Creating effective writing habits can be the most elusive of skiils to master. As a writer, the most commonly heard complaint from other writers is how difficult it can be to write consistently. As a writer, the most difficult hurdle to overcome for me personally, was establishing a writing routine that worked with the other commitments in my life. Battling these commitments made development of a routine challenging at the best of times. Listed below are some the difficulties I’ve had to overcome and the methods I put into practice to do so. Also I’ve added a few tips from other writers, which helped me to that helped me to develop a routine that works.
Creating Effective Writing Habits – Challenge #1: No Consistency to Writing
Do you write a thousand words, feel fantastic about and decide you will write for the rest of your life, only to find you don’t write again for six weeks? This is the oldest and most common problem amongst all writers. The solution is also very simple. Decide what kind of writer you wish to be, a professional wordsmith -one that works to improve their skill daily, realizing the power in creating effective writing habits, or the other type. This is the type who never publishes anything anything…ever. The road to he’ll is paved with good intentions. Most of these belong to would be writers who never developed any self-discipline. Understanding that part of the writing journey is covered by simply string down and grinding it out on the days that the words come slowly, is a key element to writing success. As a writer, procrastination is the equivalent to being held under water. You can only hold your breath so long before the dream will die. Why not keep swimming instead? How do I do this, you ask? Simple.
Creating Effective Writing Habits – Solution #1:
Write every day. Contentment as a writer only comes through progression towards your goal. If there is no progress to measure then there is no contentment either. It doesn’t matter if it is ten minutes or eight hours, progress each day matters. Get your butt in the chair. Try writing at the same time each day, if your schedule allows for it. This will help establish long term writing habits. If you cannot do this, consider finding untapped productivity pockets that will allow you time to write.
Creating Effective Writing Habits – Challenge #2: The Inner Editor.
“My writing is no good. Nobody’s going to want or read this.” These thoughts will run through every writers head at some point. When they do, many budding writers will choose to allow this mindset to prevail when reviewing what they’ve written. This can have a very negative impact on the writing process. As a writer, you must remove completely from your thinking any concern for how your audience will feel about what you’ve written. Especially during the editing process. Nothing has killed more writing careers stone dead than the inner editor. The moment you begin to pander to the audience in your writing is precisely when you surrender your authentic voice. As a writer, this is the one weapon in your arsenal that you simply cannot surrender. So how do you overcome the inner editor?
Creating Effective Writing Habits – Solution #2:
Write and don’t look back.
Whether it be a thousand word article, or a 100,000 word novel, there is a time and a place for the edit process. Understanding when to edit is the key to overcoming the inner editor. Writing is process. It is called a “writer’s journey” for a reason. You are improving your skillset, much like an apprentice becomes a journeyman. Creating effective writing habits can only be developed through consistent practice. The goal in writing should not be the end product. It should be the employment of your craft over and over agin until you reach a point of excellence in execution. Understand this point will only be reached by process. There is no such thing as a writer who doesn’t write. Decide which of these two people you are – a writer, or a hack that spends all day sitting around providing excuses why they can’t write.
Creating Effective Writing Habits – Challenge #3: Am I Doing it Right?
You may have no formal training as a writer. Are you allowing this detail to hold you back? Creating effective writing habits is no different than training for any other job (save a few, where an actual professional designation is required). You can learn as you go.
Creating Effective Writing Habits – Solution #3: You Will Soon Enough.
Actually, learning as you go is likely the preferred method. Understanding your mistakes and correcting during practical application is the quickest to having the correct way stick. This will allow you to incorporate the correct format sooner. Get comfortable with the fact that you will likely use the incorrect spelling of a word from time to time. Perhaps your grammar usage is poor. Again, these can be developed over time. Start by picking up a book on basic sentence structure if you are really concerned. What really matter is that what you write is interesting enough that you hook the reader. Which brings me to the next challenge most writers face at one point or another in their writing career…
Creating Effective Writing Habits – Challenge #4: I Can’t Think of Anything to Write About.
There is always something to write about. You simply have to give yourself a context. By providing context, you’re giving your brain a confine with which to pull a topic from. While this may seem like your limiting yourself and your imagination. In a way, you are. The twist is that it is the confine that triggers your brain to be innovative. Here’s an example: Instead of writing a short story about when you were a child, consider writing a short story about your favourite elementary teacher. See how quickly your mind has detailed memories flood back? It is the specificity in a story that sets it apart from all others. How is your story the same, yet different than all others? You may not know yet, though you will by the end of the story. If you are having trouble with creating a context and coming up with writing ideas, I suggest you pick up “642 Things To Write About” put together by the San Francisco Writer’s Grotto. This book will help kickstart your writing brain.
Creating Effective Writing Habits – A List of Reference Materials
Creating Effective Writing Habits Takes hard work and perseverence. It also doesn’t hurt to offered advice from time to time from successful authors who know where you are coming from. One way or another, these authors have all faced the same battle. Understanding that while the road is lonely, it has been travelled by others of similar mind and desire, somehow makes it more manageable. Below is a list of books in my own personal collection that I suggest you pick up, as they have provided me valuable information and proof that I’m not alone in this solitary field of writing:
- “Word Hero” by Jay Heinrichs – Funny, entertaining and one of my most valued go-to writing reference books.
- “On Writing” by Stephen King – Think your journey to becoming a full-time writer is difficult? Read this book and revisit your own challenges. They’ll likely appear easier to overcome. King also offers valuable lessons that are employable to even the beginning writer.
- “100 Ways to Improve Your Writing” by Gary Provost – An older reference book, though valuable in it’s list of many examples where small changes can have big effect on writing.
- “The Kick Ass Writer” by Chuck Wendig – One of my more recent additions, though as with Heinrichs, Chuck Wendig writes in a clever, humourous style that leaves the reader wanting more. When this is the case in a reference book, you simply can’t go wrong.