The Discipline to Write DailyOctober 1, 2010 · By Chris Brogan
My friend, Frank McMahon, asked me how I was able to write a blog post every day. The mechanics of writing daily are one thing. But it’s the discipline that really catches most people. Let’s talk about the discipline required to write daily.
It Requires a Stillness
To write daily, you have to find a moment of stillness where you can put down your thoughts. Parents know that this is difficult. Busy people know that it’s difficult. And yet, there are ways to find stillness. We simply must build the desire to find that time into our daily habits. Never look for a time that’s ideal. Look for the time you can grab. Right now, I’m doing this post in the morning before the kids are awake. I sometimes sneak time at night. Other times, I can write in between projects at work. I hunt for the stillness.
It Requires a Practice Mind
Some writers are afraid that their output won’t be good. If you can accept that you’re write daily, and frequently, then you’ll know that you’re practicing. Runners know this. They have bad runs and they have great runs, and along the way these add up to improvements in their personal records. My friend, Laura in Altanta, contacts me once every week or two to let me know she’s pushed past another personal record in her running. She also tells me when she’s had a bad series of runs in a row. It’s all part of it.
The same is true with writing. Not everything I write is my best work. But I release it when it seems done, and I try again for the next piece. By the way, what I think of my writing is rarely what you think. The pieces I hate, or the pieces that come out really fast and seem obvious are the ones you praise. The ones I work hard on, I get a few comments and they float under the bridge.
Writing Daily Requires a Curiosity
I write all the time, every day. The thing is, I write quite often in my head, and only sometimes into a keyboard or onto paper. That’s how it is when you’re a writer. You’re talking to a friend and they say something with an interesting turn of phrase, and you forget everything else they’re saying. You hear one thing though someone said something else and it sets you off down the rabbit hole. Alice, of Wonderland fame, was curious. There would be no book were she not such a nosy investigator of things that weren’t her business.
Writing Daily Requires Framing
Things go so much better when you have a writing frame of some kind. That way, you know the rough shape of what you’re going to produce. If you’re writing fiction, you know to keep the plot and the characters moving along. If you’re writing haiku, you know to keep it brief. If you’re writing couplets, well, you get the point. I can face the keyboard with confidence because I know that I’m going to produce a certain kind of piece. It will be part story, part explanation, and part instruction. It will end (hopefully) with you feeling interested in adapting and taking the idea to execute on your own.
I do that by framing.
Writing Daily Requires a Fall-Forward Mentality
On the day you miss a post, don’t throw it all away. Just write two the next time you have a moment. Start writing in advance of the day. Start preparing for the bumps in the road. And then, you’ll have quite a lot of stretch in your world, so that you can still write daily, even when you miss a day (our little secret).
Writing Daily Requires Confidence
Finally, accept that you’re a writer. You might not be the best writer. You’re a writer, and you’re one of us (writers). Be that. Don’t say that you’re not a writer because you haven’t written a book. I’ve met several people who aren’t writers who have written books. I have met several people who aren’t writers who have written bestsellers. You’re a writer because you write. You’re a writer when you write. Writing is a verb, the way love is a verb. If you’re not actively writing (even when we write in our head), you’re not writing. So, write.