You Are Not Alone: Insights from the March 2022 Writing Habits Survey Results

Written by Claire L. Fishback, PMP

Book Coach & Story Strategist

March 21, 2022

About the survey

In March 2022, I posted a survey in several Facebook groups for writers (I asked permission first, of course). The reason I did it was because I wanted to learn more about writers and their writing habits for a project I’m working on.

The questions helped me gather information about the publishing status, author careers, and their writing frequency (all defined below in the glossary). I asked if they have a regularly scheduled writing time and, as a follow up, how often they show up to that writing time.

I also asked about motivation and distractions.

These are some of the results of my survey. For the full report, sign up above or at the end of this post to get all 19 beautiful pages.

Glossary

Why I ran this survey

Within these pages, you will find that you are not alone. The results of the Writing Habits survey from March 2022 are eye opening. 223 authors lent their time to take the survey. While I dissected and analyzed the results and figured out the best way to prepare this report to show the immense amount of data collected, I realized I felt less alone.

Writing is typically a solo practice. We tend to do our creative work in silos, sequestered from our families, friends, and other people. Our minds wander even though we do everything we can to eliminate distraction. We live inside those minds most of the time (I know I’m not the only one).

In the proverbial dark we hunch over our keyboards, notebooks, and stone tablets chiseling away at our word counts like homo habilis.

Bestsellers, published authors, those who have been writing—maybe their whole lives—but aren’t yet published, and those who are just starting out, as well as a handful of authors who are in other stages of life and their writing careers (retired journalists, people who write for their day jobs, people who write for others) are all similar in some way shape or form.

You’ll see.

Claire L. Fishback, PMP

Participant summary

Let’s jump right in!

I began my data collection by requesting permission (super important) to post in several writer’s groups on Facebook. Most of the 223 participants are published, either independently or traditionally.

There was a near three-way split between part-time and full-time authors. The part-time authors more often write while holding a day job (like me!), and the other part-time authors write in addition to having other responsibilities.

One participant even writes while holding two part-time jobs.

The participants in the “other” category are just getting into writing fiction in their retirement, some are hobby writers, some do freelance work, and one person is taking a sabbatical from the corporate world to explore writing full-time. I’m not jealous at all. 😉

I don’t know about you, but I’m a data nerd in addition to being a word nerd.

In the next section, we’ll dissect the data and learn even more about the participants.

Most writers write 3-5 times per week

In an attempt to make this report comprehensive, I thought it would be interesting to dig a little deeper into writing frequency and publishing status of the participants.

Authors tend to enjoy learning more about how others do their craft. That’s why there are so many books on how to write out there, right? So, if you want to see how often those bestsellers out there write, it’s 3-5 times per week. Same goes for published authors.

And what do you know? Those who aren’t yet published or are just starting out also write 3-5 times per week. We’re all the same! Let’s be friends.

Writers put health and family above writing

The most common reason to skip are what I call “life reasons.”

This includes taking care of kids or other family members, doctor appointments, health or illness related reasons, or other responsibilities such as work, exercise, other hobbies, or playing the harpsichord. Scheduled breaks and vacation were also sprinkled in.

I’m really impressed and overjoyed that so many writers put their health and family/friends, as well as scheduled breaks and vacation, above writing. Self-care and caring for/spending time with our biggest supporters—our family and friends—are key to living our creative lives. And if we don’t take care of ourselves (physically and mentally) our writing will definitely suffer.

Who hasn’t experienced some sort of burnout in the past couple years?

I’m distracted and unmotivated. Are you?

The most common excuses, outside of life happening (listed in the “other” category in the graph above), are writers tend to be tired or brain dead, distracted, unmotivated, have too much to do, or plain old procrastinate. Writer’s block came up a few times as well.

Writers sometimes devote portions (or all) of their writing time to other areas of their author business, such as marketing and publishing tasks. But sometimes, social media, checking email, and other similar distractions keep writers from writing.

One person was attacked by ninjas. I really hope you are okay, whoever you are!

Do you feel less alone yet? I know I do!

What surprised you the most about the survey results?

 

 

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