How To Build A Writing Habit The Easy Way

typing

So you want to start writing regularly? Or you want to increase your current productivity and write more every week/month/year… I’m going to reveal the secret in this post. Or, more accurately, I’ve already revealed the secret by using the word ‘habit’.

Yep, that’s right – you’ve got to make writing a habit so that it happens almost automatically.

Then you can sit back and watch your word counts rise. Okay, maybe not just ‘sit back’, but you will be amazed at how much you get done with what feels like very little effort.

Think about the stuff that you do every single day; watching television while you eat your breakfast, brushing your teeth, clearing the dishes after dinner, putting on your shoes before leaving the house… You don’t have to think about these tasks and you never (or hardly ever) miss them out. However ingrained and natural these behaviours feel, you weren’t born doing them. Somewhere along the way, you developed the habit and now they are a part of your life.

You might be thinking that brushing your teeth doesn’t take very long and writing a novel does, but you are going to build your writing habit by starting small.

Even tiny actions, repeated regularly over time, can make a big impact.

Plus, once you establish a habit it’s easier to tweak it (to, say, increase the amount of time you spend writing).

ID-100323590It’s this last principle we’re going to use to get started. Think of an existing habit you have and adjust it. For example, when you brush your teeth, use that time to think about your writing. If you don’t have a story in mind, use the time to brainstorm ideas. If you’re completely stuck, just use the time to reflect on your new creative habit. The focus should be on positivity; you are giving yourself permission to day dream, not trying to accomplish anything concrete or scary.

After a week or so, you are going to add a new habit and this one will actually involve writing. Pick a clearly-defined task that is easy to complete, and pick a time that is both easy to remember and suits your current schedule. The aim is to minimise every possible block to achieving the task and, once you’ve done it, to reward yourself. I like to use stickers for this, but it’s your choice!

For example, you might decide to write for ten minutes every day (or every week day). That’s a small, clearly-defined task.

You might choose to add it to your evening routine, say after dinner (before you get up to wash the dishes) or first thing in the morning before you get out of bed.

Next, you prepare for success. If your writing session is scheduled for first thing in the morning, put your notebook and pen (or laptop) next to your bed the night before.

Repeat the habit for a few weeks until it feels very natural and easy. If you miss a session, don’t beat yourself up about it, just do the next one.

One final note: Even if you’re finding your goal very easy to manage, don’t be tempted to increase or change it too quickly. If you raise the bar too fast, you’re more likely to miss sessions and get discouraged. Allow yourself to ‘win’ at the task easily and regularly and you’ll soon have an instinctual writing habit in place.

What do you think? Do you already have a regular writing habit and, if not, will you try this approach? I really hope it helps!

 

[Toothpaste image credit: by aitbodyphoto courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net]

Read More

Episode #07 The Worried Writer: Clodagh Murphy ‘There’s a reason I write fiction…’


ww_episode7_clodagh


In this episode I talk to author of romantic comedy, Clodagh Murphy, about her writing process, journey to publication and struggles with self-doubt.

Clodagh Murphy has published several romantic comedies including Girl In A Spin, Frisky Business, and Some Girls Do. The Irish Independent called Clodagh ‘An exceptionally talented (and hilarious) Irish writer’.


Find out more about Clodagh’s work at www.clodaghmurphy.com or follow her on Twitter @ClodaghMMurphy

 

Recommended by Clodagh:


The 7 Habits of the Prolific by Hillary Rettig. (Clodagh and I both love this book!).

Freedom software for internet-free work time

Alphasmart – another great way to avoid the internet while writing. Plus, it only lets you see a couple of lines of text at a time which helps you to just plough ahead and not get derailed by reading back over your work.

 

 

Also recommended:

Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert’s podcast

The Joined Up Writing podcast. Wayne and Leah were kind enough to recommend The Worried Writer and to invite me onto their show as a guest. Check out my interview here: Banish Self Doubt – interview with Sarah Painter – Joined Up Writing #30.

 

I reveal the title of my next book – podcast exclusive! – and give a writing update.

Also, I answer a listener question from @Maxi_Scribbler on Twitter:

Any chance of a chat on the podcast about finding an agent whether before publication or after and how you found yours?

Thanks so much for the question, Maxi!

If you have a writing (or publishing) question that you’d like me to tackle in a future episode, please get in touch via email or Twitter.

I’ll answer it on the show and credit you (unless, of course, you ask to remain anonymous).

Please spread the word and, if you can spare the time, leave a rating for the show on iTunes. I truly appreciate your support.

Thank you for listening!

 

 

Read More