

            Ah, game to you. I will write every day, including Christmas and New Year!

  • Miriam N

    Thanks for the reminder Bryan. I’ve been slaking lately and its a great reminder to call me back to writing.

    • Hey, we all do it, Miriam. This post was just as much a reminder to me!

  • Vicky Cox

    Too much doubt and fear has kept me from writing. I’ve given myself permission to write the “crap” because right now, no one else will see it. I’m working on building that habit of 500 words a day. Sometimes it’s 0, but some days, it’s over 2000.

    • I have 0 days, too. But those 2000 days sure do make it worth it, don’t they? Hang in there Vicky, you’ll reach your goals! And don’t worry, doubt won’t win. I know. I wrote a book about it. 🙂

  • Ever since you mentioned daily writing in a previous post, I’ve managed to keep it up. This week alone I’ve managed to write 4000 words for several different articles. I have 160 article ideas waiting to be written and it seems that every day I manage to find inspiration for new articles – once I forced myself to start, it seems the rest took care of itself; thank you for the help! 🙂

    Toni

  • Willow Renner

    Great article that needs repeating to all writers from beginning to seasoned. I’ve written down a 6 day writing week schedule. I think I deserve 1 day off. Danielle Steel’s 20 hours a day just blows me away. I couldn’t give up that much sleep. I do work on multiple manuscripts at a time though.

    • Danielle Steel blew me away, too! It’s great to keep a schedule. I find that helps me tremendously.

  • Douglas R Kiba

    Thanks Bryan! I was just sitting down under a tree, thinking about how I’ve been losing discipline when it comes to writing consistently. I open my mail and find your newsletter and bam! I’m motivated to quit slacking and focus on reading and writing more instead of losing my mind on trivial issues that shouldn’t take so much of my day.
    Love!

    • Ha! Trivial issues do take too much of our day. Sometimes we need a good swift… 🙂

  • Good reminder that we won’t become better writers without regularly writing. Thanks Bryan. And I find the My 500 Word group has been good for that very reason. For 238 days straight I have written 500 words a day. Sometimes much more than 500. And a lot of posts, and even Children’s stories have come out of this.

    • Holy smokes, Anne! 238 days??? That’s absolutely, positively, amazing! You go girl.

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