So this article was originally supposed to be about comparing how much you write with how much professionals in other fields practice their craft. For example, how long does a violinist practice each day, or how many miles does a track and field star run. As I was trying to research these numbers two strange things began happening. The first was that I kept getting information about golf (not really important) and the second is that when I did get the chance to look at how long professionals practice, it wasn’t nearly as long as I had assumed. To be precise, no matter what field I looked at the practice time was no more than a few hours. Why? What does this mean to writers?

First the why. It seems that the common consensus is that how long you practice doesn’t matter as much as what you practice. Have focused meaningful practices seem to have a greater benefit than wearing yourself out with longer practices that are just generally focused. The first actually helps you improve in the area that you practice, the second seems to just be random exercise. In fact, many times people who do those long unfocused hours of training are considered amateurs because they haven’t realized yet what it takes to master their craft.

What does this mean to writers? Does the same thing hold true for our “practices?” Yes and no. Practicing in a particular problem area (like dialogue or descriptions) can help us raise our writing to the next level, long hours of writing nothing but dialogue can get boring. Not to mention that the writing will start to become forced after a while. That does not mean, however, that writing for long hours doesn’t have its place. If you write for a living, most of your time should be taken up with writing tasks. It would be pretty hard to make any money just sitting down for a couple of hours a day. Another thing to keep in mind is that writing is a bit of a unique craft. I think it’s fine to write until your brain gets tired (breaks often extend this) and then stop when you are struggling to make sense of your own words. It is a common belief among writers that the more you write, the better you get. It is a belief that I share, so in that case writing for long hours can benefit the writer.

Having said that, there is another part of writing than just sitting at a computer or piece of paper and just writing. Research, forming ideas, making outlines, promoting yourself and what you have previously written, are all parts of writing. When you combine these with regular writing, it becomes quite easy to get several hours worth of work having to do with writing. Switching between tasks can help with mental fatigue and keep the ideas flowing.

What do you think? How long do you generally spend writing each day or week?