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November 20, 2012

The Discipline of Daily Writing

My father spent his career as an advertising copywriter, then creative director, then agency owner. (Yes. My dad was Don Draper.) Despite the glamour of three martini lunches and high-profile clients, he longed to write fiction, so he sold his agency and wrote spy novels full-time for the last decade of his life.

Writing every day is hard work, and it takes real discipline. To keep himself on task, my dad had a small sign on his desk that read, ‘Write, Damn it, Write.’ Most of my friends who’ve written books have found you’ve got to carve out regular hours for it, especially on top of other full-time work. People like Mark O’Brien or Katya Andresen who both write books and blog regularly tell me they carve out time for bigger writing projects at least weekly, while blogging is a more daily activity.  I try to follow that discipline, too.

Setting up that blog is just the beginning. If you’re serious about it, you’ll have to find the time to write regularly, maybe even daily.

I’m trying to keep my writing muscles in shape, and that takes time and commitment. I’ve found that when I force myself to write regularly, even if it’s just for 10 minutes a day, I’m able to articulate my ideas faster, and I’m happier with my prose. The longer I go in between writing stints the harder it is–just like exercise. I try to avoid getting sucked in to Facebook, Twitter, or other distractions. If I need a treat, I do some personal writing to clear my brain instead.

How do you keep your writing muscles in shape?