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Its a bit like asking an astronaut if they spend every day in space. Of course they don't. They spend most of their time in preparation. The ratio of preparation to writing for writers is not quite so high as it is for astronauts, but the same principle applies. You need to have something to say before you put pen to paper and that requires reading, research, thinking, and just plain living and being alive and attentive in the world. Every day spent living is a day spent preparing to write.

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Agreed. There's no wasted time, really, as all of our experiences end up feeding into the writing, one way or another.

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This is so true! I’ve spent lots of time preparing for the short stories I currently write and even so I still need to read extra books and research in between because as I write I see the gaps for the next stories. Preparation is key. But once prepared, a daily writing habit might accelerate the output.

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Nah. I don't think it's necessary either. I'm more focused on writing intentionally. For example, if I have a story to tell or an essay to write, I will try to do that in a short span, as in a few days so I don't lose momentum and the voice doesn't change.

The habit of writing is whatever habit keeps you writing, which might be every day or a few times a week. Once you develop a passion for it, it's hard to resist the pull to get back at it. After that it's easier to make forward progress.

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Passion/ Love, however you phrase it, that's what will drive you. I'm getting pushback because I had the audacity to exclude busy mothers from my comments but I see plenty of busy mothers attending concerts and going skiing. If you want to write, you'll write.

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May 8, 2023·edited May 8, 2023Liked by Simon K Jones

Great Q!

I remember the anxiety-inducing days after a creative workshop or binge on YouTube videos from famous writers about the need to write daily. But I abandoned that practice years ago.

So, I do not write every day, but I do chew on my next word almost every day. I probably write about half of the month. The other half is thinking on the idea, shooting the video element, editing, and answering comments on my posts.

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May 8, 2023Liked by Simon K Jones

Whatever you do, don't change it Taegan. It's working 😄😍

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Thank you Nathan!

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I used to write 5-6 days a week. Then I got pregnant and had a baby 😅

I agree, though. A habit is necessary but everyday is not at all!

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I can relate!! I stopped writing for a long time after having kids. Looking back, I do regret not making the time, but that's ok. I've been making up for it for a while now. They're old enough I can tell them to go play outside or something, leave me alone haha

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There's always more time to write, but kids are only kids once, right?

Weirdly, I only started writing after having my son. Not until he was about 3, as before then I wasn't sleeping. :P But it was having a child that - weirdly - made me very aware of my own mortality, which in turn made me realise that I really needed to get on with doing that writing thing that I'd always talked about wanting to do.

Also, if your life was only 100% writing, it'd make your work pretty dull. It's having other life experiences that enables us to write interesting stuff. :)

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I can relate to this a whole lot. It’s crazy how having kids and vastly less time than when we were younger somehow translates into doing 10x more

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Yeah, I basically produced nothing of note during my student years and 20s. I had all the time in the world, was in a comfortable financial position, and just faffed about for a decade and a half. Partly because my brain was still assuming I'd live forever, and I could just get round to doing stuff 'later on'.

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If I regret anything about not writing when the kids were babies it's because I wish I had captured so many of their early years in writing. It might be worth going back to FB during those early years and copying and pasting what I was recording then ;-)

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I put a 6 year old character into my previous book partly for this reason - I wanted to capture that way of behaving and speaking that is very particular to that age, while my son was still in that general area.

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It's cool that you can go back! I always like the idea of capturing these quiet baby moments in my writing, but I'm an awful journaler even when I did regularly get a full night's sleep haha

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I'm experimenting with my time. My husband and I make it a priority to take time for our own hobbies as a form of self care, switching off supporting each other with our baby girl. It's a challenge, but one worth sticking too I believe.

Part of me looks forward to the day I can send my daughter to play on her own, while I'm sure I'll miss this time too!

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I love that approach you and your husband are taking. It's so important, not least because it makes you more interesting for your child! My son is very enthusiastic about writing and drawing, which I'm sure is at least partly due to my own enthusiasm for them. He's doing his own thing, and I'd have been fine with him not being interested, but seeing parents doing creative stuff (which isn't just disappearing to 'go to work' mysteriously each day) is a valuable part of bringing up a child, I think.

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That sounds like a wonderful way you connect with your son! Thanks for sharing! A new inspiration to keep trying for that writing time!

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My wife and I are in a similar situation right now. It’s a challenge but also important you both get your creative time. Creatives that don’t get to create wither on the vine so fast

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We also go a bit weird.

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Exactly! Life gets in the way. And, to be honest....it should. Writing is massively, massively important to me (to the point that I go a bit weird if I don't write something each week), but it's never going to be as important as my son. That's just how it is. If I changed those priorities it might not make me a *bad* writer exactly, but it would certainly make me a different writer.

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Exactly the point I made above to Jimmy! Sometimes it's not an issue of whether you love writing or not--it's an issue of do you have the time to *be* a writer. To *think*.

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The brain power it takes to think... that's often what holds me back!

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Yes.

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My son didn't sleep through the night until he was 6. The effort required to write during those early years was immense. And that was with two parents - single parents who still manage to find time for their creative pursuits are amazing. (and it's fine to be one who doesn't, too)

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Oh, that's rough. Especially since it's hard to create with sleep deprivation.

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I write most days, and when I am not actually writing I am either (a) drafting stuff in my head or (b) doing something or reading something that will feed into my writing later on. The only reason is that Iove writing.

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May 8, 2023Liked by Simon K Jones

I am seeing a lot of comments like this. My restatement would be: "I don't write every day, but I live in my writing every day." Which matches my behavior too.

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100%. I'm always 'writing', even if that doesn't manifest as actual words going onto a page. A couple of weeks ago I spent several days wrangling core plot points in my head, with no specific 'output'. Massively valuable thinky sessions, though. :)

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Great example, Terry. Working every day towards a new piece whatever that entails.

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I write and publish every day. I don't think it's necessary for everyone. But I'd say five days a week is the minimum. If someone loves writing that shouldn't be a problem.

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May 8, 2023·edited May 8, 2023Author

It seems very appropriate that you're the first person to comment, Jimmy. :) Your output and commitment is amazing.

The thing for me, I think, is that a daily habit - or even 5 days - can be really hard to hit at the start, and it can a be a quick route to disillusionment. Especially at the start, you'll be trying to wedge the writing into whatever your life happens to be at that point in time.

What I've found, to my pleasant surprise, is that by creating a habit of one day per week (at minimum), I've gradually built up to a point, almost without noticing, where I am writing almost every day. For me, having that achievable first step back in 2015 - one day a week - is what opened the door and got me to where I am now.

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"Almost without noticing"

Which means it's enjoyable. That's a really good place to be.

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Definitely - feels like I've found a healthy balance. I think I'd struggle with every day like you do, as I need space in-between sessions to let things percolate a bit in my brain.

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My brain is burning the coffee grounds constantly

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Sometimes it isn't an issue of "loving writing." Sometimes it's an issue of time available. A mother with young children does not always have five days a week, especially if she is also holding down a full-time job. Maybe it's fifteen minutes here or there, or maybe only twice a week. There comes a point when burning the candle at both end benefits no one.

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Absolutely. This is why the absolutist 'must write every day' attitude isn't one I really hold with. As a target to aim towards, sure, but if it's not practically possible it shouldn't be seen as a problem.

Everyone's circumstance are different, and if you're not a full-time professional writer (or fortunate enough to have someone else support you), you're going to be juggling stuff.

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Exactly. The absolutist "must write every day" attitude tends to be promoted by people who are either desperate or...who don't have a lot of home responsibilities. In the past that has tended to exclude a lot of women who were juggling a lot already. Having gone through that experience, I tend to consider it to be a rather toxic attitude because it does lead to burnout, health problems, and the like--as I can testify.

It's no coincidence that my production went up once my spouse and I retired, and he took over a lot of the daily family management chores. It wasn't a factor of my love for writing changing. It was that I finally had time to write and think for more than small chunks of time.

Before, I was up early, bleary-eyed, writing for a half hour before taking off for work as a special education teacher, stopping off after work to train a young horse (who is now a well-trained semi-retired horse), and trying to work in time to write between special ed paperwork, grading papers, and preparing lesson plans. Sometimes it was all I could do to review the pages I had written that morning before going to bed. I lost too much weight, wrestled with other health issues, and...well, what I wrote then was okay, but what I wrote once I had time to think and do necessary other things without the day job is much better. I was cruising on maybe 5 hours of sleep most of the time.

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To be honest, I'm deeply suspicious of anyone who puts writing above all else.

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"Psychotic persistence" is what Jay Lake used to call it--and he was a prime example. But he wasn't judgmental of processes other than his.

There are days when I miss that drivenness to get the words down no matter what. At that time it was a compensation for job-related stress, along with the horse and skiing.

And I still get moody when I go too many days without writing--unless I don't, and then that's a clear sign that I've pushed too hard and have hit the wall.

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I tried writing every day at a specific time, then I tried to hit a specific wordcount every day; I tried setting deadlines, I tried writing on the weekends, I tried pushing myself to work in large chunks, small chunks. I ultimately end up giving up these routines. Right now I’m trying the approach you described: I write daily whenever I can squeeze some writing. If my story advances by one sentence a day I’m happy. Some days I write more. Some days I don’t write. Let’s see how this approach works!

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I've been on a similar path. The more regimented approaches and goals never really worked for me.

Two things finally clicked, I think:

1. Setting the loose goal of 'one chapter per week'. As a target it is both specific and flexible. By the end of the week I need to have a chapter written, but how and when I go about doing that can flex as required. Sometimes I'll do a bit every day. Sometimes I'll write the entire chapter in one evening. Or anything in-between. There's enough flex to fit around a realistic life pattern and enough specificity to still get stuff done.

2. Publishing online. All the while I was writing in private, on my computer, it was very easy to give up, or be distracted. As soon as I started publishing chapters as I was writing them, my output became much more regular. Didn't matter if it was just one reader - that was enough to make me think "ooh, I'd better get on with that next chapter."

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Obviously there are exceptions. But the question is posed " to writers" . Not mothers with full time jobs. Since Notes launched, there have been plenty of writers bemoaning their own lack of output or struggles with creating content. Daily responsibilities like motherhood or day jobs is a different topic.

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Writers who are mothers with full-time jobs are still writers. I kinda resent that assumption because I juggled work, writing and home responsibilities for years. Everyone has daily responsibilities, even full-time writers.

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I juggle plenty. You came in resentful of what I said. It's impossible to cover every aspect of every writer's life when one is trying to make a succinct point. We all realize that there are extenuating and very real circumstances that make it different and challenging for everyone.

If I'm not mistaken JK Rowling juggled a ton of stuff but managed to write a massive and very successful series. I'm willing to bet she wrote at least five days a week.

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That's not exactly what your original tone expressed, and you SHOULD be able to make a succinct point that doesn't sound black and white to the reader--i.e., "if you love writing you'll do this." That is my primary objection, because there are many writers out there who do love writing, who do write well, but who DON'T have the time or circumstances to write five days a week. That particular sentence didn't need to be included and it was offensive to many who are juggling home responsibilities, full-time jobs, and children. Or who need to work multiple jobs, or have health issues, or the like.

As as for writers to emulate, I can think of much better role models than Ms. Rowling.

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Your assumption that I don't juggle multiple responsibilities, health issues and other sources of income is offensive to me. And I was trumpeting Ms.Rowling's sales success,nothing beyond that, though I was pretty confident you would find fault with me using her as an example.

I have done my damnedest to uplift and encourage writers of all descriptions in the short time this platform has been operating and you taking me to task for not including a disclaimer you would have enjoyed is not accomplishing anything.

Again, I juggle plenty to be able to publish on this platform but one thing I will not waste time juggling is your opinion of me.

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Writing with a day job is different. I’m definitely slower than others but I’m getting there. 😁

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As long as you enjoy the process when you're doing it, that's a win.

I don't have a traditional day job, but keeping up my fiction schedule while filming a movie isn't easy. I'm not complaining,the challenge is wonderful, but I'm not sure that everyone would be up to the task

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Wow, you film a movie and still write a story every day?

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Just wrapped a 4 day shoot on a film called Port Sanilac, had 3 days on a short called Appleman in which I was the only human actor and did two features during my daily writing streak that are available to the public: Ash and Bone, and Good Thief.

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I agree, Jimmy

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I don’t write every day, and that’s ok

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Indeed.

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I interpret "write every day" as not just drafting prose but making your craft a habit. You can edit or read or journal, whatever you need to work on so long as you establish a routine. "This is my writing time" sort of thing. I think another way to interpret it is that some writers have a drive to write every day and if they don't they go nuts or something. I get that, but maybe not everyone has that drive. More than one way to skin a cat. And anyone who says "you aren't a real ____" is just being a gatekeeper, imo. What, are hobby writers pretend? They're ghosts?

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Agreed. Writers write. Doesn't really matter how or when they do it, as long as they're writing at some point.

To finish projects a routine is almost always needed, I think, but even then it can be loose. As long as there's a regularity, the frequency is more to do with speed than quality.

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Can you make wine every day if you don't plant the new season, take the time to select the finest grapes, and give them time to ferment? A winemaker is a winemaker not just because of the wine she bottles. She's a winemaker because she knows the seasons, she knows the sun and the soil, and she can tell when it's time to harvest.

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I try to write every day, but I don't beat myself up if it doesn't happen. Most of my writing is long-form work that doesn't show up on a daily basis in my Substack, or else it's very short-form social media bits and pieces. I used to publish much more frequently on LiveJournal, but that was a different era and I was younger. Now that I'm in my sixties, I have to spend more time prioritizing.

Health plays a role as well. I haven't written anything other than very short social media comments over the past four days because I had a big reaction to a Covid vaccination. Either my thoughts were too jumbled for me to trust myself to writing I'm significantly invested in--i.e., my fiction--or I was making so many typos that I don't normally make that it would have interfered with my writing process.

One thing that I recommend to writers is to study the daily journals of working writers. For me, the two John Steinbeck journals written while drafting The Grapes of Wrath (Working Days) and East of Eden (Journal of A Novel) provided the deepest insights into the creative process. Sometimes Steinbeck had days where he didn't write. But, like Anthony Trollope (whose Autobiography I also recommend), he strove for a daily drafting word count when he did.

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Hope you get over that bad reaction soon, Joyce!

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Thanks! Today is better but I'm still wiped out. Going out to the ranch to make sure the old mare wasn't colicking in this wild weather just wiped me out. What was also scary was that besides brain fog, my typing was really erratic...all over the place with typos. I probably won't do more than look over stuff today to get my mind back into the story because while I'm able to compose with fewer typos (and those weren't just finger mistakes, they were phonemic spelling mistakes), my brain's still foggy.

When I was younger, I would have forced myself back to write. These days--no. Brains need to rest.

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I do something write-ish every day. Plot a story that’s stuck in my head, work on a longer novel project, dash off a short story I’ve only just thought of. I usually try to put some words on paper, but even if it doesn’t work out, at least something behind-the-scenes got done.

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If you're working on it, you're working on it. Head plotting is work. Doesn't matter if you tap on keys.

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Yes! And I’ve found that I’m much more coherent after plotting. It saves time to think about it for a while rather than forcing it into life.

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I love that it works for you. Try a voice recorder too. Those have saved my sanity more than once.

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I've flirted with those before, but haven't gotten the hang of talking to myself yet. It's been a while, though - might be worth another shot!

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It might even help you craft the story if you imagine you're telling it to an audience.

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Or explaining it to one single person. I can imagine getting a lot of details out in the flow of conversation that would disappear otherwise.

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Well, I write something everyday but it is not the same project. When I have shorter chunks of time I work on poetry (editing, drafting) or Substack (drafting). When I have longer stretches of 50min+ then I write creative non-fiction or short fiction or longer narrative poetry. But I have so much to write that I always have to do it or else I fall behind.

Writing about a thought transforms it in such a way that it is a delight. It is good for my mental health to play with ideas or images. I think of writing the way I think of any physical exercise. I always feel better after it is done (even if it wasn't my best workout).

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That's very true. And much like exercise, beforehand you can feel like you *really* don't want to do it. And you just want to skip it that particular week. But the you do it, and, as you say, you feel better afterwards.

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May 8, 2023·edited May 8, 2023Liked by Simon K Jones

I work on my writing and stories almost everyday. Whether it’s drafting, revising, researching, outlining, thinking... I think of it all as “writing” but I’m always doing something. Often times I wake up excited to get to the days work, especially when it’s the writing part of the craft.

I also go through cycles where I get up and the first thing I do each morning (with coffee of course) is sit down and write something completely fresh and new. Great story ideas or scenes/characters for future stories come from these scribblings. I’m about to cycle back into that because I’ve been missing it.

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Nice. I wish I could summon myself out of bed a bit earlier in the morning, so as to have more time to write before starting work. Once I'm up, I'm good. But my brain is very sluggish at actually waking up in the first place. :)

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I do write every day, but sometimes a very short amount if other factors are in the way (my kid! Other work! Etc I often welcome these distractions so I don’t feel stale and because I love doing other things as well) But I do big projects in chunks. When I’m writing a book, I write quite a bit every day (maybe one day off a week) or even go somewhere where I can be on my own and write at all times of day with breaks as well. I also take parts of the year only writing on paper. Cycles of discovery...

Thanks for this question! Like to read the other answers

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Thanks for the answer! (I'm slightly startled by how many responses this little question has received)

I think that taking breaks between actual writing sessions is quite undervalued. Most of my really good ideas have occurred to me when I'm not writing. It's those in-between moments that are my most creative, I think.

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I guess we’re all trying to understand what we do! It’s so great to have writing community here on Substack. Agree completely with the breaks. But then I guess we are all different and that’s fine.

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This is by far the best writing group I've ever been part of!

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146 comments??! wow.

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Yeah, I'm wondering if this is a Notes effect?

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I try to write every day. I don't take the extreme view that if you don't, you're not a real writer, but for me at least, I find that my writing habit completely falls off when I skip several days and that it's harder to get back into the story.

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Yeah, same here. Though with long-running serials I don't think my brain ever entirely leaves the story, to be honest. There's always a weird splinter of my mind that's off in fiction land.

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Of course I do .... between Andelman Unleashed [ https://daandelman.substack.com/ ] ... my CNN Opinion column [ https://www.cnn.com/profiles/david-andelman ] ... and my latest (6th!) book....how could I NOT write every day???? .... BUT only in the morning .... start 6 to 7 am, generally quit writing circa 1 pm.....then there's the rest of my life !!

;-))

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Yes, actually. Even if it’s just a sentence

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I went several years where I wrote most days. I was in a writers group at the time. It wasn't just about the deadline, though. I loved getting feedback and encouragement on my pages, and that only happened if I wrote. I hate to think that my motivation is reliant upon external feedback, but it certainly helps.

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I'm similar, which is why I publish my work online as I write it. That extra motivation, that there's a reader out there, definitely gets me back to the keyboard.

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May 8, 2023Liked by Simon K Jones

Ever since I started my Substack, yes. Every day. Might just be a few words, might just be an edit and a reword, or it might be a huge slew of words.

Ideally first thing in the morning, but lately I've ever resorted to opening my laptop on the train home from work to snatch 20 minutes of writing time.

I like the notion that it's a muscle that you need to exercise 😄

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May 11, 2023·edited May 11, 2023Liked by Simon K Jones

write everywhere, no shame. I wrote on the bus on my phone (crammed full like a tin of sardines) on the way to the dentist for a root canal, blocking out the ruckus with my noise-cancelling AirPods. You never know when the moment presents itself, better be ready.

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I respect the laptop on the train. I’ve seen people do that and could never get up the courage to do the same

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May 8, 2023Liked by Simon K Jones

Oh, yeah, it has to be on an isolated seat, back to the window or with no-one next to me 😅

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Nah, sit next to someone and set the font to be REALLY BIG so they can join in.

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Bahaha 😂

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May 8, 2023Liked by Simon K Jones

I don't know a wide circle of published and award winning writers, but those I've known, poets and novelists, didn't write every day, or even every week. Some would knock out a complete manuscript during their holidays.

They would have been thinking, or even doing research if it was needed, but the writing itself was in sprints, or sporadic (especially for a collection of poetry).

Actors don't act every day, painters don't paint every day, CEOs don't CEO every day, Olympic swimmers don't swim every day. Only writing has this exhortation.

Hemingway wrote 500 words a day, Tom Wolfe 135 words, Stephen King between 1500 and 2000 words, but only on his working days, Monday to Friday.

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I write every day. Lately, if I get down my 100 words daily story then I consider the day a win. But aside from that fiction, I also write reviews, thoughts, opinions, all sorts of non-fiction stuffs daily. I usually don't push those out the same day that I write them and will put them in a weekly rotation. But soon, very soon, I will push them out right after I've written them and "throw the dice" on whether or not that kind of daily (sporadic?) activity will force my hand to finally separate my fiction away from my main Susbtack...

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I try to write every day. I'm such a slow writer than I need all the extra time I can get.

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Everyone's pace is different. I don't think anyone should ever feel any pressure to work faster.

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It's hard not to now that I have a Substack. So many other people put out something new every week. I'm just hoping the quality of my work will make up for the infrequent updates.

I also like writing enough to not mind doing it every day. I'm not torturing myself or anything. 🙃

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May 8, 2023·edited May 8, 2023Author

Here's a secret: The only reason I posted this discussion thread today is because I didn't have time to write a proper newsletter. (due to it being the 2nd bank holiday in a row in the UK, which for me means less writing time)

Threads, for me, are two things, in this order:

1. Amazing ways to invite interesting people to have fascinating discussions.

2. A 'free' week in which I don't need to write a big essay, which helps create a bit of a time buffer for me, but without going silent.

Of course, this post now has 120 comments, which hasn't happened before (I'm more used to, like, 20, so I'm not sure what's happened), and has slightly torpedoed the whole 'saving time' idea. :P

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May 8, 2023Liked by Simon K Jones

Go at whatever pace works for you. :)

I've been trying to maintain weekly because it's the first time that I've been able to make myself accountable for writing every day. It gets me over the little energy barrier to begin.

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I think I have the strange problem that people think my daily pace means the quality has to be horrible. I know they're not all Pulitzer worthy but based on reader feedback the good ones far outweigh the bad.

You can always give your subscribers really brief updates, ideas, unfleshed thoughts and ask what they think. They don't have to get Tolstoy every time you hit " publish".

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I think it would be one thing if you were publishing a full short story every day, but micro fiction is much more manageable at that pace.

I've given updates on chat before. Maybe I'll try using the main site for that next time.

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I publish many stories over 1000 words. So far the longest is about 8000 words with about 3 or 4 a year cracking the 4000 word mark.

None are shorter than 100 and the 100s are rare.

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How long does it take you to write and edit a story?

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I write everyday in some capacity whether a short jot of an idea or scene etc. or a whole 4000 word chapter/short story.

When I started writing I aimed for 1000 words a day, everyday. That worked to build the muscle and to learn how to do it, highly recommend that when starting out. 1000 words isn't as much as it initially feels. At the start it took me 3+ hours but now I could write that in 30 minutes if the juice is flowing freely, usually it's close to an hour.

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Building that muscle is critical. Someone else likened writing to exercise, and I think it's a pretty valid comparison.

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I move between writing and painting, don't know if I am a writer or a painter both or neither, I guess I just set out to be creative.

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Does plotting and structural labour count?

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Absolutely

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Oh, in that case then yes, writing does take place every day for me. I don't think it's coming from a place of compulsion, though. It's just something I enjoy so it ends up slipping into the cracks of otherwise busy days, too. Although, I do wish this translated into a larger public output. Ah well.

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I write and/or revise every day, but rarely for more than 4 hours. I'm not the type who can write for 8 hours straight.

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Crikey, no. For me, that'd turn it into something that feels more like a traditional office job. I don't think that would be good for my creativity.

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I've done it maybe 2 or 3 times. No idea how people do eight hours consistently.

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May 8, 2023Liked by Simon K Jones

I have scheduled dedicated writing time for myself because most of my writing otherwise happens spontaneously during my workday or when i'm watching a movie and an idea comes to mind or when I should be cleaning but just have to get this idea out of my head.

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I block 4 hours of my day to write. Sometimes I write, sometimes I don’t. The times I don’t write I read or nap. It becomes my time to recharge. Many times it gives me ideas I can use in or start a story.

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I remember Cormac McCarthy said something similar. That he would go into his writing room every day, but some days he's just watch the ants crawling on the floor.

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I used to be quite regimented about my writing. Tuesday evenings was writing time, and I'd commit to that no matter what. I'm more flexible now, which affords me a bit more creative space.

But yeah, being a writer isn't just about writing words.

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May 8, 2023Liked by Simon K Jones

I aim to write every day. Even if it’s just 250 words. I have periods of productivity and momentum where I’ll write 20 days in a row. Followed by a week or two of scattered days. Not for a lack of will, rather life getting in the way. I find getting that momentum is crucial. Once you get it, holding on, is the hardest part.

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Wish I could restack your comment, but "Once you get it, holding on, is the hardest part" is so damn true.

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If you click the 3 dots next to a comment, you can restack it. :)

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🤯🤯🤯

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I like this bucking bronco-style writing analogy.

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No, but I definitely worry about writing everyday. Does that count?

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Works for me.

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I write every day but not always for my book or Substack, but for work. Although work writing compliments my other stuff, and vice versa, I'd like to work on things other than work some more. An issue I am having is when I write for work so much that my other writing flow and muse is difficult to achieve because I am so into... work stuff. In this sense I think that writing every day is good to build a habit, but if it is not entirely in line with what it is I really want to finish (book, and plenty of Substack newsletters) I only develop the writing muscle for work stuff. I am learning how to use that to my advantage, but it is difficult.

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May 9, 2023Liked by Simon K Jones

It depends on what you mean by "write." Do you mean new words? Do mean new words that are specifically to be shared with others on one of my many writing projects? I write many days. Sometimes it's only journaling. I work actively on writing in one way or another (drafting, editing, researching) most days. I work on writing via experiencing, mulling, watching, tasting, listening - yes. Every day.

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Yes, every day except the sabbath. Unfortunately I read all the advice that says to do it every day, including from GRRM, so that is what I do. Even if it's only 200 words. For a while my goal was to write for only half an hour a day at a minimum, then it became just to write something at all. But having that extremely low bar actually is great for forward momentum, and I have written loads using it, now almost three quarter of a million words on different projects.

The only exception I have to writing every day is that sometimes I am not writing, but editing. It took me a long time to get into the mindset that editing is also progress because I had trained my brain to get dopamine hits from writing. The trick was to measure time invested, rather than words written. In fact, I came across a podcast and website recently that does just this, 'Write a bestseller in a year', where with their daily writing challenge they say you can bank either 200 words minimum a day or 20 minutes' editing a day. This has helped me edit loads more as well. The trick is a very small minimum goal, which paradoxically leads to surplus output, rather than a crushingly large goal, which leads to failure and despair.

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I've found exactly the same thing and am a big fan of low expectations. :P Seriously, though, having a very achievable writing goal does absolutely result in more writing, because once you get started you're quite likely to enjoy the process, get into it, and write for far longer than you initially expected.

Human brains are weird!

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I don't write every day, but I like to think that my "work" time is split between research and writing.

Sometimes I'm brainstorming another short story, sometimes I'm writing essays, sometimes I'm trying to think of ways to attract more subscribers so that my written words can help feed my family.

Sometimes, I'm writing in my journals.

But there have been days when none of that happens at all.

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I go in seasons.

There are 3-4 months out of the year where I write an average of 5 days a week.

There ~1-2 months where I write nothing, and the rest of the time I write in some form or other 1-2 days a week.

Once in a while I’ll have a manic few weeks in a row where I write daily, but I’ve found that unsustainable.

As an aside in case you’re mining data, I do have a full time role professional career. Until recently, writing has been that thing I do because it makes life meaningful, but it’s not as highly prioritized.

I’m hoping to change that with this new newsletter thang and attendant community.

To everything there is a season, eh?

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Good luck with that shift towards prioritising writing. It does feel like there is a lot of potential for writers here at the moment.

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Agreed! I’m so stoked to be a part of it at this stage!

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Yes.

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I try to write everyday. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I get sucked into some deep vortex on the web and lose a couple of hours. But if I can get a page in, or a couple hundred words, I'm good with that. I recently retired, and thought: "Now I'll have all the time I need to write." I think I wrote more when I was working than I do now. I used to get up two-three hours before work. But I think that's because when the kids were younger I didn't spend a lot of time on my writing. I don't think I wrote a lot until after they grew up. Now that they've grown up and moved out, I don't have an excuse, do I? If I'm not writing, I'm reading, or thinking about it. I'm always rewriting. The only time I don't seem to get a lot of writing done is when the wife is around. Maybe she thinks I should be spending my time with her on her days off? Maybe I should?

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Yes, I write every day. But I don't concentrate on the same thing, i.e., writing a response to this post is writing. I have projects I dedicate time to but not on the same day. Or give the same amount of time to.

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I don't write every day, but I am always thinking about the stories in my head. Sometimes the writing happens in your head. I find it a bit frustrating how eager everyone is to give writers prescriptive advice. Grand sweeping statements about the nature of writing and writers just turn me off.

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I don't write every day, though I do try when into a novel (and I have to have a novel).

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I write something every day, whether it’s “my” writing or work for a client. I can’t imagine publishing every day, since I feel the need to do at least a little quality control. Not everything that comes out of this teeming brain is worthy of being read.

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If I’m not writing every day then I’m thinking about my next essay or changes I can make in my novel.

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I write five days a week, Monday through Friday, pending anything that may come up, and give myself the weekends. It allows me to write regularly and helps prevent burnout.

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How much time per day do you put into the writing, Donna? Is this a full time thing, or evenings, or something in-between?

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I have a full time job so this is hobby work. Time spent depends on what I’m working on. It can be 20 minutes or it can be two hours depending on what I need done in that session. Also, I don’t have kids, so that frees up a lot of time.

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I try to write every day and end up writing every other day. I like the stretch habit. And it doesn’t feel like work. It’s just something I love doing each day, like making chai. Automatic!

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Sort of? I try to write by hand (if using a stylus counts) for fiction for at least 30 minutes a day and then I end up writing also for substack. Sometimes 20 minutes, sometimes 2 hours. If I'm working on a longer piece of fiction I tend to write a lot daily for a few months straight then stop.

I'm always planning and outlining though! :)

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Most every day. But I go on mini-sabbaticals and take things in a bit.

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I try to work on my newsletter most days of the week. It’s not always writing though. Sometimes it’s editing, research, or working on music.

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Great question! I try to but I also take 'write' to mean 'do something active that's directly related to my writing' - which excludes reading for pleasure but includes brainstorming, plotting, daydreaming about stories & characters, research (ie. reading & taking notes), revision & editing. It also excludes newsletter & marketing stuff because to me, that's publishing, not writing.

More context: I've been doing this writing thing pretty much non-stop since I was a teenager. I'm happiest when I get into a (semi)daily rhythm. It doesn't have to be the same place or same time every day but it has to be something. I get withdrawal symptoms when I don't write for a week or so which always pulls me back in.

But I also have friends who put out entire novels in short, super intense bursts then don't write anything for months on end. I think it comes down to knowing what works best for you & sticking to it no matter what.

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I'd hesitate at excluding 'reading for pleasure', to be honest. Ingesting other writers' work is really valuable for improving your own craft, picking up new techniques and ideas and so on.

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If you struggle to incorporate reading into your life, yes, definitely. That's not a problem I have though, I read A LOT (in the range of 80-90 books per year). I tend towards input > output so I sometimes remind myself to do at least one short writing session before I can read.

Again, it's important to know where you struggle & what you want to change about your routine or if you've already found what works for you & just want to maintain that for a while.

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I always write and try to publish every day.

Writing every day accelerates the rate of which I learn the craft. Publishing every day is so that I can receive feedback on my work. It’s not all great, but it helps me learn.

I believe that any craft is about iteration. The more I write the more I iterate and the more I improve. My first several years as I writer, I was sparse, inconsistent.

I’ve learned more over the last year writing every day than I did in the previous five. Take that as you will.

It’s also important to remember that we all have different goals for our writing. Some of us want to be reporters, others poets. Some of us want to make our life’s work writing while others use it as an escape.

Whatever your reason for writing, whatever your goal for writing... it’s valid. Writing is a medium we use to express ourselves and we can choose to do so however we want.

So if someone writes every day and it works for them great. If someone writes once a month in a five hour binge... great. Do whatever works best for you

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I've recently started doing little sketches every morning. I've wanted to be a better illustrator for years but have never really done anything about it, so I've never really improved. In doing daily sketches for the last month - very quick, simple little things - I feel like I've improved more than I have in the last decade.

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I guess it depends on what counts as writing. I write almost every day, but sometimes it's simply brainstorming or writing down ideas because I need to get it out so I don't forget. Like many here, I have a day job, so I can't just sit down and write all of the time. I have to work it in whenever I can. And I do work it in whenever I can.

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That certainly counts as writing, according to me at least. :)

It's very rare to find even successfully published writers who don't have some kind of supplemental job. To be a writer is to be a very good juggler.

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