Writing and Publishing

Are You a Binge Writer?

I always encourage writers to write every day. That’s what I do. Slow and steady wins the race. I learned that as a kid from the turtle in Aesop’s fable “The Tortoise and the Hare.” The turtle is wise. The turtle embodies discipline. The turtle has focus. I applied turtle thinking to my writing because I wanted to finish; I wanted to win.

I think all writers should act the same way, but not all do. Some writers work in spurts; they’re binge writers. Though I don’t personally know any binge writers, I have heard about them. When they have a deadline looming or another incentive, they jump into their writing like a rabbit, going at it as fast as they can. They might write the first draft of their book in two weeks, working ten to fourteen-hour days, seven-days-a-week. Then they stop and rest, often for weeks or even months. If you write in spurts, you get this. I don’t.

Though there are days when I put in extra time to finish a project, reach a goal, or meet a deadline, I could never work all day on the same project. And I could never string together multiple days like that. If I tried I’d get cranky, and my writing would falter. My wife wouldn’t like me, and I wouldn’t like what I wrote. I’d have to redo it, a little bit each day. Slow and steady wins the race.

So, unless you’ve proven that binge writing works for you, I encourage you to work like a turtle; write some every day. Plod along with persistence towards the finish line.

Now when I say to write every day, this is not absolute; it is more of a trope. What I mean is to make a writing schedule that works for you and then stick to it the best you can. For you this may mean writing Monday through Friday; it may mean writing every weekend or just on Saturdays. Perhaps carving out Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings is what works for you, or maybe every other day. For me, it first meant weekdays, then six days a week, and now seven. But I had to work up to it – and I wanted to work up to it.

Whether you write like a tortoise or a hare, the important thing is to write.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s book: Successful Author FAQs: Discover the Art of Writing, the Business of Publishing, and the Joy of Wielding Words. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book Successful Author FAQs for insider tips and insights.

By Peter Lyle DeHaan

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, publishes books about business, customer service, the call center industry, and business and writing.

2 replies on “Are You a Binge Writer?”

Not necessarily a binge writer like you describe, but also not a sit your butt at desk for a set amount of time every day. Most I can write on any given day is 6-8 hours and I can’t do this for days at a time, usually only one or two days then I cut down to four hours and take the weekend off. That’s when I’m actively working on a WIP which isn’t every week. Other weeks I write blog entries, edit, but not much more.

I’ve heard there are two types of writers – those who compose their rough drafts in their heads and those who compose rough draft on paper. I’m the first type. I usually think about what I plan to writer for a long time before putting pen to paper. Then when I do write it comes out quickly, not a finished product at all, I still do plenty of editing, but not a rough draft. I find forcing myself to sit at a desk and trying to write when I’m not ready is counterproductive for me. I’m better off getting outside in nature or going for a bike ride. That’s where my best ideas come.

What do you think about two types of writers?

Patricia, this is an interesting question!

For most of my writing, I come up with an initial concept in my head (sometimes no more that a title or opening line), and then I develop it as I write.

However, for fiction (which I don’t do too much of), I have things well-developed in my mind before I do any writing.

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