An year ago I wouldn’t have thought in my wildest dreams that I would’ve manged to maintain a 200 plus day writing streak. Now that I’m on the other side, with the grand hope that I don’t break this streak until the end of my life, I have learned many valuable lessons not just about writing, but any work that one needs to do.
The first and foremost things is: motivation. No matter how much you want to do it, no matter how it matters to you, no matter how many dreams you see of success, no matter whether you have enough experience or not – nothing would matter unless you start. Many people keeping dreaming of the day they will start but they all fail to realize that the right time to start is right now. Nothing is stopping you except yourself. You might give a hundred reasons – I’ve got a job, my kids are a mess, I don’t get enough sleep, blah blah blah. These are problems everyone deals with; some people deal with way more than this and still manage to do what matters to them. I’ve had a couple of such days too – visits to places, my birthday, sick days, tiring, sleep-deprived days, but I wrote nonetheless. Stephen King too writes every single day – and that includes his birthday and Christmas too. If you resolve to do it, you will always find a way.
The second thing is to be persistent. I decided to write every day because I was somehow convinced that that was the only way I could ever be a writer, and once I’m deeply convinced about something, it is almost impossible to change my mind, unless you have a reasonable explanation, and I think I don’t want one in this case. So I set myself a word limit for each day, and decided that no matter what, I have to write 500 words every day. When ten days, twenty days, thirty days later, I still managed to show up daily without fail, I started believing more and more in myself. I thought, if I’ve come this far, certainly I can go much further. And I did. 200 days might not be much to those who’ve been writing for years, but it is an achievement nonetheless. Sure, there have been some days when I felt like giving up, because what difference would it make? I wasn’t accountable to anyone except myself and perhaps that is what drove me to the desk every day. I didn’t want to face the guilt of purposeful, deliberate failure the excuse for which was mere laziness and procrastination. I didn’t want these things to hold me back.
The third thing is that it’s okay to borrow or steal. On the first couple of days, I set out thinking I would come up with something original and unique every day. However, on day three or four, I found myself at a lack of inspiration. So I turned to writing prompts, something I’d long avoided because I thought it meant plagiarizing. However, my experience with prompts has been great, because writing prompts force you to be original and creative, and not the other way around. I’ve been more welcoming of non-fiction prompts, because they not only help you to learn more about yourself, but they also inspire originality and newness because each person has his/her own, different life to write about. Even after six months when I find myself at a lack of ideas, I turn to writing prompts.
The fourth lesson is that there are no rules. No one said that you have to be working on a novel to undertake the task of writing everyday. I’m not. I’m just writing a new piece each day. Some days I continue writing a longer piece from the day before. No one said you had to stick to a particular genre or style. I’ve written fiction, non-fiction, blog posts, short stories, flash fiction, vignettes, letters, lists. It doesn’t matter what you write or how much you write. I set myself a word count only because it gave me a specific target to aim at. The only rule is to write, no matter what you’re writing, when you’re writing it, how you’re writing or why you’re writing. You just have to write.
The fifth lesson is to be easy on yourself. Your might be going smoothly though you may be be busy but some days you might find yourself in a position when it would actually be impossible to write. On such days, you mustn’t hate yourself or regret breaking your streak for the rest of life. Instead, be easy on yourself. The purpose is to be productive and create more. It’s completely fine if you take a break. Even those who follow a strict diet and gym sometimes give in to snacks and laziness. Writing every day is supposed to loosen and strengthen your creative muscles, not work them so hard that they’re stiff and unmoving. You’re the only person you have to answer, so go soft on yourself sometimes.
And even if you do take a break, remember to return to your work. But never give up!
A professional is an amateur who didn’t quit. – Richard Bach