Saturday, June 16, 2012

Write or Die

by Mindy McGinnis

In all of the reams and reams of writing advice out there in the world, the one bit of wisdom that is repeated so often I want to put my face in blender is - write everyday.

I've heard a lot of aspiring writers bemoan the fact that they can't possibly write everyday, their lives don't allow for that. Guess what - mine doesn't either. And I don't write everyday. In fact, there have been periods in my life where I didn't write for years at a stretch.

What a lot of people don't realize is that writing takes many forms. Whether you're working on your blog, editing, re-writing, or critiquing for a partner, I still consider that writing. Your brain is still firing up the English language and taking it out for a spin, whether you're fixing old words of your own or helping a friend polish theirs.

Time spent daydreaming is a form of writing for me, or at least I count it as such. If dialogue is spewing out of my head while I mow my five acre yard, I consider it multi-tasking. Jotting it down before I jump into the shower may be the only time I actually put pen to paper, but I'm still writing.

I'd go so far as to say that even reading is a form of writing. I don't feel lazy when I curl up in a chair with a book. I'm still working, looking at what this writer has done right to make this book the next one I picked up - or what they did wrong that makes it the next one I put down.

So aspiring writers, don't feel like you don't have the time to dedicate yourself to jumping onto the writing train because you don't have time to write everyday.

Chances are, you're already doing it.

Mindy McGinnis is a YA author and librarian. Her debut, NOT A DROP TO DRINK will be available from Katherine Tegen / Harper Collins Fall, 2013. She blogs at Writer, Writer Pants on Fire, and contributes to the group blogs From the Write Angle, Book Pregnant, and Friday the Thirteeners.


  1. I used to write everday, almost, but my opening chapter caused me pain for about 5 months. Then, one day, I spent just doing world-building and Googling images of coral reefs. Then, I wrote, and it was done. Relief!!!

    One day spent thinking is worth 10 days of frustrated writing. In my case, it is worth 5 months.

    Great post.

  2. Great post. I hate feeling like a failure when I read that advice and know that at this point in my life, I can't take it.

  3. I try to write every day... but it's tough with another job and daily responsibilities. I will admit to sometimes writing during meetings or sneaking inside to write when I'm supposed to be weeding the front flowers :)

  4. Love this, Mindy. I also don't write every day and don't feel bad about it. I feel like I get in more quality time on the days when I am physically writing and I spend the rest of the time thinking about my story and characters, plotting, etc.

  5. Yes! I love to hear people considering reading as a kind of work. I do, but sometimes feel I might be cheating myself at the same time. Because if reading is work, then this is surely the best job in the world. (A fact, and true.)

  6. SC - completely agreed. If you think out the kinks before you write yourself into a corner, you're saving yourself days of editing.

    Jenn - I feel the same way. I hear that advice so often and I'm like, "Dude, I haven't *written* in six months, by your standards."

    Mary - Exactly. It's tough as hell. That's why I HATE that advice. It turns so many people away / off before they even begin.

    Brandy - Nope. I'm guilt free, like you :)

    CJ - Sigh. Oh reading, what a chore ;)