When you’re a writer, either personally or professionally, there is one piece of advice everyone seems to dole out: write every day. Write on a schedule. Write like it’s your job. If you throw your creative juices at a dart board long enough, you’ll hit a bullseye. And I have to tell you, I have never found something to be less true.
The dangers of writing too often
Not only does writing every day not help, but it can actively harm your writing. Don’t believe me? Here’s three negative effects “every day” writers suffer from.
1. You burn out
Plain and simple, if you do something day in and day out, you’ll burn out. Spending your days throwing your creativity at something only works for so long. If you spend all your effort putting every thought you have forward, you’re likely to suffer from massive writer’s block sooner or later. Eventually, you’ll want to step away from the keyboard completely because you’re spent.
2. You lose joy
If that first bullet point sounds stressful and depressing, it’s because it is. And the tragedy of that is that writers become writers for one very important reason: we love to write. How sad then to turn that pleasure into a chore and devoid it of joy altogether. Why turn a passion into a stress?
3. You pass up good ideas
Well you might be sitting there and going “Greta, I always have ideas to spare and I’m a writing machine who does not need to feel joy!” Okay then. But, did you ever consider that all this writing could still be hurting you? When you’re an idea machine, one thing becomes increasingly difficult: identifying the stars from the duds. Any writer can tell you about the one idea they had that suck in their mind for weeks, months, or years, before it blossomed into something they loved. The more often you write, the more likely that star is buried in piles of rotten ideas and lost forever. Keep that in mind.
The benefits of stepping back
Okay okay, so now I have you scared of writing too often. But let me tell you some of the benefits of those breathers you’re now letting yourself have.
1. Perspective on your topics
When you edit a document, the first thing you need to do is step away from it. Why? To gain perspective. The same goes for writing. Taking a break from writing lets you approach your topic with fresh eyes and a new perspective that brings the content to a whole new level. That can be hard when you never stop writing.
2. Time to gain experience
More than that, stepping back allows you to gain more experience. This could be experience with the topic at hand, or a new experience altogether. One thing is for sure. It’s hard to write without taking the time to learn your subject.
3. Opportunity to rediscover writing
Finally, we go back to the fundamental truth: writers love to write. By taking time away from writing, we can breathe and keep perspective. Writing is not a job, or a chore, but a labor of love. Keep yourself in check and you’ll grow to appreciate it more and more.
About the Author
Greta Boller is a technical writer located in the Washington, D.C. area. For more information, please visit her bio page.