Confessions of a Binge Writer

Photo credit: Victoria Nevland on Flickr
Right. So. 

There are a lot of posts floating around on the internet on the importance of writing consistently, including posts from yours truly. But there are also a lot of posts out there implying you’re not a real writer if you don’t write every day, and I want to dispel that myth right now.

Or, you know, at least help dispel it.

Let me start this post again.

Hi, my name is Ava, and I’m a binge writer.

When working on a project, I sink into hyperfocus mode. If I’m first drafting, I write every day, and usually aim for around 2,000 words a day. If I’m revising, I revise every day possible, sometimes for only an hour if I’ve had a really tiring day, but many times for huge chunks of the day, when I have the time. When I’m not writing, or revising, or plotting, when I’m in class, or working on something else, or walking around town, my mind is elsewhere. It buzzes with whispers from the story, with scenes I’m working on or revising, with characters, and potential plot possibilities, and snarky lines of dialogue, and emotion emotion emotion. When I’m with people, I’m there, but I’m not.

For however long I’m focused on the project, I’m living in the world of my book.

This means I tend to get through stages quickly. I’m a definite fast-drafter, and average about three weeks when first drafting (regardless of length—the longest first draft in recent memory, which ended up around 83k, I finished in sixteen days). Out of the last couple rounds of revision I’ve done, I averaged about fifteen days per revision round (though I’ve been known to finish heavy revisions in a week, when I have time to block out entire days).

It also means when I finish, I usually emerge pretty tired and definitely in need of a break. Sometimes this lasts a few days. Sometimes a few weeks. Sometimes more than a month.

During that time, besides blog posts like this one, I don’t write. I don’t revise. I don’t work on a project.

What I’m trying to say is, if I’m not working on a project, I don’t write every day. And I force myself not to feel bad about it, because I need those breaks so I don’t burn out. I need some time to let my brain rest, and sit back, read, catch up on Hulu, and relax. I need some mental health days so I don’t run myself into the ground.

Writing every single day, 365 days of the year, is not a requirement of being a writer.

You know what is a requirement? Taking care of yourself. Physically, mentally, emotionally—it’s all important, because in order to create your best, you need to be your best.

So do your best to write consistently and keep the momentum when you can. But don’t forget to take care of yourself in the process.

Are you a binge writer? 

Twitter-sized bites:
"In order to create your best, you need to be your best." (Click to tweet)  
Writer @Ava_Jae says it's not a requirement to write every day. What do you think? (Click to tweet)


Rebecca Kelsey said...

I really needed to hear this, thank you. I've been trying to force myself to write daily but the drive really isn't there for me.

Kindness is the best accessory,
Rebecca -

Erin said...

Yeah, I'm a binge writer. But I'm kind of like that about everything in my life: laundry, chocolate, exercise, Netflix, cooking. When I was in college the psych doc told me I was bipolar. Explained a lot.

Ana @ Butterflies of the Imagi said...

I know some writers who are binge writers, but I'm not one of them. I'm not a very fast drafter, so I tend to go for the more consistent writing routine. I agree that everyone is different and writers should just write the way that will make them the most productive and happy.

Madeline Osigian said...

Oh my goodness! Thank you, Ava! This is me to a T! I don't write fast, but when I am writing, the ideas usually flood me. And I can't escape them. I've felt a little guilty for not working on editing my first draft recently. I've taken a break of several months. But whenever I see "real" writers like you taking a break, I am so happy!
Of course, on those breaks, I am working on other projects. :)

Ann Noser said...

So glad you wrote this. I agree--daily writing isn't something I can keep up with, but when a project moves me I go gangbusters. :)

Heather said...

I'm not a binge writer myself, but I do think the idea of a "Burnout Prevention Plan" is a pretty good one, since it does happen to everyone. I mean, every writer's going to be different, but if you're a fast-drafter, I can imagine that the rest period would be longer than someone who slowly writes on/off/on/off like me. Always good to look at a different perspective. :)

Ava Jae said...

You're welcome, Rebecca! There's definitely a lot of pressure out there on writers to write every single day 365/days a year, but that's not what works for everyone, and that's okay!

Ava Jae said...

Ah, yeah that makes sense. Writing is the only thing I tend to be binge-y with (except Netflix/online TV shows, probably). But that's understandable.

Ava Jae said...

Exactly! Everyone works a little differently, which to me makes the processes that much more interesting. :)

Ava Jae said...

You're so welcome, Madeline! Breaks are definitely an important part of the process, and I think it's important for writers to talk about it, because it's not frequently discussed (which sometimes accidentally gives the impression that writers never take breaks, which...yeah...).

I will say, however, that you're just much as "real" writer as I am! So don't forget that. :)

Ava Jae said...

Yay binge writers! lol. Whatever works, right? :)

Ava Jae said...

Everyone is definitely at risk for burnout if they're not careful, so yes, I think a prevention plan is important (and I like the way you worded that!). I've found my rest periods can vary and I can't usually predict how long I'll need off...but they're definitely necessary for me. :)

Also, I agree! Different perspectives are always great.

Ellen said...

Here's to us binge writers!! Thanks, Ava! I don't feel so alone anymore.... I've always welcomed my down time but struggled with the guilt that came with it. I do remind myself that it's this down time that leaves me open to new inspiration, to new experiences -- necessary for the life of a writer. My husband and I live on the road, traveling full-time in our RV, seeing the country. I write when I can. And I take a LOT of notes. I have more ideas and possibilities than I'll ever be able to get onto paper. No such thing as "writer's block" here :) And I'm guessing it's something you don't suffer from either...?

Madeline Osigian said...

Yes, I know I am. You're just closer to getting published. A lot closer! :)

Emma Adams said...

I'm definitely a binge-writer, and I find I lose focus if I take days off mid-draft. When I'm writing or editing, I'm totally "in" the project - I can't work half-heartedly. This does mean I get things done quicker, but it also makes it hard to get back into a project after spending time away from it!

Hannah Hunt said...

I am totally a binge writer. My drafts tend to go on for maybe a month for my longest, I've swung complete rewrites of MSs in three while also in school, and I've taken the last six months off to not write and recover from my last binge.

Personally I don't think there's any correct or right way to be a writer other than being persistant about it. If it takes you a month or three years to write a first draft, nothing else really matters other than the fact that you're writing.

I will admit though when I come back from a break it takes a little bit of time for me to find my footing again and get back into my characters because they tend to change a bit during the radio silence of not writing. But that's what makes each draft fresh and enjoyable for me--to uncover the little new things I can about the people and worlds in my head.

Ava Jae said...

You're so welcome, Ellen! I think understanding your process is an important part of figuring out what works best for you as a writer. And related, accepting your process is equally important—for example, breaks are important!

As for ideas, funnily enough, I'm not the kind of writer who is always overflowing with ideas—in fact I tend to find them challenging to come by. That being said, once I have an idea I really like, it evolves from there and I don't let myself have writer's block while I'm writing—if I get stuck it's because I don't know what's going to happen, and the solution is to figure it out. :)

Ava Jae said...

That's so interesting! I definitely find that I need to stick with a project while I'm working—if I lose momentum, it's much harder to get back into it, like you said. Thus far I haven't experienced any issues when getting back into a work after a while, though, which I'm grateful for because part of juggling several drafts means needing to take sometimes rather long breaks in between. So we have similar processes, but with tweaks. :)

Ava Jae said...

I completely agree that there isn't a right or wrong method when it comes to writing—whatever works for you works for you, and a lot of writers have really varied processes!

As for getting back into it, it sounds like you're like Emma in that respect. I usually find the first read-through is enough to get me back into the writing world, but I can definitely understand how it might be a little difficult at first!

Ava Jae said...


Shelby M said...

I just discovered you today (through and I'm loving your blogs/vlogs! :) I especially love this post. Ever since I started to write as a very little girl, I've sought advice from older writers and I've ALWAYS been told that it's important to write a little bit every day, and that "binge writing" can be detrimental to progress overall. But the "slow and steady" mentality never worked for me and I often wondered if I just wasn't cut out to be a writer! I'm a music major in college right now and obviously daily practice has to take precedence over daily word counts. I stopped writing completely for the past 3 semesters because I felt guilty about only writing in big spurts now and then. Thank you so much for this blog post! You've inspired me to dig out some of my WIPs and write at MY pace. I look forward to reading your future blog posts! :)

Ava Jae said...

Oh yay! Firstly, welcome to Writability! And secondly, double yay!

I'm so so happy to hear you found this post encouraging. I definitely understand that not-writing guilt—I went through a pretty long hiatus a few years ago and the guilt felt pretty gross. But you absolutely do not need to feel guilty about writing in spurts—everyone works differently, and whatever works for you is what you should do. :)

Happy writing!

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...