As a writer, you write, and when you’ve cultivated a habit of writing, you’re not doing something you have to force yourself to do, but rather something you are passionate about and enjoy.
A writing habit is when you are writing regularly to help you produce content on a consistent basis and is not the same as “writing every day”. It’s a settled or regular tendency or practice, and one that is hard to give up. It’s what real writers do.
Forming a daily writing habit isn’t easy. It forces you to give up your misconceptions about writing and embrace the truth. It takes work and is not that difficult once you have mastered the art of writing, once you have disciplined the craft of writing, fully understand the process of writing and understand that you serve and own the story you write.
So how do you get up every day and write? It’s a question that plagues writers who struggle to stay motivated in their creative lives. We know we have something to say. We’re just not sure how to say it.
The only way to beat the fear of writing is by forming a habit of writing every day. If you do it so regularly that you don’t even have to think about it, you will get serious about your craft and have no fear.
Just as you habitually visit your favourite restaurant to savour their dishes, so will you get into the habit of wanting to write, and spend as much time as possible developing your craft of writing great stories.
Small changes in habits can lead to remarkable results. What looks like failure, in the beginning, is often the foundation of success. You have to grind out the hard work before you can enjoy your best work.
Jodi Picoult: “You can’t edit a blank page.”
Know what you are good at writing and write it better
If you are passionate about something, use it to get into the habit of writing, it’s that easy.
As a writer, I am passionate about film, and as a film journalist of 40 years, I have created my own website to explore my dream to its fullest by creating a platform that celebrates the craft of writing and the art of storytelling. With more than 200 features to write each year on films being released and streamed (excluding exclusive interviews with filmmakers and writers), I am in the daily habit of writing what I am passionate about, pursuing each feature with fervour.
Each feature allows me to take a journey into the stories other writers write and discover their journey, feeding into my habit of writing screenplays and novels, which in turn, feeds into my passion as a story editor.
Create a website/blog about what you are passionate about, and it will foster your habit of writing on a regular basis to share your writing with your readers/followers.
Maya Angelou: “Easy reading is damn hard writing.”
If you doubt your story, dump it
Whatever you are writing, if it doesn’t work for you and you have lost interest in your story, let it go.
The chances are that if you are writing something you were excited about initially but that has lost its spark, it won’t work for those you hope would be interested in reading it.
Get into the habit of writing what excites you, something you are willing to get up for early in the morning or write through the night, and even spend years perfecting, something that makes your heart beat faster and makes you feel good about being a writer and feeds your confidence with a resounding ‘Yes’.
Be inspired, constantly, find inspiration within yourself.
Don’t over plan
Overplanning is a killer and can prevent you from getting into the habit of writing every day.
Having been a disciplined over-planner for 22 years, planning every feature, every story, every possibility of a story, every new idea that pops up, one of my first resolutions for 2022 wat to not use a diary.
‘Am I crazy,’ I thought at first but once I took action and started using a notebook to start each day on a blank page, my life changed drastically as I got into the habit of writing what’s important, what I want to write and not what I have to write.
How does this work? Easy, when you wake up in the morning and have gone through your morning routine, open your notebook and make a list of what you need to write.
Beware of falling into the habit of wanting to plan ahead, only focus on what’s important that day.
The surprising result is that the list grows shorter and by midday, you will have all the time in the world to work on what’s important. It will also allow you time to reply methodically to emails that land in your mailbox.
Your daily awakening can include anything that supports your writing if you feel like exercising or exploring, or whatever you need to do to foster inspiration that will fuel your passion, make it a a daily goal. This goal could be the same the following day, but chances are that there will be a new goal waiting to surpise you.
Don’t think about how many words or pages to write, simply write what you feel you are capable of, and build on that each new day. You will soon discover that it’s not impossible to finish a chapter a day, but don’t let it spill over into the next chapter, leave that for another day. You will soon find that if you are in the habit of writing, your story will call you and speak to you, listen, and write.
E.B. White: “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work
will die without putting a word on paper.”
Set up a sacred writing space
It’s easier to stick to your daily writing habit when you want to spend time in a place where you are comfortable writing.
You don’t have to have a beautiful view and an expensive desk. Privacy and intention are more important than the quality of your surroundings. Keep your inspiration, books, and research materials close at hand. Habituating yourself with a ritual time and place makes it easier to get into the zone when you start writing each day, and, while you’re there, will make it easier to stay inspired and fresh.
I swapped my laptop for a desktop to create a fixed space for writing, I also have other spaces in the garden and patio where I can write by hand, and it’s easy to take a notebook and pencil into the mountains when hiking.
Switch Off Your Mobile
Get into the habit of paying all your attention to your writing when you are in writing mode, let NOTHING interfere or disrupt your thoughts or the flow of your writing.
As a writer you serve your story, that’s all that matters. You are unavailable to the outside world. Let those who need to get in contact with you know that you are unavailable and that they can send you an email, or leave a message.
Get into the Habit of Inhabiting Your Story NOW
You are here and now, while your mind is in the future. You can always cope with a present moment, but you cannot cope with something that is only a mind projection. Time isn’t precious at all because it is an illusion. The more you are focused on time, past and future, the more you miss the now, the most precious thing there is. Nothing exists outside the now. Nothing ever happened in the past, it happened in the now, nothing will ever happen in the future, it will happen in the now.
The past is a memory trace, stored in the mind of the former now. The future is an imagined now.
Flowers are not anxious about tomorrow but live with ease in the timeless now.
Eckhart Tolle – The Power of Now
The Write Trainer – One-on-one coaching sessions
In an age where everyone makes regular trips to their local gym to stay healthy, it is important for writers to keep writing effectively and remain in a perfect state of creative health; where ideas flow freely and projects are completed. The Writing Studio’s mentoring entails informal communication, face-to-face, one-on-one coaching at our writer’s retreat in the heart of the Karoo. with qualified Education and Training practitioner Daniel Dercksen.