This post is by Michelle of Wicked Whimsy.
One of the most common pieces of advice given to aspiring writers and, by extension, bloggers is to write every day. The idea of a daily writing practice is thrown around as though it’s a cure-all for any malady.
Don’t get me wrong, I try to write every day, but the advice as it’s given is missing an important component. And it can be downright harmful in its closely related form: “Write every day—it doesn’t matter what you write, so long as you’re writing”.
Recently, I had a stint of a week or two where I was writing almost constantly, and all of it was for the viewing of others: blog posts for my blog, guest posts for other blogs, client work.
When things slowed down a bit, I took a week long breather since I had a backlog of blog posts‚ I was still writing daily at 750words.com and my private journal, but that was it.
And, to my surprise, when I sat down to write again, I found it nigh impossible. The words simply refused to come. I couldn’t figure it out—I had found it so easy to write only a week before!
The new version: write for others every day
There’s a big difference between writing something that you know will be private, and writing something that others will see. I propose that if bloggers want to keep the ideas coming, keep writing, and most importantly, keep improving their writing, then writing every day isn’t enough.
Instead, you should be making it a point to write for others every day. Why?
There are two main reasons:
- You hold your writing to a higher standard. If something is private, you have no pressing motivation to keep improving it aside from your own drive. Sometimes that’s enough, but sometimes it’s not. If you know that your writing will be in front of hundreds or thousands of people (or even just the one paying client), you definitely want to make sure it’s up to scratch.
- It keeps you in a quality writing mindset. Writing for yourself is often an entirely different experience than writing for others. It gives you a moment to pause and reflect on your day, tease out thoughts you might not have known you had, and record your experiences. These are all totally fabulous things in their own right, and doing these on a regular basis might (eventually) make you a better writer. But they’re not the same thing that you need to be taking into consideration when you’re writing for other people. When writing for others, you need to think about headlines, subheadings, ease of reading, and how well you convey your message. If you’re not actively practicing writing for others and maintaining the mindset that comes with it, then chances are your improvement will be nonexistent or marginal.
It could also be argued that writing for others makes you more creative, but several other talented bloggers have recently addressed that idea here on ProBlogger, so I’ll just point you towards those posts for that debate.
You don’t have to write an entire, polished post every day. Depending on your schedule, that might not even be possible. But do try do something like writing a post draft or editing another post, just to keep you in the groove of writing for others. You could even make commenting a part of this practice—as has been proven in several ProBlogger posts, commenting is a vital part of growing your blog and your brand. A well-crafted comment makes both you and the blog you left the comment on look better.
Do I think a daily writing practice is vital? Definitely. I also think that bloggers are in the business of writing for other people—so that’s where our focus should be. I still write for myself every day, but now I know better than to fail to put the focus on writing for others every day.
Michelle Nickolaisen is a rainbow-haired writer, blogger, and all-around creative maven making her way in Austin, TX. She writes at Wicked Whimsy about saturating life with constructive creativity, among other topics.