The Advantages to Writing Only Once a Week

Many writers voice the opinion that if you want to be a writer, you need to write every day. I disagree. For the past thirteen years, I have been writing only one day a week (with a few exceptions). Here are the advantages:

1.You don’t write many throw-away scenes.

I spend the entire week thinking about what comes next. I get ideas, reject ideas, change ideas, and expand ideas all in my head. When I sit down to write, I’m confident that the scene I write is meant to be there.

2. You know your characters intimately.

In the time between my writing sessions, my characters talk to me. I listen. We converse. These conversations roam in ways that a story doesn’t. I learn their histories, their desires, their fears. I learn a lot of things that will never be in the story.

3.You are energized when you sit down to write.

This is true for two reasons. First, I look forward to my writing day with great anticipation. Hooray! I get to write today! Second, I haven’t been exhausting myself on other days, pushing myself to write when there is nothing there, writing crap, deleting crap, hating myself, etc. Instead, on those other days, I’ve been quietly thinking, resting up for my big day of writing.

4.You will be a better reviser.

I know I said in #1 that I don’t write throw-away scenes, but once that first draft is finished, everything is on the cutting board. On my non-writing days, I’m thinking carefully about the whole story, the character arcs, what needs more explanation, what needs less, on and on. When writing day arrives, I know what part of the manuscript I’m attacking, how I’m attacking it, and I’m excited!

5.You can take advantage of the extra time in your week to exercise.

Writers are famously inactive. I used to walk to and from work. For an hour a day (thirty minutes each way) I could think about my novel with very few distractions. Now, I swim three to four times a week. Swimming laps can be pretty boring, but for me, it’s a time of intense conversation with my characters.

Yes, there are also advantages to writing every day, and that works well for some people. Many successful writers write every day. And they’re successful. Probably a lot more successful than me. Still.

I’ve tried to write every day. But with family and work and other commitments, I was too tired, writing crap, and feeling bad about myself and my writing.

One day (OK, really it’s only a half-day), once a week, fits into my busy schedule. Rejecting the every-day writing and committing myself to once a week has worked wonders on my writing, my confidence, and my happiness.

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