Saturday, April 9, 2011

Make Writing a Habit

If you have a writing habit, you’ve got a great foundation as a writer.

If you struggle to find the time to write, keep putting it off, or can’t seem to write when planned, you need a writing habit.

Forming a habit, at least a good one, isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes time and persistence to create a new habit. But as anyone with a bad habit knows, once you have the habit it’s hard to break it.

How long does it take to form a habit? Some say a week, 21 days, 28 days. Go with 30 days. By the end of a month, the habit should be fixed.

How do you create a habit?

• Focus – Do not try to create more than one habit at once. Focus will keep you on track and moving forward.

• A trigger – Every habit has a trigger. A smoker smokes when they wake up, after meals, during times of stress. Find a trigger to set off you habit.

• Same time every day – To form a habit, this is very important. If you are lenient with this, you may find it easier to skip a day or two. You ran out of time. This is more important. Excuses are made. But if you have a certain time set up, writing will be the Focus, and the Trigger will set it off.

• Start small – Begin with thirty minutes a day. This can be increased over the thirty days, but start out small. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself.

• No exceptions – Don’t make excuses to skip one day here, two days there. If you do skip two days in a role, start over. If the house blows up, sure skip a day, but get right back on it the next.

• A log – After each day’s writing, note the amount of words you cranked out. (This is optional, as some will see this as a second goal, but it seems to me to be part of the goal and can provide motivation as you see the numbers rise.

• Don’t edit – Writing is the habit you are shooting for. Focus on the writing. (Some writers edit as they go. If this is the case, you are the exception to the rule.) If you are a new writer, Focus on the writing. You can create the habit of editing next month.

What counts as writing? Anything can, but you will have to decide what’s important. I write every day, blog posts, emails, various articles, but procrastinate when it comes to my novel or short stories. So, the habit I have to create is fiction writing. Determine your goals. If you want to write a novel, your Focus should be on the novel. For thirty minutes a day, for thirty days, write your novel. By the end of the month, you’ll have a short novella, or the bulk of a novel written, depending on your writing speed.

And remember, with practice, you will be writing more on day thirty than you did on day one. In thirty days, you will be an active writer.

Let’s go form a writing habit. Good luck!


Najela said...

Thanks. I needed this so much. I'm going to try it with my most recent WiP. Such a timely post.

Anonymous said...

Najela, Glad the post helped. This is all easier said than done, and takes a lot of persistence. Good luck and best wishes.

Terry W. Ervin II said...

I guess I don't have a writing habit, in that I cannot set aside a particular time of day to write. I'd like to and having one--I can certainly see where it would help things along at times.

I fit it in when I can--but I make it a priority so that it's not bumped to the bottom and never done. But for me, family and regular job/career responsiblities come first.

Anonymous said...

Terry, Thanks for commenting. What you have can be considered a habit. I don't believe you are a procrastinator. Your habit is to write when time is available and you do it. Which obviously works for you, which is great!

I'm hoping that with a formed habit, I can adapt to writing any time. It will be a habit to just stop and write.

E.D. said...

Great advice! I used to be able to write "same time every day" but when life throws a wrench into your engine you need to improvise - thus, I write every night, whether that's at 9:30 pm or at 1:30 am. It works!

Charmaine Clancy said...

Thanks for this post. I'm trying to build my writing habit by joining in on challenges like 'Monday morning sprints' etc. Could be a lot better though.
Wagging Tales - Blog for Writers

The Whispering Path Tarot Blog said...

I am not a writer but I love to read. So to all the writers out there...........hats off to you. :)

Anonymous said...

E.D. Totally understand. A writer has to work around life, or at least most of us.

Charmaine, we all have to start somewhere.

Whispering Path, Thanks for stopping by.

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