5 Things More Important Than Writing Every Day

May 01, 2020
 Created by the author — original image from Pexels

 

Let me tell you a secret. I don’t know you. None of the writers you read know you. So how can any of us demand you spend more time writing?

I only started writing this year yet I’ve already seen too much writer shaming. Everyone has their own lives and problems. You don’t have to write every day if it’s not right for you. It seems so obvious but when was the last time a self-labeled successful writer told you that? They don’t know what you need to sacrifice.

We’re complex and you are allowed to have many passions you love. Maybe you won’t get as many followers and views but do you know anyone who has this on their tombstone?

 

This quote by James Patterson has always resonated with me. Writing as a side hustle adds the sixth ball to life and is so bouncy it makes the work ball feel like glass.

“Imagine life is a game in which you are juggling five balls. The balls are called work, family, health, friends, and integrity. And you’re keeping all of them in the air. But one day you finally come to understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls…are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered.” — James Patterson
 

1. Family

My family is important to me and ranks far higher than writing. I’m not impressed by boasts of commitment to the hustle by publishing on family vacations.

I don’t have children but it’s not hard to empathize with writers who do. They have little humans dependent on them for love and attention. Parents who can balance this well deserve respect. It’s much easier to tell everyone else to work hard when you only need to look after yourself.

Have you ever tried to tell social services you couldn’t feed your kid because you had to write an article a day to keep the mean internet guru away? I don’t think it would go down well. This goes for pets too, don’t forget to walk the dog!

It’s easy to lose sight of the sacrifices your family makes to let you write. Whether it’s emotional or financial, try to show your appreciation. Small actions could mean a lot to them. Don’t feel guilty about skipping writing for the important moments with those who you love.

 

2. Work

I enjoy my day job and certainly would not prioritize writing over it. I value the people I work with and the lifestyle it gives me.

Most writers do not earn enough money to make this their full-time income. It is painfully obvious when you look at earnings reports from blogging websites. These people will need support or another job to keep going. When another job provides you with a stable reliable income, it makes sense not to throw it away.

I call madness on those who tell others to quit their jobs and go all in. This requires privilege and blindness to survivor bias. We rarely hear from those who went all in and failed because, by definition, their stories did not reach a wide audience! We don’t know how many failed for every superstar writer.

We don’t have to be like those who’ve leaped. Working for a stable salary is nothing to be ashamed of. You can find meaning in your work and your writing. I do.

 

3. Health

The moment writing stops being good for my mental health I will stop. My journey energizes me by processing my thoughts. Yet I have no regrets about taking breaks to avoid burnouts.

Writing, like many passions in life, can be a force for good and bad. Cambridge University research suggests “expressive writing can be used as a therapeutic tool for survivors of trauma and in psychiatric settings”.

But it can be unhealthily obsessive and dominate your mind. Success depends on the approval of readers so writers face constant opportunity for rejection. I’m recovering from an addiction to seeking validation in my statistics.

Writing is a stationary activity by nature. The problems of sitting at a desk for long periods are well documented. It’s not easy to fit in a full-time job, content creation, and exercise into one day. Giving up regular movement to reach arbitrary targets can lead to long term problems.

I don’t know you but I would rather you were healthy than you increased your daily word count. Take care of yourself and don’t let the pressure to write disrupt your mental well being. Your stories are not your master.

 

4. Friends

My friends have been brilliant supporters and I’m not just saying that because they are reading!

Writing can be a scary task and it’s easy to lose track of your friends and their problems. If a friend has just broken up with their partner, sending them a link to one of your articles isn’t the best idea!

Not all writers are extreme introverts who don’t want any friends. You can think of friends now who make your life better. We don’t need to overanalyze this but the people you can laugh and cry with are priceless. We are social animals by nature and don’t need to lock ourselves up to write all the time.

Be there for the things that matter and for things that don’t. Life is to be enjoyed not productivity hacked. I see writers telling others to cut lesser people out of their lives. Yet if you fail, it is your true friends who will be there for you, not internet commenter #202.

You need to have a story to tell to make your readers care. If you alienate all your friends and stop having fun, where will these stories come from? Inspiration comes from living.

 

5. Integrity

Selling my soul for more views isn’t something I am willing to do. I’d rather be authentic and less successful.

The internet is drowning in clickbait. Intentionally controversial titles to get people to click and to trigger outrage. Conspiracy theories designed to cause panic in readers. Talking down to the reader and lowering their self-esteem. Sharing private stories without everyone’s consent.

This is what sells right?

For some writers, this is just a part of the game. I believe most have values where they don’t want to harm others. Look inside yourself and decide what you think is acceptable. Your integrity can be eroded in a panic to get something published every day. When the focus is on publishing something no matter what, the “what” might be your principles.

I’ve met fantastic people through writing and take the time to support them. This takes up parts of my limited time but doing what I consider right matters more.

Great writers can publish quality several times a day but if you aren’t there yet, it’s ok to take it slow to keep your integrity.

 

All you need to know

Write as often as suits you and your life! There’s more to life than writing and don’t let anyone put you down for disagreeing. Fellow writers show each other compassion.

Spending more time writing will make you more successful as a writer but it’s not the same as being more successful as a human. Create your story and you decide how big a character your writing is.

Have a wonderful day!

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