On this week's episode of the podcast, I'm talking about a topic that’s a little controversial: how much you ‘need’ to write in order to be an author. If you've ever been told that 'true' authors need to write everyday, then this episode is for you. I'll share why that's just not true. You'll also hear my story about how I used to think I needed to write every day, how that physically hurt me, and how I recovered and realized that writing every day is NOT a requirement for being an author. In this episode:
- Why you don’t need to write every day to be an author
- The difference between writing daily and writing consistently
- Why writing consistently is better than writing constantly
- How I write more and better while only writing on weekends
- The story shared in this episode: how writing every day actually harmed me, and how I rebounded from that to find healthier, more focused writing time
"One of my biggest beliefs is that there is no wrong way to write. However you write is a great way to do it. But you shouldn’t sacrifice your personal health, or your creative health, in order to get the writing done. The important thing is to write consistently."
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You can also listen on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Soundcloud, and more. Find links to all the apps here. If you like listening to the audio on video, you can also watch via my YouTube channel, or just read the transcript for the episode, too (you'll find it at the bottom of the page). You can also support the podcast (and me!) on Patreon!
After you listen, join our podcast community on Facebook or comment below and let me know: What is your definition of ‘consistent’ writing? How often do you write, and does that process work for you?
If writing consistently is something you struggle with, I’ve got something to help you – my free writing challenge called How to Write Faster in 14 Days. I’ll share additional tips and techniques that help me finish 3-4 books per year while writing mostly on weekends. This challenge is free and delivered via email once you sign up for my newsletter, which you can do below.
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[00:00:00] On this week's episode of the podcast, I'm talking about a topic that's a little controversial, how much you "need" to write in order to be an author. If you've ever been told that "true" authors need to write every day, then this episode is for you and I'll share why that's just not true. You'll also hear my story about how I used to think I needed to write every day, how that physically hurt me, and how I recovered and realized that writing every day is not a requirement for being an author.
[00:00:33] You may write alone, but you are not alone. Inside the Writer's Soul focuses on how personal experiences can inform your writing and help you speak from the soul to really connect with readers and other authors as well. Your writer's soul doesn't need to take the writing and publishing journey alone. Join me, your host, M. Khan, and let's move forward together.
[00:01:00] Hello and welcome to another episode of the podcast. Today we're talking about why you don't need to write every day in order to be an author. I'm actually going to start out by sharing a story which begins at the end of 2015. Though I don't celebrate Christmas, I always love that sense of the holiday season. At the end of the year, I love the food, and the community, and the sense of togetherness, and I love having a few extra days off of work. At the end of 2015, I was enjoying time off not only from my day job, but my side jobs as well. Now I say enjoy but, really, I was recovering because even though 2015 was my most prolific year to date, it also set the stage for health issues I'd battle in the years to come. Within two years, in fact, I'd ventured from writing and publishing the most books in a year to publishing none at all.
[00:02:04] Since I first started writing, I'd always been told from a variety of sources that to really be an author, I needed to write nearly every day. Well known authors like Stephen King and Nora Roberts often do it, and even a lot of other newbie authors were doing it. So I listened to the voices that said, you know, all of these amazing authors are doing it, so you need to write every day to be as good as them and to eventually make as many sales as time. If you want to be considered an "author", you need to write every day. In 2015, I wrote five books, which included four novels and one novella, and I ended up publishing six books overall for the year, which included a novel I'd finished up in late 2014. So I published six books, but I felt completely miserable. By the end of 2015, forcing myself to write every day had produced a lot of words, but at what cost to my personal health? My hands were sore, my tendons were aching, and my back hurt from straining over a keyboard, and forget about trying to write anything by hand, I couldn't even manage that either. Even something as simple as a to do list for the day became a challenge.
[00:03:28] Yet, I wanted to be a writer. I wanted that badge and that moniker. I wanted to be taken seriously. So I continued to write, continue to push and push myself until things came to a head in 2017. By the time 2017 rolled around, I was drained, empty. I had no more creative juice, and the forces in my life who don't support me in my daily life, or don't know or support my author life, were draining me, too. I was depleted physically, emotionally, spiritually and creatively. I couldn't live like this anymore and something had to change. I didn't publish anything in 2017, but I vowed that 2018 would be different. At the end of that year and into 2018, I did a deep introspection of my life. I thought about the beliefs I held about writing and analyzed the relationships in my life. For me, it came down to this: trying to write every day just didn't work for me. While it might work for other authors, and I'm so happy for you if it does, truly I am, for me, it just wasn't working. And for a lot of authors, being able to write every day was also their full-time job. Writing was my second full-time job, and I also needed to prioritize my health and my day job, too. I needed to prioritize me, something we often don't do enough, do we?
[00:05:06] So I charted out what my ideal week would look like. I'm a fairly fast writer, but I decided that while writing five books a year might not be doable, I could still write three to four and maybe publish somewhere around the same. I started dictating my books to avoid some extra stress on my hands from typing, and I found editors who were understanding and willing to work with me on a flexible timeframe. As I recovered, my writing process changed in that I learned to become more focused when I sat down to write, and could actually write more easily and more easily recognized when I wasn't feeling creative, and that maybe I should focus on other author tasks in those moments. Before, I would have tried to push through and put something down on paper, but it would have been a struggle. Now I avoid the struggle and I actually get more writing done in less time. I told myself I could do it and I did.
[00:06:06] And I'm still a fucking writer. Even though I don't write every day, I always was. But I let the negative things people say become truth in my head. Those voices, internal and external, will often make you feel like less. It's your job to remember that you're more. It's okay not to write every day. If you can do it, great. I'm not saying you shouldn't if you can. One of my biggest beliefs is that there is no wrong way to write. However you write is a great way to do it. But you shouldn't sacrifice your personal health or your creative health in order to get the writing done.
[00:06:49] The important thing is to write consistently. If that means writing every day for you, that's great, but it doesn't have to. The majority of my writing time is on weekends and a rare weekday thrown in and I have time off from my day job. I still manage to write three to four books a year on that schedule and you can, too. You can still write on weekends or as inspiration strikes or in whatever way works for you and still be a writer.
[00:07:20] No one else can define our own process as writers, and no one else can decide if we're writers or not. Writing consistently is important, whatever your definition of consistently is. We should define ourselves, not let others define us. It doesn't matter what you write. Whether you self-publish or traditionally publish or don't publish at all. There's a lot of discrimination in the writing world about who "deserves" the title of professional writer or author, and it's all bullshit. Just because I self-publish doesn't make me any less of a writer, and my friends who are traditionally published aren't more of a writer than me. We're all writers because that's how we define ourselves and we should respect each other for it, not try to tear each other down. Obviously, this is a topic I feel very passionately about!
[00:08:19] If writing consistently is something you struggle with, I've got something to help you: my free writing challenge called "How to Write Faster in 14 days". I'll share additional tips and techniques that help me finish three to four books per year while writing mostly on weekends. Remember, there is no wrong way to write, but there are tips and techniques you can use to help you write more efficiently in a way that actually works with your creative process, not against it.
[00:08:50] Now I want to hear from you. What is your definition of consistent writing? How often do you write and does that process work for you? How to the blog and our community and share your thoughts. The link is in the show notes.
[00:09:04] Thank you for listening to this episode. Check out the show notes for links to my blog and our community where you can get involved in the discussion and support others. While you're there, don't forget to sign up for my newsletter to get to free and powerful tools to help you: 1) access to my growing library of free resources for authors and 2) you'll also get access to my exclusive writing challenge "How to Write Faster in 14 days", where I share all my tips and techniques that helped me finish over 20 works in five years. Check out the show notes for all the links and thanks again for being part of this community.