Whether you’re editing your first novel or drafting a new blog post, a daily writing habit is essential.
Instead of waiting for inspiration, your writing becomes automatic, like brushing your teeth or heading to the porch for the morning newspaper. When you make writing routine, tensions ease, and pressure evaporates.
When was the last time you stressed over washing your hair or pouring the perfect bowl of cereal?
Automatic is good, and it’s liberating.
Besides, you’re gonna’ feel worse with each passing day if you don’t make adequate progress on your writing project.
So what’s holding you back?
Why can’t you seem to make this writing thing automatic, especially when you know it’s going to improve your quality of life?
You’re Not Taking Yourself or Your Writing Seriously!
I can imagine your internal dialogue right now:
How dare you? I take myself and my writing very seriously! I…
We assume that we take ourselves and our goals seriously, but when it comes to writing…?
Face it. If you’ve spent more than a couple decades on Planet Earth, you’re dragging around some heavy writing baggage. You’ve witnessed your friends and family members’ faces change when you mention your blogging adventures or your novel in progress.
I’m sure you’ve encountered the following:
- Don’t quit your day job.
- Words won’t pay the rent.
- Get ready to starve.
If you’re smart, you’ve learned to keep your writing declarations private. I know I have.
It’s perfectly normal to have mixed emotions around the subject of writing.
So what can you do?
Schedule it–the same way you schedule going to the gym for a workout or a trip to the bank to make a deposit.
Tell your spouse, family, and friends that you’re taking a class, going for a run, or picking up groceries. Lie if you must, but make one thing crystal clear:
You can’t and won’t be disturbed. This activity is important to your health, wealth, and sanity.
Tell them, in no uncertain terms, that their son, daughter, mommy, daddy, spouse, or best friend is unavailable from 8AM to 9:30AM–every, single morning.
Put on your gym clothes, and drive to a quiet remote corner of the grocery parking lot with your laptop or notebook. Find a coffee shop or a library. Set up a corner of the garage. Act as if your life depended on it.
Put in the time. No excuses.
Your second hangup is particularly hard to admit, especially if you’ve “worked” on yourself.
Still, it’s there, hiding in the shadows, pulling you back each time you try to make progress. Fear takes many forms:
- The fear of being judged
- The fear of not being “good enough”
- The fear of public or private failure
- The fear of success, of having to follow up or justify a “lucky break”
I haven’t met a single writer without similar fears. Whether you’re stringing together the first sentence of your first novel or writing seasoned prose, fear seems to be an integral part of the creative process.
The best advice I’ve ever heard:
If the fear’s particularly intense, pay attention; it means you’re probably on the right track.
Fear lets us know that we’re pushing boundaries, that we’re moving beyond our comfort zones. If we want to improve and evolve, it’s part of the game.
Decide that it’s essential, and keep writing. Don’t wait for clear skies and smooth water.
While you’re burning sage, cleaning out a corner of the garage for yourself, watch out for this other slippery mindset:
You Prefer to Keep Your “Art” on a Pedestal
This sneaky problem affects countless writers, and I’ll bet they’re none the wiser.
Preferring to fly by the seat of their pants or wait until Venus is in retrograde, they won’t schedule their writing time because writing should be “art,” and it can’t be relegated to routines, to schedules, to tedium. How offensive!
In their imaginations, the muse is a mystical creature, available only to special people, to artists/purists who’ve proven themselves worthy through proper suffering, through proper reflection, through proper criticism of every banality.In their vivid imaginations, the muse is a mystical creature, available only to special artists, to purists who’ve proven themselves worthy through proper suffering, through proper reflection, through proper criticism of every banality. Click To Tweet
I’m calling bullshit.
This mindset is toxic, and it guarantees one thing: failure.
Make room for your craft. Schedule it. Defend it.
Leave “art” to the critics. Right now, your job is putting in the time: butt-in-chair. Give yourself the space to create without judgment, without worry, without concern for some ambiguous standard.
Moving Forward With Your Writing Habit
Now that we’ve addressed a few common obstacles, let’s look at some positives.
How can you support this new writing habit? How can you keep your momentum going?
Immerse Yourself in the Craft of Writing
Read something worthy, challenging, and meaningful every day. Make a list of your favorite authors. Find a few new one’s you’d like to explore.
- Visit your local library, and borrow a few books each week for reading time.
- Check the New York Times Bestseller List, and read excerpts through Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature.
- Subscribe to the writing quote of the day at Goodreads.
- Build up a news feed of writing-related blogs.
Fill Your Mind With Positivity
Read something inspirational each morning and night.
Whether you reach for Chicken Soup for the Soul or the Tao Te Ching, keep it close. With 24/7 news feeds churning negativity, you’ll need a reliable antidote.
- Pick up a 365-day inspirational quotes calendar.
- Bookmark Huffington Post’s Good News.
- Check out the #GoodNews hashtag on Twitter for daily inspiration.
- Take the 100 Happy Days Challenge.
Surround Yourself With Like-Minded People
Seek out other writers, artists, and creatives. You’re going to need their advice and support.
Search Google for Writing Communities, Facebook Writer Groups, or online critique forums like Critique Circle, a peer-review site with an active forum and over 59K members.
And don’t forget about local writer’s groups. There’s nothing like meeting in person over lunch or a cup of coffee. Here’s a Writer’s Group Directory for the U.S. and Canada.
Construct a lifestyle that supports your passion.
So make me a promise.
You’ll have a chat with your family and friends, tonight or tomorrow.
You’ll schedule your writing time.
You’ll put fear on notice.
You’ll focus on your daily progress.
Your life’s gonna’ change. I can feel it.
Now, to you.
What’s your best advice for establishing a daily writing habit?
Leave a comment below.