Back in November, I wrote a piece boldly titled Writing every day: frankly, it's overrated. And yet, I've continued to see writers push the advice that writing every day is a must for someone to be a "real" writer. The most recent example was from horror writer Brian Keene. In a recent blog post, he stated:
"So let me explain to you what you NEED to do if you want to be a writer.
You need to write every day. [...]What makes you a writer is sitting in a chair every day and writing."
After reading this irritating little rant, I wondered what the post's comments looked like. Of the commenters who supported the above sentiment, only one was a woman. This got me thinking. I suddenly realized that all of other authors I could remember pushing the "write every day" advice were men, too - i.e. John Grisham, Stephen King, Brian Keene. So, I started to wonder if there is a gender gap to this advice.
Meaning, do most women writers also push this advice onto other writers, or are they open to more flexibility on the subject?
To answer this, I took my question directly to women authors on Twitter, Tumblr, and through email, asking for their opinion on the advice that writers must write every day to be a "real" writer. The feedback I received was wonderfully diverse, and many of the writers who responded had a lot to say on the subject.
Here's a summary of the great feedback I received from other women who write (some quotes edited for length).
Jenny Chapman - author of the book A Surprisingly Fluffy Bird and The Adventures of Algy Tumblr feed (http://adventuresofalgy.tumblr.com):
"I not only think it's OK not to write every day, I think it's ESSENTIAL! Not just because life happens, which it certainly does, and many other things may need attention, but especially because the brain needs "breathing" and resting time - and if given that, it will work quietly behind the scenes on your behalf, and produce better written work in the end. When revising work that's already written it's also essential to take time off to clear the head, and go back to it fresh - it certainly can look different that way! With respect, I've always thought that the idea that a writer has to write every day is utter nonsense :) I can't imagine why it has so much credence."
Femke - author of the Not a letter written today Tumblr feed (http://femfictie.tumblr.com):
"Personally, I don’t write every day. Honestly, I don’t have the time and energy for it. I have a full time job, I enjoy spending time with my family on weekdays and I need a lot of sleep, so I go to bed early. [...]
So, no, I don’t think it is necessary to write every day. And I don’t think there is shame in not being able (or wanting!) to write every day. Find a rhythm that suits you and don’t let others bully you into doing something you’re not comfortable with."
Carrie Green - author of the ROSES ARE RED short story collection (http://www.carriegreenbooks.com):
"Writing every day is ideal, but in terms of having a happy relationship, I do avoid the computer on the weekend, generally [...] but in a perfect world, I'd love to follow Stephen King's schedule (4 hours, every day). For the sake of editing, however, giving your writing some distance by not working weekends, may be helpful."
Angela Slatter - author of Sourdough and Other Stories (http://www.angelaslatter.com):
"I'm not a writer who writes every day and I like to think I'm still a 'real' writer. [...] I think 'write every day' is a rubric that's got out of control; it works for some, not for others. [...]
You should always try different techniques to keep things fresh and to avoid ruts, but if the system is working for you then stay with it! When it stops working, then try something new. Talk to other writers, gather knowledge about their techniques because maybe you'll find something interesting."
Tonya Todd - author of Purrfect Diversion (http://www.purrfectdiversion.com):
"I think it's okay to miss a day or two, but I don't. I'm kind of obsessive about it though."
Sondi Warner - author of the Writer People Problems blog on Wrought Iron Reads (http://www.wroughtironreads.org):
"I write everyday out of necessity. I'm a freelance writer, so words pay the bills. However, I think it's vital to miss a day or two when you can because burnout is real. Rest your mind and write again another day."
So, don't just take my word for it, take other authors' words for it: there is no one-size-fits-all way to write. Writing every day is not a must for every writer.
If you write every day, I applaud you! I'm glad that it has worked out for you. It's just not for everyone.
I don't write every day, and I don't feel bad about it. Writing 4 or 5 days out of 7 is what works for me. Writing even less frequently than that may work for you. Find what works for you, and run with it. Never let another writer tell you it's the wrong way to write how you write.
Many thanks to everyone who gave me their input on this debate!