I have a question for folks. Some explaining first.
When I was first starting out, one of the good pieces of advice I got was to write every day. I heard it from lots of people, and it made a lot of sense. Getting in the habit of sitting down every day and writing is one of the best ways to learn to write, to learn to write lots, and to learn to finish what you write. Over the course of my years as a struggling writer, I’d write every day some years, and not write every day in others. The years when I wrote every day were always better. I didn’t necessarily produce more, but what I produced was better, and got better feedback. I kind of got superstitious about writing every day, because good things happened when I did — I sold more stories, wrote better stories, and so on. This last stretch, I’ve been writing every day since February 2004. I’m afraid if I stop all the success I’ve had the last couple of years will go away. (I also, coincidentally (?) landed my agent in February 2004, sold my first novel in August 2004, and so on.)
Now, I have a very loose definition of writing every day, which makes it much easier. I don’t have a set word count. Writing in my journal counts. (I’m sure someone looking through my journal would find at least a couple of entries that say, “Can’t write, too sick, blaurrgghh!”) When I travel I keep a trip journal rather than try to work on fiction. Brainstorming and outlining count as writing for the day. So does serious revision. But I do something that involves putting words on the page every day.
So. Writing every day. Good advice for writers just starting out. But I’ve noticed something: a lot of the pros I know don’t write every day. They take breaks between books, or breaks for other reasons, or take weekends off. At this point, I’m not sure I’d know how to take a break from writing. As I said, I’ve become rather deeply superstitious about it. Writing is a self-fulfilling ritual. If I want to keep writing, I have to keep writing. Irrational, I know, but there it is.
Now the question, especially for the working pros and nearly-pros: Do you write every day? Do you take breaks? How do you decide when to take a break? How hard is it to get back into the groove?
I love my job, but there are plenty of days I don’t feel like writing, and I have to drag every word out of my brain kicking and screaming, painfully. (I just had a couple of those days, which is what brought this up.) But if I didn’t write when I didn’t feel like writing, I’d never get anything done.