I always encourage writers to write every day. That’s what I do. Slow and steady wins the race. I learned that as a kid from the turtle in Aesop’s fable “The Tortoise and the Hare.” The turtle is wise. The turtle embodies discipline. The turtle has focus. I applied turtle thinking to my writing because I wanted to finish; I wanted to win.
I think all writers should act the same way, but not all do. Some writers work in spurts; they’re binge writers. Though I don’t personally know any binge writers, I have heard about them. When they have a deadline looming or another incentive, they jump into their writing like a rabbit, going at it as fast as they can. They might write the first draft of their book in two weeks, working ten to fourteen-hour days, seven-days-a-week. Then they stop and rest, often for weeks or even months. If you write in spurts, you get this. I don’t.
Though there are days when I put in extra time to finish a project, reach a goal, or meet a deadline, I could never work all day on the same project. And I could never string together multiple days like that. If I tried I’d get cranky, and my writing would falter. My wife wouldn’t like me, and I wouldn’t like what I wrote. I’d have to redo it, a little bit each day. Slow and steady wins the race.
So, unless you’ve proven that binge writing works for you, I encourage you to work like a turtle; write some every day. Plod along with persistence towards the finish line.
Now when I say to write every day, this is not absolute; it is more of a trope. What I mean is to make a writing schedule that works for you and then stick to it the best you can. For you this may mean writing Monday through Friday; it may mean writing every weekend or just on Saturdays. Perhaps carving out Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings is what works for you, or maybe every other day. For me, it first meant weekdays, then six days a week, and now seven. But I had to work up to it – and I wanted to work up to it.
Whether you write like a tortoise or a hare, the important thing is to write.
Do you write like the tortoise or the hare? Do you have a writing schedule?
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Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.