Tips for Making Writing a Habit

Man is writing in a notebook on a table. The post title, Tips for Making a Writing Habit" is superimposed on the top.

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

One of the hardest things about writing is the sitting down and doing it.  Usually, once you start, it gets a little easier from there.

Building a habit of writing is one way to be more productive.  When writing becomes a natural part of your day, it makes the process that much easier.

At this point, writing has become almost like muscle memory to me.  The stories are all different, but the process is the same.  I may not feel an ounce of inspiration when I sit down at my computer, but soon I’m getting caught up in my story again.

Tips

Write at the same time and at the same place.  The writing space doesn’t really matter, as long as you’re comfortable and the set-up is somewhat ergonomic.  The idea is simply to send a message to your brain that it’s time to write.

Set up a ritual of sorts surrounding the writing, so that writing naturally comes next.  Basically, you’re setting up cues similar to the assigned writing spot above. For me, it’s getting dressed, going downstairs, letting the dog out and feeding the dog, and sitting down to write.

Have a good idea of what you’re going to write that day…either by noting where you left off the day before and what you want to accomplish next, or by thinking it over while you’re going through the motions of your pre-writing ritual.

Know what helps you be more productive. Do you write better when it’s completely silent?  If you’re fitting in writing on your lunch break then, can you get away from the office? Sit on your car?  Or, if you’re someone who needs to write with background sound, make sure to have music available.

Know when you’re most productive during the day.  If it’s first thing in the morning, do as much as you can the night before to smooth the way for your early morning writing session.  If it’s at lunch or at night, do the same way–the idea is to remove impediments to your writing.

Keep your goals simple and easily reached.  (Set S.M.A.R.T. goals.)  I’ve found it more important to have a habit than to have a tremendous daily word count.  Slow and steady wins the race.

Possible issues: The only problems I’ve had with writing habits is being flexible when my plan for the day goes unexpectedly out the window.  Now, I’ve gotten better at hitting a reset button and making sure I hit my writing goal later that day (even if it’s an unusual time for me to write).

Do you have an established writing habit?  What are some of your tips for creating a maintaining one?

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Photo via Visualhunt (Olu Eletu)

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11 thoughts on “Tips for Making Writing a Habit

  1. I like these tips, Elizabeth. I think what makes them work is that they don’t expect the writer to aim for the unreachable, so to speak. Perhaps you can’t write fabulous stuff for eight hours in a row. But you can sit down for ten/twenty minutes a day, and do characters sketches, scenes, etc.. Small steps lead to big goals.

  2. Excellent points. I don’t write at the same time by the clock because my schedule isn’t clock driven, it’s trigger driven. I don’t wake up the same time every day, and each task on my list takes a different length of time (cereal for breakfast takes less time than a big fry up, etc.) so instead of “write at 9am every day” my intent is to write after I’ve done a, b, and c but before I move on to e, f, and g. Allows for greater flexibility.

    I wrote a series of 8 articles on this based on the dozens of books on habit and Resistance I’ve read the past decade:

    http://ausoma.com/6-tools-get-writing/

  3. Hi Elizabeth – having jumped a continent and living a completely different life – getting even as far as the machine is troubling … still it’ll ease off in due course … my brain still works – so I must try talking to the machine and see how that helps … cheers Hilary

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