Not that you need to be told this but no, you don't need to write every day.

Someone published a "writing advice" article about how you need to write every day otherwise you are a fail or whatever.  "Write every day" is one of those perennial things which appears in writing advice nuggets.  I don't believe in that piece of advice, and not just because that method doesn't work for me.

I used to feel guilty about not writing every day, or having long stints of time where I am not writing and am instead binge watching Friday Night Lights on Netflix (which I've already seen) or engaging in my endless search for a lobster necklace on Etsy.  Then I did the math on my productivity.  It takes me about 6 months to write a novel.  Just the draft.  Which I then put away, then rewrite however many times.  But the actual bulk of the work takes 6 months, which is a decently fast clip.  I'm new to novel writing--most of my writing life has been spent as a short story writer.  I tended to think about stories a lot before I ever sitdown to write them, so when I did finally sit down, they more or less come out in one long stream.  However much time I have to type that day, that is.  Similarly for novels, I work out my plot outlines and just plow through it.

Which means I have a high amount of productivity during a short burst of time, then a word desert for weeks or months.  You know what though?  My productivity is fine. 

I can't find the article, but when I was training for a long running race, I read something by a marathoner who said that his absurd finishing speeds (I don't know--anything less than 12 hours seems fast to me--but I think it was 3 hours) were not hindered, but actually helped by the fact that he took breaks to walk.  This goes against logic in some sense, how can going slower help you go faster?  Even when you're doing it during a race, you feel a pressure to start running again because people are passing you.  A guy dressed like the Statue of Liberty juggling three balls is passing you (yes this happened to me.).  Ultimately, taking walking breaks became a structured way for me to complete races in increasingly faster times. 

Similarly, I'm a weight lifter and anyone who lifts weights knows that you can't work the same group on Monday and Tuesday.  Lifting causes tiny damage to your body--you need that time to recover.  And protein in the form of mediocre-tasting powder-based drinks.  Lifting more is not lifting better if it results in your being injured, or working inefficiently.  More is not better.  Ask anyone who does interval training. 

I get the sense that "write every day" might be something that some people need to be told in order to get their butts in a chair, because otherwise, they won't write.  Well. . . if you need to be shoehorned into doing something, maybe you don't really like doing it?  Yeah writing involves some components that you don't like--maybe it's revision. Maybe it's copyediting.  But at some level, you should want to work sometimes, and you should be able to without having a rigid structure imposed on you by some arbitrary guideline.  Often people lament that they don't "have the time" to write because [insert whatever].  Jobs.  Kids.  No quiet space.  But the fact is that people with jobs, kids, and loud spaces all find a way.  They learned to write in small bits of time they did have, or when the kids were screaming. They did it because they wanted to.  And the shape of how they did it differed. 

Do what works for you.  If it's not working, stop.  "Not working" can also mean not hitting the quality goals you want because you're burning yourself out.  Things that are "not writing" are actually writing: targeted reading, reading for pleasure, going to readings, admin stuff like sending to magazines or researching agents or publishers, consuming things--which includes TV, movies, meditating, running, baking, or whatever puts you in a thoughtful mood.