How many of us have stared at a blank computer screen, desperately willing the words to flow effortlessly from our brains to the page? And how many of us, resigned, are forced to admit that it only rarely works that way?
Inspiration strikes without warning. It’s fickle and capricious, coming and going randomly. It’s impossible to pin down, so how do you use these rare moments to their greatest potential? My answer: write everyday. Yeah, I know, ugh. Writing everyday is such a common yet impractical piece of advice. We’re all busy people. We have obligations, from family to school to friends to work to everyday errands, and we simply don’t have time or energy to buckle down and write everyday. So, how can you make this advice practical? How can you apply it to your busy life?
Believe it or not, it is possible. The trick is simply to avoid overwhelming yourself. There are a lot of writers out there who suggest writing a certain amount of words everyday, from as small as 200 to as ridiculous as 1000. But in my experience, word counts don’t work. At least, not when you’re trying to start a new habit. We’ve all had that moment of inspiration when we can scribble out 500 words with ease, and we think to ourselves, ‘That was easy; I can do this everyday!’. Well, then tomorrow comes with all its baggage, and suddenly 50 words is too much to bear. At this point, it’s all too easy to give up on our goal and then feel guilty about it later.
That’s where my advice comes in. Yes, write everyday. No, do not set a strict word count. Instead, your goal should be so simple and so basic that you could achieve it without much strain at all. My suggestion is to set a simple and achievable goal for your writing; for instance, write one sentence every day. Just one. It doesn’t have to be a long sentence. It doesn’t have to be impactful or poetic. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be good. All it needs to do is exist. And if it exists, guess what? You achieved your goal for that day!
You might be thinking that this is too simple, and that something so easy will never help you improve your writing—facing challenges is the best way to improve, after all. I agree, challenges can be very educational. But if you want to cultivate motivation to write, you have to be a little lenient on yourself. If you’re too harsh and demanding, you’ll challenge the inspiration away. Then you won’t write, and then you won’t improve.
By giving yourself this easily achievable goal, you can gain confidence and motivation with every day that you succeed. Somedays you may not want to write that much. That’s fine, just jot down a sentence and call it good. Somedays, though, you’ll have a lot to say, and you’ll be surprised at how much more you can write when you aren’t exhausting yourself with meeting a word count. Plus, you’ll have a lot more fun!
I tried this tactic of mine for a whole year. It was actually my New Year’s resolution, to write at least one sentence everyday. At first, it was kinda weird. I definitely forgot one day! Or two! But after a month or so, it became a habit. It was so naturally ingrained into my day that it started to feel strange if I didn’t write. And the best part was I never felt rundown by my own efforts. I learned to have fun writing, and I learned when to take breaks, too.
So, if any of you out there are struggling to get writing, whether it be 200 words or 20, my suggestion is to write just one sentence everyday. You’ll be surprised at how much more you write when you go slow and steady.