Cultivating the Writing Habit

Cultivating the Writing Habit

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If you don’t make writing a regular habit, you will never make it as a writer. Something else will take your break from writing as its opportunity to become more important. When you return to writing later, you’ll feel like you’re starting over.

To become a writer, you need to be a writer now. Make writing your top priority for at least part of every day. Do you say you can’t be a writer now because you have a full time job? Until you can earn a living writing, you will always need that job. Sacrifice is necessary if you want to replace that job with writing. Is your social life more important than writing? Is leisure and entertainment more important than writing? Are there 100 odd things that hold up your writing?

Do You Really Want to Be a Writer?

You should think hard about how much you want to be a writer. If you’re not going to commit to it, make it a hobby or a secondary skill. Do whatever it is that you really want to do. You can still be a competent writer at the times when you need to do some writing for work or your own amusement. On the other hand, if you want to have a writing career, you need to take it seriously.

I’m not trying to talk you out of a writing career. I’m hoping you’ll take up the challenge and become more determined than ever. I tend to be a workaholic and I’d like to become a write-aholic. The difference is that it’s easier to be a hard worker when there’s a pay check involved. With enough hard work writing could also produce a pay check. The only way to make that happen is to do it every day.

Make Writing Part of Who You Are

Once you’ve decided that you really want to write, make it part of your life. It should be as much of a given in your day as eating and sleeping. You should no more skip writing for a day than skip eating (but you may skip eating to write).

In the same way as others see a free half hour open up and spend it reading or playing video games, you should see that as an opportunity to write. Any spare moment that comes available is a moment you could be writing. Always have something to capture your writing or at least the ideas.

Plan times when you will do certain kinds of writing. Something like “I can’t wait for Saturday so I can do that revision on my book” should not be an unusual thing for you to say. And say it to others so they know your plans. Make it clear that you are not just your day job; you’re also a writer.

Create Your Writing World

Have a place in your home that’s dedicated to your writing. It’s best if it’s only for writing, but when you use a computer that’s unlikely. Shut off the wifi or unplug the network cable while you write. Get back on the net for research or when you take a deliberate break.

Once you establish your writing corner, use it every day. Just sitting down can put you in the right frame of mind for writing.

Writing Prompts

Set up something to tell you which writing projects are next and where you are on each. I use a spreadsheet of assignments with “Last Work”, “Due”, “Frequency”, and “Assignment” columns. Due dates are updated with a formula that adds the “Last Work” date to the “Frequency”.

Work In Progress

If you can work on a single writing project, keep at it until it’s done without getting blocked, and then launch right into your next writing project, more power to you. We all wish we could write like that.

Most writers get stuck now and then. When you only have one writing project, getting stuck can cause writer’s block. When you have many works in progress, there is no such thing as writer’s block. You switch to a different project. I switched to working on this article because I came to a spot in my novel where I could take the story in more than one direction. A little time away and I’ll return to continue that story.

How many writing projects should you have? You should have something started on everything you want to write about. Since that could involve dozens of books and article topics, the real question is, “How many priority writing projects do you need?”

I’ve experimented with the number of projects I need to have on the go. What works for me may not work for you, but here is what I’ve found. When I have only one project and it stalls, months can pass without any writing. When I have a dozen projects, I get a lot of writing done but it feels like I’m not getting anywhere. Big projects move slowly when you have a lot of projects.

I tried having three main projects. That seemed ideal until I noticed that only two were moving forward steadily. The answer for me is that two projects are ideal. One is a novel and the other is non-fiction articles. Long and short. Fiction and non-fiction. Opposite project types prevent writer’s block for me. This strategy can work for you too.

To summarize; write every day, write in the same location, have a writing plan, and have more than one writing project. If you do all of these things, you will be cultivating your writing habit.

Article by Ivan Izo.

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One thought on “Cultivating the Writing Habit

  1. creativityorcrazy December 24, 2013 / 11:30 am

    Good tips. I need to especially stick to picking fewer writing projects…working on it. I’ll get tired of working on one, take a break, and move to the next. I’m trying to focus on which ones have the closest deadline.


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