Keeping your idea muscle active on days you can’t spare words.
“Write every day”
This must be the most common writing advice on the internet.
And to be honest, it’s the most effective.
I’ve reaped the benefits of daily writing. From May to July 2020, I wrote one article on Medium every day for 90 days. This was the spark that kickstarted my Medium journey. Because of that initial push, today, I have 150k+ followers and make a living as a full-time writer.
But did I write something every single day of my adult life? No.
Vacations, sickness, family emergencies, unexpected chores — you name it, and the distractions never stop coming. Most of the time, they aren’t even in your control.
Here’s a harsh truth every writer needs to accept: Writing every day is challenging, no matter how committed you are to your craft.😢
Indians have a saying that just about sums up everything: Shiz happens.
Life’s demands, work, and relationship commitments can derail even the most dedicated writers.
Then how to stay consistent as a writer without writing every day? That’s exactly what this article is going to address. It comes from the perspective of someone who has spent three years building an online writing portfolio of 800+ articles.
Introducing… The Idea Muscle
The key to being consistent with your writing (even when you can’t write every day) is:
Keep your idea muscle active.
According to James Altucher’s book Choose Yourself, there’s an idea muscle in our brain. The more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes. With a strong idea muscle, you can get better ideas in lesser time. Writing ten ideas every day is a surefire way to make your idea muscle rock-strong.
But what about the days when you have no time to breathe, let alone journal for thirty minutes writing ideas?
There are two ways you can keep your idea muscle active when you take a break from writing.
1. Observe and learn
The secret of good writing is powerful stories. Luckily, stories are all around us:
- That conversation you had with a stranger about their favorite spot in the city,
- That 10-minute bargaining session with a business owner to get your outfit for cheap,
- The discussions with your friend or partner while settling on what food to eat,
All of these contain stories. And even if these stories can’t be turned into content, they can teach you essential elements of hooking a reader’s attention and making them want to keep reading more.
The next time you’re out, keep your phone aside and observe. The best stories come from a well-lived life.✨
2. Take notes on what resonates📝
Like a dialogue you heard? Note it down.
Saw a face you aren’t likely to forget? Sketch it in your memory.
File away bits and pieces from the world around you that you resonate with for later use in your writing. I prefer carrying around a pocket notebook to jot down random ideas, but you can use your phone’s Notes app as well.
This way, you’re always on the lookout for inspiration. Even if you aren’t producing work, you’re collecting ideas. These ideas might not turn into articles, but they’ll act as the spark to ignite your creativity in the throes of your worst writer’s block.
Returning to the Grind
Breaks from writing are normal. There’s no point beating yourself up on your lack of productivity. Breathe, and let these breaks come, knowing they’ll one day leave, leaving you time to write to your heart’s content.
When you’re ready to get back to the grind, take things slow.
Build an anchor habit to get back into the rhythm of writing something every day.
When I get back from a long break, I always tell myself, “I’ll ideate 10 articles today, no matter what.”
This isn’t directly related to writing, but ideas are always valuable, and they make sure I have some foundation to work upon. When I turn on my laptop, I don’t have to stare at a blank screen for hours with nothing going on in my brain.
My day starts with idea journaling followed by two hours of writing or reading. This habit acts as the anchor to my daily writing habit.
You pick whatever anchor habit comes the easiest to you, and structure your routine around it. It’ll keep you going even when you don’t feel like writing.
And you’ll slowly regain your momentum. 🧡
How to be a Consistent Writer When You Can’t Write Every Day: Final Words
Summing up, here are the three ways to stay consistent when you can’t write every day:
- Observe and gain stories from your environment. Dissect what makes them fascinating, and learn the art of effective storytelling from these observations.
- Take notes whenever something resonates with you. Store these notes and you’ll be surprised in what form they make an appearance in your writing.
- When you’re ready to get back to the grind, build an anchor habit to regain momentum after the break.
I hope this article inspired you and gave you the confidence that you don’t need to write every day to call yourself a writer. I’m leaving you with a quote for some food for thought.
“You don’t have to be exceptional every week, but as a minimum, you need to be at a level that even on a bad day you get points on the board” — Sean Dyche
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