There are two types of authors: those who schedule their writing on a regular basis and those who binge write, putting thousands of words down at a time in a frenzy, with long breaks in between. Stephen King is a famous schedule writer, putting down a solid 2,000 words every single day of the year. On the other hand, Arthur Conan Doyle wrote the first Sherlock Holmes book in a period of three weeks. Both sides have pros and cons, but most experts tout scheduled writing as the ideal. Are there benefits to being a binge writer, instead?
What's the Difference?
Those who schedule their writing on a daily basis treat the act of writing as a job. They sit down at close to the same time every day and hit some type of goal before they get up such as so many words written or so many hours behind the keyboard. Once they hit their goal, they're done writing for the day (although they may spend hours on other tasks such as editing or marketing).
Binge writers, on the other hand, tend to only write when they feel inspired. They crash through large chunks of a book every time they sit down in front of the computer. They may write for long hours at a time, sometimes creating entire books in days or weeks. When the work is done, binge writers may not create anything new for weeks or even months until the mood hits them again.
The Advantages of Binge Writing
One of the best parts of binge writing is that it's exciting! Writing is supposed to be fun; why do it if you don't enjoy it? If you think skydiving, roller coasters and downhill skiing sound like a great way to spend your free time, you may have enough adrenaline junkie in you to become a binge writer. Every writer's been hit by sudden inspiration that's driven her to the keyboard (or at least a pen and paper) before the idea evaporates, but the binge writer relies on this feeling to fuel her writing career. Binge writers love looming deadlines, and they live for NaNoWriMo each year. Binge writing can cause an intoxicating rush and it can leave you with an incredibly satisfied feeling at the end of a writing session.
Binge writing can ensure the words get written if you live a very busy lifestyle. If your job requires you to put in long hours, if you've got small children constantly interrupting you, or if you find yourself frequently traveling, filling in an empty Saturday with a long writing binge may be the best you can do. It's flexible no matter what the rest of your life looks like, and it still allows you to create your books. Sometimes that's all you can manage to do, and it's better than not writing anything at all.
Binge Writing Disadvantages
If you're looking to produce a set number of books on a schedule, binge writing won't work for you. It's unpredictable, at best. Whenever you get a brilliant idea you grab it and run as far as you can, but these ideas may take a long time to arrive.
Binge writing is definitely not kind to your health and wellness, nor does it play well with a work/life balance. It's exhausting to pound the keyboard for 10-12 hours straight, and it's just not sustainable. You'll feel a buzz while those golden words are appearing on the screen, but you'll almost always hit a wall, eventually. When that happens, you're not going to be able to write again for a while. Burnout is a real thing.
It's tough to grow in your craft if you're a binge writer. Once you're done with one writing binge, you may not be able to concentrate on editing or improving your book before moving on to the next inspired piece.
Writers often begin as binge writers, and it's a way to get words down when you don't have any other choice, but it's not the ideal way to create a career as an author. For most people, treating writing as a job is the best way to guarantee that books will be finished and readers will get what they want from their favorite authors.
Keep the Faith and May the Force be with You!