Write every day.

One of the most common recommendations given to a writer is to write every day. Certainly, there are authors who deny the importance of this advice, saying that they only write when they have something to say. It probably says something about me that I write anyway, which is sort of the way I speak, I suppose. A very old boyfriend, in both senses of the adjective—he is ancient now and he was my boyfriend 45 years ago—once said of me that I was a better talker than listener. Or did he say “bigger?” This is a disease that blindness has cured, (I hope) since ears are my lifeline to everyone and everything. Nevertheless I probably still have opinions that I spout which are not based on solid information. But I digress.
Writing helps me find something to say, to find what I want to say. Writing clarifies my thinking. The benefit to writing every day is that it forms a habit—an addiction. I need to write as much as I need my one cup of coffee a day, except for Fridays—I swear off coffee one day a week, just to pretend I’m not its slave. But I don’t swear off writing, unless I’m freakishly busy with other things.
Writing is my reward for doing drudgy tasks. Often, though, I sit at my computer first thing and get my dessert before the necessary nourishment of re-ordering my house and yard, giving my guide dog her regimen mileage.
As common as the “write daily” advice is, I’m always surprised by the rich and important discussion that follows when I ask how often my writing group members get to their keyboards. In both my critique groups we meet every two weeks. Most members use the deadline of that meeting to get some writing done. But the sharing that comes from raising the issue seems to inspire a greater commitment to finding writing time.
Matt Bird, a wonderful blogger, http://www.cockeyedcaravan.com, suggests 3 pages a day. He says it’s vital to know how much of the 750 words or so is solidly good, because invariably much will not be. But one of my writers quoted another author whose name escapes me, saying that it’s enough to write one scene per day.
However much you can swing, I strongly advocate writing every day. Commit to it for three or four weeks and see if it becomes as habitual as showering or exercising—two effective ways for mental writing workouts. Our habits aren’t always bad.

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About Sally Hobart Alexander

Blinded at the age of twenty-six, I left California and elementary school teaching for life in Pittsburgh, Pa. There, I met my husband, got a Masters' degree in social work, had two kids, now 35 and 32, and became a writer. Surprisingly, the writing career led me full-circle to teaching, and I teach in Chatham University's M.F.A. program and lead two writing critique groups. Always, since the age of 26, I have traveled, not in the stereotypic darkness attributed to blindness, but a mist. My blog then, "traveling through the mist" will deal with issues in my culturally different life as a blind writer, teacher, speaker, and human being.
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