A writer writes.
Set a word count goal.
You can’t wait for inspiration.
I’ve heard these statements since I started writing. But even after publishing while working a full-time job, it’s still impossible for me to write every day.
Nine years ago, fresh out of a depression, I struggled with never being whom I hoped. As a teacher, I often don’t have downtime during the school year. But that spring, between February and May 2008, my bits of stories formed into three badly written novels.
I attended conferences, joined a critique group, took classes, studied craft, and kept writing. I’ve now completed thirteen works and published three books, many stories, and curriculum.
Three more books are ready for the polish of an editor. One is in critique. The first draft of another is done, and another is taking shape. There are also sketches for six possible stories awaiting attention.
But do I write every day?
I write in concentrated bursts.
I find time: after school, on weekends, on breaks.
November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Writers try to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I’ve completed the challenge four times and usually have a book, or the good beginnings of one, come December 1st.
Other times during the year a story will niggle at me, like a crazed woodpecker hammering images and plot in a relentless cadence, until I transform it into intelligible squiggles on a screen.
Soon, another story enters the production line.
Each one starts its life as a hastily written rough draft. It sits untouched for months so I can look at it again with fresh eyes. Next, it receives a few rewrites before it goes to my fabulous critique group. They hone it a few chapters at a time. It sits again before one last deep review. The last step is a professional editor. I contact my cover designer and start the formatting to release it into the world.
This works for me.
Until such a time as I can write full-time, I dream, imagine, plot, study, learn, read, and plan. But sitting at the computer comes in bursts of writing that continue to propel me toward my goals.
As writers, we have to find what works for us.
We can’t wait for inspiration, but it will come when we find ways to be involved in some aspect of writing every day. Read. Study craft. Edit. Critique. Share. Imagine. Dream.
The love of storytelling, words, and sharing a little of ourselves makes us writers even when we don’t meet a daily word count.
And whether we write a few words every day or in concentrated spurts—we must write.
Michelle Janene is a devoted teacher, a dysfunctional housekeeper, and a dedicated writer. Her first novella released in 2015 and novels followed. She leads critique groups, edits the Inspire anthology, and founded Strong Tower Press.