I know I’ve talked about the idea that a writer should write every day before, and my opinion still falls into the “some days you just can’t get the words on the page” camp. And again, that’s not because of writer’s block. It can be, sure, but the cause can also be illness, exhaustion, family commitments, or work. And the “write every day” advice has its merits, notably in developing a habit so one continues the project to its conclusion, I’ve started to think that we need to move beyond the binary of write/not write if writing is going to be something more than a hobby. So today, I’m going to talk about working every day even if you’re not writing. So let’s look at a few other things a writer can do to work every day.
If writing isn’t on the table, editing is something a writer can do to keep the story in their mind and keep making progress. This can be as simple as grammar checking a scene or a chapter or as complex as finding and developing a plan to fix a plot hole. A lot of writers advise to “just get the story down” and then edit, and while I generally agree, sometimes all you have time for during the day is a bit of editing. This is something I will often do while I’m in my office on campus. During office hours, I don’t have a lot of time to sit and write, but I can edit a scene or two and make notes for more detailed changes. Remember: your process is unique to you. We can give advice based on our own experiences, but each writer has to find a method that works for them.
This can be seen as “Developmental Editing,” but some days all you have time to do is think of other things your story needs. This is where I am today for Crossroad Blues. I started to think that I need either one or two new scenes to fully establish the current antagonist’s threat or one scene and an extension of another. I know it needs something, so I’m spending today, and possibly tomorrow, brainstorming and planning what those scenes will be and where I’ll put them. Yes, I’m a plotter, but sometimes the plot outline isn’t enough and needs revision and expansion. So while I’m not writing, I’m still working towards the book’s completion.
This is one of those things writers often forget to do and/or hate to do. Yes, we have to market our work. Books don’t get advertisements on Hulu, so we have to get the word out there about our books. Marketing can take many forms. Blogging about the book is one form. Posting summaries, images, and blurbs on social media is another. Paying for advertising to reach more people than our normal social media channels can reach is another. And this works for both published work and works in progress. Building hype is always a good thing.
I would love to be able to write every day as a full-time job. Writing makes me happy, but for those of us who haven’t reached that level of success yet (and remember: marathon, not sprint), we have other responsibilities that can make writing daily a challenge. However, there are other things we can do each day to keep our momentum going, to build excitement, and to move forward.
I’ve presented a few things we can do to keep working on non-writing days. What are some other things you do?
My debut novel, Liam’s Doom, is on sale at all major and minor retail outlets from Amazon to Barnes & Noble to Bookshop.org. I request that you support Bookshop.org, as their site supports local and independent bookstores. The eBook is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and through my webstore.