On each of the big three treks I’ve undertaken—the Appalachian Trail, paddling the entire coast of Florida, bicycling from coast to coast—the first two weeks were the hardest. I lost my appetite, I had to energy, and every day I doubted whether I was physically capable of the journey. And then at the end of the second week, I felt like a switch had been thrown inside me. Overnight my appetite doubled and my energy and stamina exploded. I hauled ass out of camp and felt great the rest of the day. This summer I also discovered the same was true for writing.
A common piece of advice for young writers is to write every day. When I first heard this I thought the advice was intended to help you produce pages. After all, writing is hard. Getting started is the hardest part. When I sit down to write something, I suddenly remember all the other things I have to do. I’ll clean the floors, wash the dishes, scrub the bathroom—anything other than write. Lots of housework gets done around here when I have real work to do. So this tendency to procrastinate means we don’t end up writing anything at all. Stop procrastinating, I was told, and write every day. That’s the only way you’ll get anything done.
I think the advice that one should write every day should come with an explanation, and a vision of the future. It’s not just about increasing productivity. When you write every day, the writing gets easier. This summer I intended to finish my novel and set a goal for myself of 5 pages a day. For the first two weeks, getting started was hard. I would sit down, write a few words, become frustrated, get up, fold laundry, get something to drink, come back, write a little bit more, get up, and so on. But then, at the end of the second week, when I sat down to the write, the words just came out onto the page. Getting started wasn’t hard anymore. It felt like a switch had been thrown, just like when I was hiking, kayaking, and biking. My pen flew across the page with the comfort, ease, and confidence I felt when goal down the trail.
So I challenge all young writers to write every day for two weeks and experience what I experienced, not because I think you need to ramp up productivity, but because writing will become the enjoyable experience you always wanted it to be.