Writing every single day is something I have been doing since 1975, my senior year in high school. It is why I claim to be a writer, even though I have never made enough money at it to even begin to think of myself as a professional writer. I kept a journal/diary/series of notebooks that I filled with junk I wrote and doodles in the margins up until the middle 90’s when I began to put all my noodling into computer files instead of notebooks. I have literally millions of words piled in piles of notebooks and filling my hard drive to the point of “insufficient memory” errors on my laptop. I am now 60 years old and have been writing every day for 42 years.
There are days in the past where I only wrote a word, or a sentence or two. But there were a lot of words besides the words in my journal. I started my first novel in college. I completed it the summer before my first teaching job in 1981. I put it the closet, never to be thought of again, except when I needed a good cringe and cry at how terrible a writer I once was. I have been starting, stopping, percolating, piecing together, and eventually completing novel projects ever since… each one goofier and more wit-wacky than the last. So I have a closet full of those too.
It would be wrong of me to suggest that my journals are only for words. As a cartoon-boy-wannabee I doodle everywhere in margins and corners and parts of pages. Sometimes the doodle is an afterthought. Sometimes it precedes the paragraph. Sometimes it is directly connected to the words and their meaning.
Sometimes the work of art is the main thing itself.
But always, the habit of writing down words and ideas every single day takes precedence over every other part of my day. That’s the main reason I am stupid enough to think of myself as a writer even though I don’t make a living by writing.
But I did put my words into my profession too. As a teacher of writing, I wrote with and to my students. I did that for 31 years as a classroom teacher, and two years as a substitute. I required them each to keep a daily journal (though they only got graded for the ones they wrote in class, and then only for reaching the amount of words assigned). We shared the writing aloud in class, making only positive comments. I wrote every assignment I gave them, including the journal entries. They got to see and hear what I could write, and it often inspired them or gave them a structure to hang their own ideas upon. And often they liked what I wrote and were surprised by it almost as much as I liked and was surprised by theirs. Being a writer was never a total waste of time and effort.
So am I telling you that if you want to be writer you have to write every day too? If I have to tell you that… you have totally missed the point.