We’ve all heard the advice “write every day,” and it’s the base goal of the Write by Midnight challenge: to establish a daily writing habit. But one thing I’ve seen in the first three weeks of WBM is that I am a yo-yo writer.
One day my production is great—600 words plus at a rate of better than 450 words/hour, and I easily surpass my 500 word/day goal. But then the next day’s word count is dismal. (I mean really dismal, like 35 words in two hours.) Then it’s back up to OK the following day. A graph of production looks like a schizophrenic EKG.
For the most part, I can’t say those wild productivity swings are due to life infringing on my writing time, either. Yes, that happens, spectacularly sometimes, like the day I spent three hours in the bathroom vomiting violently after trying a Zinc supplement. (Believe me, the adverb violently is warranted. The next day, my abs felt like I’d done enough sit-ups to qualify as an honorable mention in Guinness.) But even discounting self-induced medical crises, if I have one great writing day, it’s usually followed by an awful one, then a so-so, then it’s back to yippy-skippy.
I don’t know if it’s just that my creative well takes a day or two to recharge, or if those struggle days are really the days where I’m doing the hard work and the next good day is just showing the measurable payoff.
If it’s the latter, then the down days are just as important to my writing process as the good ones. I should embrace them—painful as that may be—and struggle through, knowing that I’m making progress even though it doesn’t look that way on the surface. If it’s the former, then I’m better off writing every other day, or even every third. The problem with that is that it’s easier to establish a regular habit if it’s regular. With every other day, the routine gets slippery.
I’m going to keep up with the daily writing throughout the rest of Write by Midnight and continue to track my output. Maybe I just haven’t given this every-day-no-matter-what thing enough of a try. But if the soaring then crashing trend continues, I think I might try an every other day writing schedule in March and see what happens.
I may just be one of the small percentage of people who don’t react well to the everyday approach—kind of like being the one person in 10 people who turns out to be violently allergic to zinc gluconate. (It’s truly not possible for me to emphasize the violently part enough.)