Whether you’re a professional writer, a wannabe writer, a writer with writer’s block, or not yet a writer at all, writing every day has numerous benefits. Not only does it improve your writing, it improves your creative thinking and can help you manage stress and indecision.

Read on to find out why you should write every day, how to set a schedule for writing every day and of course, what to write every day.

Why Write Every Day?

This sounds like a lofty promise, but writing every day has the potential to literally make you a better person.

Even if you aren't an aspiring writer trying to write their first novel, writing every day can have a range of mental health benefits.

Studies have shown that writing every day can help improve your self-discipline – which isn’t unique to writing, but any endeavour that requires focus and commitment. Writing every day isn’t easy or, as the saying goes, everyone would do it.

Beyond self-discipline, writing every day can help cultivate self-awareness as you write down your thoughts. For many people, writing every day becomes a safe haven for their personal thoughts and it can help you examine your personal relationships, professional goals, dreams and desires – just a few of the things that many of us rarely talk about out loud.

How to Start Writing Every Day

black typewriter
The distraction-free days of typewriters are gone. Now it takes commitment just to focus.

In a life filled with distractions, stress and Netflix, carving a space every day for writing requires just as much self-discipline as going to the gym or learning a new language – so don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get the hang of it immediately. But it's also important to not fall into the fallacy of 'writer's block' and allow that to paralyse you into inaction.

To quote Stephen King, who has written over 200 books and short stories,

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”

Because so many people have the technical ability to write, many potential authors get frustrated with their inability to speed-write an entire novel each year like Stephen King or Danielle Steele. Be patient with yourself.

Like a professional athlete, writing every day takes a huge level of commitment and ambition. Natural talent is only one small part of the puzzle, the rest is hard work and dedication that few people ever see.

For some people (particularly those with small children or hectic work schedules), waking up an hour early to focus on writing is ideal. This means they can be awake without any distractions, and fully engage with what they are writing. Of course, if you’re not naturally a morning person, waking up as the sun rises could leave you feeling groggy and tired for the rest of the day.

Some people, especially night owls, will write best in the late hours when the rest of the world is asleep. This can be difficult for those with young children or those who start work early, because even if working late at night works best with your internal rhythm, it could mean you don’t get enough hours of sleep each night.

There are others, particularly freelancers or temporary employees, who don’t have a schedule dictated by their working hours – these types of people will have to figure out how to slot in an hour or two of writing, often at different hours of the day or night.

person writing on sheet of paper
Whether you're a professional or a beginner, there's nothing worse than a blank page.

Ideally, you would carve out a time and space every day to create a safe haven for creative thinking, but this isn’t always possible in our hectic modern lives. The idea of a solitary writer clacking away on a typewriter in the middle of the woods is long gone – if the only time you can find is at your work computer during your lunch break, or on a notepad while your kids are at extracurriculars, then that’s better than nothing.

Here are some tips to help you set a daily writing habit:

  • Set a daily reminder to write. It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to simply forget to write.
  • Don’t aim too high. For some, thousand-word goals are simply unrealistic and will end up becoming discouraging. Instead, aim for a time slot every day (e.g. 15 minutes) and increase it as you go along.
  • Get rid of all distractions. It’s incredibly easy to start doing some research on a character’s name, and three hours later you’re on Wikipedia reading about Dragons of Greek Mythology. If research is imperative to your writing, try to perform research and write separately so you don’t fall down any internet wormholes.
  • Just get started. It’s an irritating piece of advice, but it’s true. Whether you go in with one sentence or one thousand words, morning or night, the only important thing is to start.

What to Write

Now that you’ve eked out a time and space for your writing, the only thing left is to decide what to write.

The answer is, of course, write whatever you want. You can write romance stories, sci-fi or fantasty, creative non-fiction, contemporary fiction, young adult fiction, reference material, how-to guides or travel guides. There is no one form of literature that is better than another, so just write whatever feels right for you.

Here are a few more tips to help you decide what to write:

Writing Prompts

You can find daily writing prompts online, in forums, from apps, or even in literary magazines. Sometimes they can be vague and only intended to spur you in a direction (e.g. write 150 words on the colour blue) or they can be highly elaborate – the first few sentences or paragraphs of a story, which you then continue.

There are so many places to find writing prompts, that the most difficult part of it will be finding prompts that suit your style and subject matter.

But, when you get started, don’t disregard prompts just because they aren’t to your style. After all, becoming the best writer you can be means learning how to think creatively and exploring as many styles as you can.

Here are some prompts you can use to get going:

  • Write a story about a character who starts off as a pessimist and ends up an optimist.
  • Write 500 words about your childhood bedroom.
  • Write about your favourite memory.
  • Write a short story about someone based on their shopping list.
  • Write a story about someone unexpected showing up at a funeral.

Journalling

Journalling is perfect for those who don’t have ambitions to become professional writers, but want to experience the rewards that come from writing every day. Because no one will ever see your work, there’s no pressure to make it perfect – you can write whatever comes naturally.

For example, journalling can include:

  • Write down 3 things you’re grateful for today.
  • Write down your goals for the next year.
  • Write down some of your favourite memories.
  • Write down your dreams.
  • Write letters to your loved ones.
  • Write letters to those who have hurt you.
woman writing with pen on paper
Now that you know you want to write, what do you want to write?

Many people’s journals also contain sketches, music notation, photographs or whatever else makes them happy. The great thing about journalling is that there’s no right or wrong way to do it!

Word of the Day

Many apps and websites offer a Word of the Day, with the intention of teaching users the definition of a new word. Many of these recommend that the user tries to use that word in at least one sentence - but you're a writer! Take that word and write a 300 word story where you can seamlessly use the new word you've learnt.

Here are a few examples of words of the day:

  • Mellifluous
  • Mitigate
  • Fraught
  • Gormless
  • Sentient.

Additional Tips and Tricks

  • Carry a notepad around and jot down any interesting interactions, ideas or words that come to you.
  • Don’t judge yourself too harshly. Remember, no one has to see your writing until you’re ready to show it to them.
  • On the flip side, if you aspire to become a published writer, you’ll need to start getting comfortable with rejection – the sooner the better. Show people your work.
  • Start small. You don’t have to write a novel on your first try. How about flash fiction or a novella?
  • Find a community of writers. If there are none in your area, find some online.
  • Find someone you trust to proofread your work, and don't get offended if they have critiques.
  • Don’t allow yourself to use writer’s block as an excuse. Write something, even if you think it’s awful.

Writing every day can seem like a daunting task, particularly if you haven't written in a while. Whether you're a beginner or seasoned professional, a blank page is equally scary - the only way to overcome it is to begin!

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Diona

Diona is a award-winning copywriter and digital strategist from Belgrade based in Johannesburg.