Dawn Bevier in a recent post disputes three bits of writing advice we find frequently in writing tips: Don’t use synonyms. Don’t write long sentences. Write and publish every day. I’m sure you’ve all read them somewhere. I agree with Dawn in questioning all three, but especially the advice to write and publish every day.
Writing is my side hustle. Most days I do it because I love to express myself. When I’m not in the mood to write I do it for brain exercise. I do some form of writing every day, but I don’t publish something every day. I’m lucky if I have time to publish a blog post once or twice a month. Here’s why I don’t publish more often.
My writing simmers in draft form
I agree with Dawn that writing needs to simmer a bit before publication. Most of what I write simmers for days or weeks. Some sit on simmer for months or even years. There were some content sites and even one of my blogs where I tried to publish daily, but they were for simple thoughts. Anything I really care about simmers at least overnight.
Posts for my City Daily Photo Blog, Paso Robles in Photos, were based on a picture a day with almost no words required. I usually wrote at least a couple of hundred words anyway. For over two years I posted to that blog every day, even after I started other blogs. I hardly have time to touch it now. It hasn’t been daily for a few years. I’d rather publish something I’m not ashamed of occasionally than force myself to publish something I know is inferior to meet a daily schedule.
Yet I do some form of writing or editing daily, whether it’s for Medium or one of my own blogs. (My drafts folder on Medium contains over eighty unfinished posts.) Sometimes I submit long posts to Instagram or another social media site. And sometimes, like today, I expand on a comment I started in response to another Medium writer’s post.
I usually don’t publish until I’ve proofread a piece of writing so many times I never want to read it again. Sometimes it’s weeks or months before I hit the publish button.
I’m almost eighty. My brain isn’t as quick as it used to be. I’m sure sometimes when I look at something I just wrote, or wrote last week, that my keyboard had a mind of its own. I can’t believe what I’m seeing and wonder how I, a former English teacher, could have written it. Sometimes I blame auto-complete when I’m on my phone, but it sometimes even happens on the computer. I have to edit many times and then edit what I’ve edited. Sometimes I still miss something.
Writing practice isn’t worth publishing
Reading, writing, and editing are all good for the brain. That’s one of the main reasons I do it. All writing helps build skill, but not all of it is worth publishing. Sometimes I will kill pieces I’ve started rather than finish and publish them.
Am I too picky?
I rarely believe something I publish is as ready for my readers as I’d like it to be. I know there’s always a way to improve it. I know my limitations, but I don’t want to publish shoddy work just to publish more often. I hope to publish the best writing I’m capable of in the time I have as often as I can. That is not likely to be every day.
How do you determine your writing schedule?