Tuesday, April 9, 2019

7 Steps to a Writing Daily Habit

Building a Daily Writing Habit

I think writing every day is a very tricky situation. While it may seem easy to maintain, especially if you are prolific-slanted, there are a number of barriers.
  • ·        Coming up with something to write every day.
  • ·        Having to edit what you write every day.
  • ·        Finding time to write ever day.
  • ·        Being worried you don’t have anything relevant to share.

This is the short list of barriers. Any one of these can completely derail your progress towards a daily writing goal. However, there are number of steps you can take to make the writing daily goal more tangible. Like anything, these are small steps towards a much longer path, and the path is different for everyone. Some writers will recommend ideas surrounding daily habit creation. They argue that if it works for one thing it can work for others. My goal here is to offer advice that is specific to the writing daily habit, not to other habits. That being said, I may dive into other habit creation as a method of explaining each section. Here are the seven tips I can think of that can help build a daily writing habit. Are these all the tips there are in the world? No, but I think this I a wonderful start towards that effort.

Step 1: Writers write

This is a two-word phrase that also has a double meaning. The first meaning is that the act of being a writer is simple. If you write things, you can automatically call yourself a writer. The second meaning is that as a writer, you have to actually write. So this is both a “welcome” to a group and a “get to work”. It’s about giving yourself permission to be bad and still call yourself a writer. After all, who cares if what you write is garbage if you can edit it into gold? Or if it’s complete garbage and only teaches you how not to do it. Either way, the central tenant is that to be good at anything you need to practice it. While I don’t think 10,000 hours to expertise applies to writers, I would say that 1,000,000 words does. If you can create over a million words in a variety of story combinations, that will help you tremendously towards being an expert writer. That may take a half a year or a decade to reach, but by typing one word at a time, you will get there.

Step 2: Imagine with eyes open 

Normally writing advice would tell you the steps to build a habit at this point. Instead, I think it’s important to determine what you want writing to be to you. If you want to write simply because of the money, then think about how you want that job to look. If you want to write to keep people entertained in their cars during their commutes, think about how best to produce audio books. If you want to write to show lessons, think about how to border conflict with reliability. Finally, if you want to write simply to please yourself, think about why writing pleases yourself. Once you’ve got a good vision of the “why” behind writing, you can start to experiment in that direction. That’s the part of “with eyes wide open”. Having a deeper purpose behind your material also helps build motivation, which will be absolutely necessary for a daily writing habit.

Step 3: Decrease excuses

Part of why writing every day is so hard is because there isn’t a normal space for it. Just like when you cram in round peg to square hole, things just don’t fit naturally. However, if you cut the corners of the square hole, then fitting in the round peg is much easier. The same is true for every habit you wish to learn. For example, if you expect to write fantastic material every time, you are going to be upset when the muse isn’t sitting next to you. Sometimes you just need permission to write junk. Another excuse is that you don’t know what to write. This can be alleviated with writing prompts and flash fiction. Or it can be alleviated with building a writer’s blog where you can post your thoughts. Finally, the longer your day goes on, the more things get added to your “to-do” list. In addition, you wear out more throughout the day, so motivation may go down. It is a lot easier to write in the morning and be done with the work. Then, the rest of the day, no matter what happens, you finished building on your daily writing habit.

Step 4: Know when to end

Part of building a daily habit is know how much you need to do. If you want to write a specific amount, then make that part of your daily habit. Knowing when you can end writing is just as important as knowing how you are going to start your writing. That can also give you a push if your nearly the goal and simply need to get one or two more paragraphs done.

Step 5: Rain Dancing the Word Count

There are certain cultures where they believe that dancing can cause the rain to fall. This ritual of dancing followed by result, was enough to make them believe in this truth. That same idea can be used to trick your brain. By figuring out a particular spot to write, what to drink when you write, what you listen to when writing, etc, you can build fake momentum. In other words, you can trick your brain into thinking “okay, now it’s time to write” by surrounding your daily writing habit with little rituals. While these rituals may not help you build any word count, they can put you in the mood to write.

Step 6: Don’t pull a “just got my gym membership” mistake

A lot of people want to get in better shape. This is especially true when the year starts. They know that they’ve been really relaxed in their fitness and with a new year starting, they are ready to make a change. These people build a chart to track which days are for which muscles. They build a diet plan and make sure they have all the workout gear needed. They go and buy new clothes. Finally, they compare gyms and sign up for the best one. The first week of exercise comes and they go hard starting on Day 1. They are sore and have had an excellent workout. The next day, they try to replicate this with a new muscle group, wondering if this is going to be their new normal. After all, how long until they are considered regulars? Day 3 comes and they give themselves a bit of a break. Everyone needs a rest day after all, right? You don’t want to over-do it, right? Day 4 happens and they try again, but start to get bored and make it a short trip. Day 5 something comes up in their life so they skip their calendar. Day 6 happens and they try to get by with the least amount of energy people. From Day 7 forward, life becomes busy and they are never spotted in the gym again. The gym is happy, because they keep their membership for a few more months, which subsidizes the expensive equipment. So how exactly does this apply to writing? People can look at a daily writing habit the same way they look at a gym visit. They work out too hard at first and put in to much energy. While they believe the focus is “getting fit” they really should have been focused on fun. The same is true for writing. If you are just going for word count, without taking into account what makes writing fun, you are more likely to give up. If you make writing a relaxing thing, then you are more likely to indulge in it.

Step 7: Celebrate through inspiration

I think a lot of writing is building a unique value. That can mean a wild fiction world where anything is possible. It can also mean an article that doesn’t have a clear search engine “winner”. Finding a need and filling the need is at the soul of every entrepreneur endeavor. However, after that need is filled, I think it’s a good idea to celebrate. This can be done with a sweet treat, printing something off in a 3D printer, or simply looking for potential inspiration for the next chapter. Either way, taking a moment to reflect on your writing is important. It helps frame the writing as valuable, even if that’s not fully true. Many people live not on what they produce, but on what they can produce. That means that building a solid writing habit, and learning the techniques of writing, can make you more valuable than a single great book. After all, being able to build many fun books is often more important than building one extremely painful book that you never want to do again.


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