A Manageable Daily Writing Commitment

Today’s word count: 835
Today’s writing: flowing
My energy level: low, really tired today

We must make art for the sheer sake of making art. That is being true to our nature. That is being true to our path. — Julia Cameron, in Finding Water, p. 107

I was tempted to blow off writing completely today. Not just the blog, but my NaNoWriMo writing, too. Instead of skipping it entirely, I decided to allow myself to do only a little writing instead. This is a relatively new idea for me, but it works.

Back when I first realized I was in serious trouble with the book I’ve been working on, I took a complete break from writing. I got grouchy quickly. Of course I was upset about my book, but it was more than that. I wanted to be writing but couldn’t deal with my book, or the computer, or even writing by hand. Eventually I was desperate enough to get out my old manual typewriter and fill a few pages of paper with it. Even though it’s hard to use since the keys don’t match the computer keyboard I’m used to, something about putting black type directly on paper feels great. It reminds me of the fun writing I did as a kid, and how exciting it was to see my words typed, looking like a story in a book.

When I was done with my typewritten rant, I realized once again that I can’t ignore my writing and expect to be a healthy or happy person. I don’t know why this is true for me, except for the obvious reason that I am a writer at heart, but I do believe it. If I don’t spend some time every day writing something (anything!), I slowly turn into an irritable and depressed person. OK, maybe not so slowly. But it definitely happens.

Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way and other wonderful books on creativity, suggests doing just a little when you don’t feel like you can do anything at all. For me, that means spending at least fifteen minutes each day on my writing. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but fifteen minutes counts. It’s long enough for me to write at least a few paragraphs. Sometimes it leads to a longer bout of writing, but sometimes it doesn’t. Either way, it does something key for me. It makes it possible for me, at the end of my day, to be able to answer the question “Did I write today?” with a big “yes”.

Surprisingly, just fifteen minutes a day of writing is the difference between a happy me and a crazy me. Because it is such a small amount of time, it’s always possible to get around to writing. Even though it’s just a small amount of time, that little bit of writing reminds me that I am a writer, and that I care enough to spend time writing. It also gets whatever I am working on another page closer to finished.

NaNoWriMo is a great way to train yourself to write daily, but the time commitment can require sacrifices and serious neglect of yourself and others. A less ambitious daily goal might work better for those who are overwhelmingly busy with the rest of their life, but still want to be writing.

If you haven’t tried this, I highly recommend it. Find a way to spend a little time every day pursuing your dream, whatever it may be. Writing, painting, music… Anything you want with all your heart to be doing and don’t seem to do at all. Give it just fifteen minutes a day. Promise yourself you will. And see what great things it can lead to.

3 thoughts on “A Manageable Daily Writing Commitment”

  1. “MANAGEABLE” is the key. See, I didn’t follow that and am paying for it dearly! I went days without writing – days!! Still pluggin away though.
    Congrats on your success so far! Keep writing : )

    1. Sorry to hear you are struggling, but don’t give up. Building that manageable daily routine can lead to lots and lots of words over time (whether it is November or any other month of the year).

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