There’s a rumor out there that the only way to be a successful writer is to write every single day no matter what. I hear this way more from men than I do from women, which tempts me to push this nonsense off to a gender issue. Tempting, but I don’t want to go there more than I do already.
A truth is when I first started writing I did write every day. In fact, after I got my kids off to school I’d take me to the nearest diner and write on a yellow legal tablet while drinking buckets of coffee until I could trust myself to go home and type, not go back to bed. And yes, it was long enough ago so that typewriters were our only option.
Of course on weekends I couldn't make the kids disappear until they were older. Sometimes I could write while they tore up the house, more often I had to give it up to the required mothering.
Which is exactly when I began to suspect the admonition I write every day was nothing but a canard.
but… you do have to write!
But… if you really want to be a writer you've simply got to write! Absolutely nothing writerly will happen if you don’t put pen or pencil to paper or hands to the keyboard. How often and when to write is up to you. These days I tend to write close to daily. When I skip a day or even a week I trust myself to get back to the writing. It wasn't always so; I’ve earned that trust. I have gone for much longer periods, like when I sailed in the South Pacific for 5 months — another story.
If you’re having trouble writing regularly, try making writing appointments with yourself a week at a time. On the days you choose to write, note the time and length of time you intend to write. At the end of the week look at what you've actually done. If you wrote when you said you would, great. Congratulate yourself and rinse and repeat until it becomes a habit. If you didn't keep to your schedule or darn close, think through why and what you need to adjust, and do it. Experiment until you have a schedule you can stick with.
While schedules can change, if you keep not being able to find the time, maybe it’s because you don’t really want to write, at least not at this point in your life. There’s no shame in that — becoming a writer is certainly not a requirement for a good life.
Giving up writing or saying you don’t want to write can be a great relief. I spent years saying I wanted to write mysteries. Even though my non-fiction output was steady, and included books, the imagined sexy woman detective story simply wouldn't come together for me.
One day it dawned on me that I didn't want to write that book, I wanted to have written it. Yes, a bit of a disappointment, but a major relief. Will I change my mind someday? Who knows, and in this moment it doesn't matter a bit.
Find your own writing rhythm no matter what it looks like. You and the world will be better off.
Write well and often if it’s truly your thing,