Writer’s Diary #5: Write every day, maybe not?

A lot of writing advice for academics emphasizes the importance of writing every day. I am thinking, for example, of Paul J. Silvia’s [How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing] (https://www.amazon.ca/How-Write-Lot-Practical-Productive/dp/1433829738). Sometimes, I’ve tried to follow such advice—keep a journal, write daily, keep track of how much I write, forget my excuses, make the time, etc. Such an approach has its place. But a new book I’m working on takes a very different approach. As much as there’s a choice to write a lot, there’s also a choice not to write.

If a lot of advice boils down to “don’t break the chain” and write every day, make it a habit, there are some days that this makes no sense.

I’m about to go on a trip to New York City with some students to share our work. We’ll be driving all day and, frankly, I don’t think I’ll find the time to write. The approach that seems to come out of a lot of self-help literature for academic writers is to find the time, come hell or high water. Get up earlier, stay up later, or squeeze it in somehow. But sometimes this is just not possible.

For next week, I plan the opposite: a conscious decision not to write. Sometimes doing nothing is the right decision, and with moving house, holidays, some weekends, the start of term and other urgent matters, doing nothing is a better approach.

Write every day, unless it’s not wise.