WMBTSG Day Eleven (Comment to this post to enter today’s drawing)

Welcome to day eleven of the Writer Mama Back-to-School Giveaway. Today’s giveaway is The Daily Writer by Fred White. How exciting, another new title this fall from Writer’s Digest Books!

The Daily Writer
366 Meditations to Cultivate a Productive and Meaningful Writing Life
by Fred White
Writer’s Digest Books, 2008
ISBN 978-1-58297-52-0
$17.99 paperback, 384 pages

About the Book
It isn’t always easy to carve out time to devote meaningful thought and energy to your writing. Hectic schedules, distractions, and creative blocks all too often interrupt the dream—postpone it for another day.

But with 366 provocative entries—each addressing a specific facet of the writing craft, and accompanied by an in-depth reflection and a stimulating exercise—The Daily Writer provides you with easy entry points into that elusive space where words matter most and helps you to embrace writing as a way of seeing the world.

Whether you’re looking for a way to better integrate writing into your life, get warmed up before you dive into a bigger work in progress, or overcome an old case of writer’s block, The Daily Writer can help you establish and maintain an inspired devotion to the craft.

About the Author
Fred White, an associate professor of English at Santa Clara University in Northern California, received his Ph.D. in English (emphasis on rhetoric and the teaching of writing) from the University of Iowa. In 1997, he received Santa Clara University’s Louis and Dorina Brutocao Award for Teaching Excellence. He is the author of four textbooks on writing, the latest of which, The Well-Crafted Argument, co-authored with Simone Billings, is in its third edition (Houghton Mifflin, 2008). Other recent books include LifeWriting: Drawing from Personal Experience to Create Features You Can Publish (Quill Driver Books, 2004; a Writer’s Digest Book Club Selection); Essential Muir: A Selection of John Muir’s Best Writings (Heyday Books, 2006); and Approaching Emily Dickinson: Critical Currents and Crosscurrents Since 1960 (Camden House, 2008). He has also published numerous shorter works—most recently a one-act children’s play, Beowulf & Grendel—an adaptation of the great Anglo-Saxon epic (Big Dog Plays, 2007); a full-length play, Bones, based on the life of the poet John Berryman (Oregon Literary Review, 2005); plus essays, short fiction, and poetry in The Cambridge Companion to Emily Dickinson, edited by Wendy Martin (Cambridge University Press, 2002); The Chronicle of Higher Education; College Literature; Confrontation; Pleiades; Rattle; The San Jose Mercury News; and South Carolina Review. He lives in San Mateo, California, with his wife, Therese (an attorney), and their insubordinate cat, Cordelia.

Read an interview with the author over at writersdigest.com.


Today’s question: Do you write on a daily basis? Why or why not? Would this strategy work for you? Do you have another strategy that works instead? Talk about writing daily and whether you think it’s important advice.

If this is your first post in the giveaway, please read “Da Rules.”

You may post your comments until midnight PST on September 11th.


42 Responses to “WMBTSG Day Eleven (Comment to this post to enter today’s drawing)”

  1. 1 Stacy Smith Rogers September 11, 2008 at 3:58 am

    Daily writing has become as much a habit for me as my morning cup of tea. Sometimes the words flow freely and other times I sit frozen for a few moments. Over the years, I’ve allowed myself to write without judgment and to forego the proofreading along the way. I recognize that, for me, just sitting down and typing a paragraph or two prompts other ideas throughout my day. Perhaps it’s something cognitive and scientific involving neurons and such. Whatever the case, I feel more productive and ready to take on the challenges of the day if I’ve had a chance to tap on the keyboard before I take a shower, nurse the baby, make school lunches, find socks that match or battle tangled ponytails. As a mom trying to juggle working and mothering at home, writing each day offers me a satisfaction of knowing I’m producing something that can jump start other ideas, whether it’s personal issues I’ve addressed in my journal or possible leads for an article I’ve been reluctant to tackle.

  2. 2 Mary Jo C. September 11, 2008 at 6:07 am

    I wish I could say, “yes” I write daily. Does writing at my day job count? Reports, updates, emails and such?
    Not for the writing career I want and not for the swell of excitemenet that usually fills my chest when I write for me.

    I firmly believe writing daily is essential – to everyone, even nonwriters. Communication is so important and how do we improve our skill if we don’t practice it?

    Journaling helps to get my mind centered and most of the time improves my writing in general. Timed writing helps me to get over the slump and just do it. Deadlines keep me progressing forward. Word counts keep my writing tight, concise.

    I would love to read this book!

  3. 3 Sage September 11, 2008 at 6:17 am

    Writing daily: a juicy invitation and exploration. I write daily, because I write for a living. This keeps my skills and sensibilities honed to a certain extent. What is more challenging for me is to make daily time to get into that wide open emotional/spiritual zone of poetry…I started my blog in 2006 as a dare to myself to write something every day–something that someone, someday, might read. It was a good challenge, and for nearly a year, I did it. In the past year, I’ve been busy writing a book, doing my full-time job, establishing a partnership and being pregnant. It’s not easy to hold space for poetry amidst so much action. My invitation to myself in the next three months of maternity leave will be to invite poetry back in…See if there are any words waiting for me in the margins and mysteries of my new life…Thanks for asking!!

  4. 4 Abbey September 11, 2008 at 7:27 am

    I don’t write daily, but it probably would be very beneficial. I tend to only write when I have a deadline approaching, like an article or assignment. Writing just to write isn’t a big enough motivation for me. There are too many other things to do. I hope that in another season of my life I can carve out more time for regular writing, but right now, it’s not a realistic expectation.

  5. 5 andrea September 11, 2008 at 9:11 am

    I do not write everyday, but I aspire to write everyday. The idea of writing for a purpose other than recording my own rambling thoughts is new and I haven’t figured out my strategy or routine yet. I jot down ideas and sketches quickly so I don’t lose them, but I don’t take the time daily to expand on them. I started blogging, but haven’t achieved an everyday status with that, yet. I love the idea of writing everyday – I accomplish things in great big bursts of work in between long periods of inactivity. I want more balance. I think this book would help me find that little push I need on days that are lacking in inspiration.

  6. 6 Samantha Marquis September 11, 2008 at 9:16 am

    Although I would love to say that every day I sit down at the computer or with a pen and paper to write, I can’t with a straight face. I have attempted to write daily, but often find myself putting it off until later, which ends up inevitably being tomorrow and then tomorrow. There is always a load of laundry and errands to run in between chasing around my thirteen-month-old daughter. Naptime seems to be the best and worst writing time for me.

    It becomes daunting to write when you know there’s a chance you will sit down and simply stare at the screen. I bounce from project to project, so as not to find myself at a dead end which means at the end of the day I have a pile of partially pursued ideas.

    I would love to write daily. Daily prompts may be just the ticket to get my creativity bubbling so I can have a smooth flow into one my current projects each week and feel as if I am making progress as a writer.

  7. 7 Cara September 11, 2008 at 9:19 am

    I write only when I feel inspired to do so, because for me, writing is a joy and a privilege and I never want to make it feel like a punishment by forcing myself to write when I really have nothing to say. That being said, it is a rare day that I don’t engage in a “writing related activity”.

    This could be scanning the internet for new calls for submissions, re-reading my old writings, checking out my favorite websites, making a trip to my local library to shelf reading books and buy some of the 25 cent specials, sitting down and immersing myself in a novel or book of poetry, or even just going about my normal everyday activities, because what better inspiration for writing than everyday life? Taking a break, even of a day or two is like a mini summer vacation for my creative energy. I get to come back to my writing rejuvenated, and ready and raring to go!

  8. 8 Angie Goodloe September 11, 2008 at 9:24 am

    I do write daily, usually it is in my journal or blog. Since my daughter was born back in 2006 I have had an uncontrollable urge to write. It may not be considered productive, but it is always therapeutic.I think in the long run some of the ideas I write in my journal will be a great start off point for personal essays.
    I would like to start practicing some exercises to get out of my comfort zone. I tend to only write about things that interest me.
    I have recently started reading Writing Motherhood by Lisa Garrigues and other motivational books about writing. These books have given me some great ideas.

  9. 9 Laural September 11, 2008 at 9:35 am

    Honestly, I don’t write every day. I parent every day, I think like a writer every day, but I don’t always put pen to paper or fingers to keys. I feel like I’m very efficient when I do grab the time – no time for writer’s block, here. Maybe I still could still be that productive if I devoted the time daily. Hmm.

  10. 10 krysk September 11, 2008 at 9:35 am

    I try to write everyday. I used to do morning pages religiously and then I had children and decided that every extra minute of sleep was too precious to give up! It has only been in the past couple of weeks that I have moved towards writing in the morning again. I find it is important to me to write everyday, especially as it gives me a chance to simply write for myself, rather than always writing for another audience. Sometimes my morning writing becomes confused with my critical mind, which is what I want to stay away from. I am working on simply getting lost in the moment of writing, rather than always second guessing myself or wondering how I can turn my journal into further article queries. I need to simple stop my mind and write – if that makes any sense.

  11. 11 Eliza September 11, 2008 at 10:21 am

    When I’m working on a first draft, I do write every day. When I’m editing, like now, I can’t. I’d love to be able to develop a routing where I wrote -something- every day. But especially after I’ve finished a first draft, I need the rest, I ned the time to refill the well, and I’ve learned that I have to give new works time to roast before I can make sense, find a voice, et cetera.

    I do blog daily, though, which is good, one, as a PR thing and two, because it keeps words flowing from me.

    My husband does encourage me to write fiction daily, though, because I’m a much nicer person when I’ve gotten even 500 words done. 😀

  12. 12 Judy September 11, 2008 at 10:36 am

    I strive to write every day. I’m probably successful six out of seven days each week. There are times when I put in a marathon session because I am on a roll. I keep have a notebook and idea book with me at all times. Sometimes I write randomly, other times (mostly) it’s with purpose. I keep everything and go back to visit it from time to time, changing it or picking up where I left off. This sounds like another wonderful selection.

  13. 13 Celestial Goldfish September 11, 2008 at 10:39 am

    I would say that I write four or five days out of the week; it’s more difficult on days when my husband is home because we leave the house to do errands, or he wants to use the computer. However, it’s important to keep my writer’s mind active and engaged daily. In quiet moments, I mull ideas in my head and create characters. I jot down notes in my writing diary so I can develop them more later. If I see a story in the news that piques my imagination, I clip it or find it online and bookmark it.

    As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I keep a daily list of tasks on my fridge whiteboard. If it’s on the list, I’ll likely get it done. Sometimes it may be actual writing, whereas other days it is a writing-related task like detail research studying markets and agents. It’s all necessary stuff, and some days it may take ten minutes, and other days it occupies three hours. All that matters is that it gets done and it pushes me towards that goal of publication.

  14. 14 gb September 11, 2008 at 10:43 am

    I currently write 3 days a week, sometimes 4. Since I’m new at this, I’m still striving to find a mom-writer balance that works for me and my family. Ultimately, I’d like to write daily. The process of writing is as important to idea development as pondering or researching is, so I believe daily writing will improve both the quality of my writing and my productivity. But I’m not there yet.

  15. 15 Cheryl M September 11, 2008 at 10:46 am

    I do not write daily (unless you count e-mail), but I do think about writing every day. By that I mean that I read newsletters focused on writing or at least the digest from the momwriters yahoo group. That helps me feel like a writer even when I am not actively putting together an article. I prefer to write on a targeted project rather than freewrite – maybe that’s the difference between a non-fiction and a fiction writer? I’d be interested to hear if people writing non-fiction articles also spend time journaling.

    I have appreciated these daily questions to add some writing and thinking about writing to my day!

  16. 16 Lisa September 11, 2008 at 11:23 am

    I don’t write every day – other responsibilities and commitments always seem to take priority – even if it’s just doing the laundry. This current strategy I’m using is not working, it’s not getting me any closer to my writing goals. Because the mom/writer job is a new one for me I’m still trying to find my balance and figure out how to make it work. I believe writing daily is very important and I think I’ll challenge myself with that goal. It will make me feel more professional and I’ll take my writing more seriously. Not to mention I can always use the practice.

  17. 17 rowena September 11, 2008 at 11:25 am

    I find I do write on a daily basis, if you include all the various projects I work on. But I know I could go farther. When I write my novel everyday… let’s just say it goes much more smoothly. I work on getting my writing practice up, but I let other things get in the way.

    One thing I have found helps this writing habit is to keep a writing log. The time of day, how many hours, how many pages, how many words. If I have revised. Some ideas or questions that come up. This is also good to keep track of times that may be the most productive. Also, a way to see that you are moving forward, even if it seems as if you will never be done.

  18. 18 Cat September 11, 2008 at 11:35 am

    I write pretty much every day–there may be a day that’s so busy I don’t have time to even write in my journal or scribble out some ideas, but most days, I manage at least that much, and I do use prompts when I feel uninspired just to get me going. When I’m not writing–when a day or so passes and I haven’t written–I feel off, like things aren’t as they should be. Maybe it’s a habit, maybe by now, I just need to write to feel like me.

  19. 19 anniegirl1138 September 11, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    I write daily. I get cranky even when I have to skip a day or two because of things that come up with my family.

    I think that being a writer, regardless of genre, means working at your craft everyday. When I taught, I taught everyday and outside the school year I took classes and worked on my skill set. It’s how I became a good teacher. Writing is no different. It’s a use it or lose it proposition.

    It’s not easy to write every day. Inspiration accounts for only a small part of writing. Mostly it’s sitting down with your favorite writing medium (computer, paper/pen or dictating to a recorder) and doing it for a specific length of time or a set number of words/ pages.

    Prompts can be helpful when getting started or when blocked though I think that eventually you have to learn how to find your muse or muscle past inertia on your own.

  20. 20 Kisatrtle September 11, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    I do not write daily when it comes to the personal writing I would like to complete. I do write regularly, but not daily. I would love to set aside a time and avoid other distractions, but I have yet to figure out how to do that and still accomplish all of the things I need to throughout the day.

  21. 21 Jaymie September 11, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    I do not write daily. I do try to build in writing opportunities throughout the week, though. I am taking a class at church about writing your spiritual memoirs. I have notebooks where I write down information from books or websites or sermons that I want to remember or reflect on. I have a notebook to record the things my son says so I will remember them later. Then I have a blog and a journal. With all of those options, I get some bit of writing done on a somewhat regular basis.

  22. 22 Pattie September 11, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    I wish I could say I write every day, but I don’t. It used to be such a large part of my life. I used to be an avid journaler, writing my thoughts and feelings, my observations about life, my girls, my husband.

    What happened? I just don’t know. I went through a rough spot earlier this year, and I think it squelched my journaling. I still occasionally write in it, because the act of “brain dumping” really helps me think more clearly and reasonably.

    I still write in a blog, but it’s mostly book reviews and occasional observations, not anything deeply personal.

    I would like to get myself motivated to write each day, and a prompt book would be a super way to get my creative juices flowing.

  23. 23 Melissa September 11, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    I write daily, but not in a well-structured, routine sort of way. I would love to get into a routine of writing at a specified time for at least X number of minutes (or even hours!), but so far I haven’t quite managed it. I do think it’s easier to keep on with a project when I’m working at it regularly and keeping it in my head in between times. I guess I just have to give some thought to the logistics of it!

  24. 24 Julie P September 11, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    Writing daily has become as much a part of my routine as every other part of my life. And my life is pretty routine-driven.

    I write product reviews for a blog and on the days that I don’t post a review, I find I’m writing pitch letters and responses to product companies.

    Writing daily keeps me moving and sharp. It keeps me focused on goals and allows me opportunities to brainstorm for my bigger writing projects.

  25. 25 Elizabeth September 11, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    Just this summer I returned to writing every day. I think it is very important and hadn’t realized how much I had missed the discipline and the creative energy from writing daily.
    I’ve missed a couple of days, but it is liberating to be able to have my own writing, even just briefly, before starting a corporate or newspaper writing piece…or making oatmeal.
    I would definitely appreciate the strategy of The Daily Writer because it would give me something to focus my writing on…instead of just blathering about the kids sticking peas up their noses…or whatever.

  26. 26 Jen September 11, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    I think daily writing is important because it keeps the writing muscles warmed up and ready to go at a moment’s notice.

    Before I was a mother of a 1 and 2 year old I did write each day, both professional and journal writing.

    I’ve found that although I don’t really do either of those kinds of writing anymore, my blogs and other little projects (“Letters to my Chilren”-type journals) keep me writing.

    When I am actively writing to submit an essay someplace or taking a class, I do write everyday then as well.

    So I would say I do write daily, even if it isn’t all writing that’s heading me back into the professional direction I want to go 🙂

    I do think writing daily is important advice. For me, it keeps the process of writing friendly and familiar rather than something to feel dread or guilt over for not doing it.

  27. 27 Amber September 11, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    Except for November I rarely write every day. It’s a good habit to get into though and I should try setting that as a writing goal for next year.

    I suppose there is some truth to the brain being a muscle that needs a workout but I think it has more to do with using that side of my brain. When I write every day the words come easier when I sit down to write and the plot rarely stalls. If I don’t write on a daily basis then I need to fiddle around for 20 or 30 minutes before I can concentrate enough to get right to it.

  28. 28 Chris Clark September 11, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    To do anything better, you need practice. So to become a better writer, you need to write often to improve.

    I write every day for my job but I also try to work in some creative writing or something completely different than my “work” writing, just to keep my brain moving in lots of directions.

  29. 29 Mar Junge, c3PR September 11, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    Not only do I write daily, but I often write for more than five hours daily. That’s the life of a PR writer. In fact, it’s not uncommon for me to go back to the computer after midnight when the phones have finally stopped ringing and all is quiet to finish an article – and still be tapping away at the keyboard as the sun comes up. That’s seven hours straight of writing without even realizing that the entire night has slipped away. Sleep for an hour or two and do it all over again. The more you write, the easier it gets. The downside is that when you write for a living, making time to write for fun is not easy. So my fiction writing sits while my bank account grows.

  30. 30 anna September 11, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    Yes, I do write each day–but not necessarily “work” writing . . . I think my artist-self would rebel if I set a work-writing deadline for myself each day. So instead I let emails or other “random” writing substitute for creative writing if I just don’t have the creative juices going for my current project. Mind you, if a deadline is looming, creativity is forced, for sure 🙂

  31. 31 Renee September 11, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    I do write every day, mostly paying work though. I would welcome the chance to flex my creative muscles more, such as with the exercises in this book. If I have a specific program or course syllabus to follow I’m much more disciplined. I don’t have the organization and thinking ahead skills required to accomplish 366 ways to cultivate my writing. In my dreams, maybe!

  32. 32 Beth@MommyComeLately September 11, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    Do I write daily?
    To some degree or another, yes.
    I don’t commit to a certain number of words produced.
    I would rather say I live the writing life daily, which for me involves writing and editing and mentoring and critiquing and rewriting, rewriting, rewriting.
    Since I live in both the fiction and non-fiction worlds now, I might work on a press release one day or an article the next. And then it might be a stretch of magazine editing, if that’s the hottest deadline.
    Most weeks I polish a chapter for my WIP–a new item on my writing TO DO list.

  33. 33 Laura September 11, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    I know that I should write on a daily basis. I want to write on a daily basis. I have been having a lot of trouble trying to attain the goal of daily writing. When I was writing daily, or at least 3 days a week, I know that I got a lot more done, and enjoyed it a lot more. However, recently, the back to school routine has gotten me off track.

    I think I need to simply quit morning all the extra time I had (after work) during the summer, and instead find a new routine, new times to write. Writing daily is very important to me.

  34. 34 Katrina September 11, 2008 at 7:46 pm

    I have two perspectives on the importance of writing daily…well, maybe three. Daily writing is important because the more one practices the art, the more one sees improvement. In fiction, I find writing daily on a project is critical so as not to “fall out of the story,” if you will. If I let my fiction sit, it is difficult to re-enter the narrative and continue writing. For non-fiction, I don’t find this to be the case. Perhaps because of the shorter timeframes and perhaps because I’m working with information that’s in front of me, for the most part, rather than creating in my head, it’s rarely a problem to let an article sit and work on it again at a later date.

    I’m not much for journaling, except when I’m distressed. I can’t write when I’m in emotional turmoil, so I empty my head and heart on paper, and when drained, proceed with my projects. Sometimes I wish I did love to journal. From a historical standpoint it’s fascinating to read another’s journey; I would love my son to have something like that.

  35. 35 Christine Silva September 11, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    I don’t write every day in that I don’t produce something written of which I am proud and that I would call writing. However, I do try to do something every day that relates to my writing. Some days are just too hectic and overloaded with kids stuff and house stuff and I know I won’t make it to the computer until late at night if at all. Those days I try to take a notebook with me and scribble some notes or ideas. Ideally, I might write a little sketch or paragraph that could become something someday. Maybe I might block out a query idea. But some days, I’m lucky to get a few phrases scribbled down. I’d prefer to have a dedicated block of time where I can clear my mind, center myself, and write for a bit. But even if I lack that, I try to apply myself to the craft in some way each day.

  36. 36 karen September 11, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    I don’t write every day. But, like exercise, I try not to go more than two days without writing. I’m afraid I’ll slip out of the habit if it goes longer than that. When I’m extremely tired or just need to read instead of write, that’s when I’ll use my go to bed without writing pass. Maybe writing every day would be best, but sometimes I think it’s better to rest and refuel, and knock em’ dead tomorrow.

  37. 37 Betsy September 11, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    Every day I either write on paper, or on my computer, or just in my mind. In the morning through my dreams, I find ideas that I didn’t know existed and I wake up with new ways to express myself.

    Writing is a way to bare your soul and heart and without reservation. The art has existed for years and still finds a way to fulfill the needs of many talented people.

    People come together through the written word. The color of your skin, the number of dollars in your pocket, the country you live in, the relationships you have can all be told in a story. We all have a story to tell.

  38. 38 Teresa Hall September 11, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    I do write everyday. I have to. I would love to say it’s because of my inner muse or some deep seated need to express myself through pen and paper or keyboard and screen, but here’s the unvarnished truth: I am such a procrastinator at heart that if I take a day off, it becomes two, then three- you get the picture.

    What I don’t do is write for work everyday. On my days off I try my hand at some fiction and creative writing, which, as of yet is just a hobby. Or I write on my blog. Oh, yeah, my blog- gotta run, I just thought of some writing I need to do before I sleep tonight!

  39. 39 KristyG September 11, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    I haven’t yet made the commitment to write daily, although it’s been a goal of mine for a while now. I always feel more satisfied with my self, even if I only scribble out a few lines. While I feel that I am an organized person, I just haven’t carved out that right niche of time. There, I just set my goal for the week. It is time to stop procrastinating and do it.

  40. 40 alirambles September 11, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    When I was working on the first draft of my novel, I couldn’t imagine going a whole day without writing. The scenes sort of piled on top of each other in my head while I was going about the daily life of a mother of 2, and I had to get them down! Now that I’m in the editing process, I don’t write (or edit, even) daily, but most days I do write something for one of my 2 blogs.

  41. 41 elizaj September 11, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    I do write every day but it’s more of a by the seat of my pants than a planned thing. It just happens because I need to write. I’m a voracious journal-er.

    If I planned it and was committed to a certain amount/time on a certain project … who knows to what great heights I could attain. Or not.

    There needs to be that free spirit element for me. That’s my challenge. To harness and plan and yet still feel the flow.

  1. 1 WMBTSG Day 11 Drawing: And the winner is… « The Writer Mama Riffs Trackback on September 12, 2008 at 11:02 pm
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