There is a lot of advice for writers circulating on the internet, often from famous authors. One piece of advice that I often see is “Write Every day”. I have also heard this mantra from aspiring writers, as if this is the golden rule to becoming a successful writer. It does sound like sensible and aspirational advice, but I don’t agree that this advice is optimal.
To write well takes an enormous amount of effort. To improve at anything also takes an enormous amount of effort. Since a writer should generally be looking to push their craft forward, they are both pushing themselves to improve and to produce high quality work. This is by no means easy, not for established writers and definitely not for writers who are starting out. The amount of energy it takes to achieve such goals is unsustainable on a daily basis.
I don’t believe people should do any work-related activity every single day. People need rest, both for their physical and mental health, but also to continue to produce high quality work. Speaking for myself, I have found that when I am pushing hard on a draft, and really getting into a good flow so that I’m producing a good output every day, that at a certain point, as my mental fatigue builds, I grow impatient and start to fantasize about clearing out in a short amount of time whatever scene or chapter I’m working on. Generally, within a day or two of this, I notice the quality of my writing starts to deteriorate, as I’m trying to rush through the scene as opposed to giving it its due. At that point I have learned it is ultimately more productive to take a day or two off to rest and recover, than to continue to grind myself down while producing subpar work.
All that being said, I still believe writers should try to write most days. But if the choice is between writing subpar work or resting and recovering for the writer to have the energy to push themselves outside of their comfort zone and produce work above and beyond their standard, then I choose rest.