Why do writers write? To educate, inspire, or share skills or expertise. Sometimes writing provides an individual with a useful source of grounding and stress release. A person may write because they cannot imagine doing anything else, or, simply, because they love to write.
More often than not, they write to express a passion for writing.
But sometimes writers write in fits and spurts. So how do they write consistently? Writers tap into their passion for writing and practice what they love. In the process, they make writing a habit.
You can do the same by regularly expressing your passion for writing.
9 Ways to Develop a Writing Habit
According to researchers at Duke University, habits account for about 40 percent of our behaviors on any given day. Understanding how to build habits will help you progress toward the ability to write consistently.
What is a habit? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it’s “an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary” or “a behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition or physiologic exposure that shows itself in regularity or increased facility of performance.”
You want a writing habit. When you have one, you will write consistently.
Try these nine habit-forming strategies:
1. Start with a small writing habit.
Make it easy, so you cannot say no to yourself. When people struggle to build a new habit, they say things like, “I need more motivation,” or, “I wish I had more willpower.”
That is the wrong approach. Research shows that willpower is like a muscle; it has to be used daily for success.
To solve this problem, begin with something easy, and record your writing goal on a calendar or in a planner every day. You may decide that 50 words or 100 words are enough. (Remember . . . tiny habits.) Commit to that goal every day. Make your goal easy enough that you can get it done without motivation. (Remember . . . Motivation arises out of action.) Be intentional.
2. Increase your habit in a very small way.
Success is a few simple disciplines practiced every day. Rather than trying to write an entire nonfiction book, start small, such as with an essay, article, or chapter. Gradually increase the amount of time or words you write. Along the way, your willpower and motivation will increase, which will make it easier to stick to your habit of writing.
One popular habit-building method is called the 21/90 Rule. Commit to writing for twenty-one straight days. After those three weeks, the pursuit of that goal should become a habit. Once you have established the habit, continue writing daily for another 90 days. Just add days to your calendar, and mark those days off with a red “X” on each day that you wrote. Don’t break the chain.
3. Break writing into chunks.
If you’ve decided to write a book, chunk the process down into manageable pieces. You could begin with an outline. Next, set the goal of writing your first chapter, and so on. Eventually, you’ll have a full-length book completed.
Or chunk down your time. Decide to write an hour each day. Some people set timers, so they don’t keep looking at a clock. Eventually, you will not need a timer.
You also can build a writing habit with small writing assignments. Keep a journal, write a blog post, or compose essays or articles—and do so on a daily or weekly schedule.
4. Be patient with yourself.
Learning to be patient is perhaps the most critical skill of all. You can make incredible progress if you are consistent and patient. Stick to a pace you can sustain. Eventually, you will have a writing habit.
5. Pay attention to your body clock.
Knowing your body and what affects your energy and alertness can help you zero in on the times of day when you perform writing tasks most effectively. What is the best time for you to write? Early morning, afternoon, evening, or late at night?
Most adults perform best in the late morning. Your body temperature starts to rise just before awakening in the morning and continues to increase through midday. Your working memory, alertness, and concentration will gradually improve in response.
6. Create a writing space.
Set up a quiet, well-lit place to write. Have your computer, writing utensils, dictionary, thesaurus, notepads, paper, and journals close at hand. Keep a notebook to record catchy words, phrases, or sentences that have captured your interest.
Keep your writing area clean! Remove any distractions.
7. Identify yourself as a writer
Tell yourself—and others—that you are a writer. Then write. Show up, and do the work to master your passion. After all, writers write.
8. Educate Yourself.
Take online publishing classes, beginning writing classes at your local community college, or blogging classes at extension programs offered by a nearby university.
You also can sign up for online or in-person programs related to your area of interest or expertise. Let your passion pick your curriculum for you.
9. Take Breaks to Avoid Burnout.
If you never take breaks during the day, go on vacation, or take time for self-care, you’ll find yourself struggling to write. And, eventually, you will experience burnout. Be sure to implement time in your schedule to fill your creative well.
My Writing Habit
If you wonder if I “do as I say,” I do!
I find getting into a positive mindset helps me focus, and the best time of day for me to begin writing is at three o’clock in the afternoon. Every day at that time I go to my office. Everything I need is close at hand, including my journal, in which early that morning I listed my thoughts and ideas for what I want to accomplish that afternoon. Pencils, paper, and of course, my computer is there waiting in anticipation for me to continue writing my journey.
I sit down, and I write.
Writing became my purpose, my passion, and eventually, an excellent habit to take me on the journey to authorship.
A writing habit begins with your effort to write consistently. Before long, it won’t be an effort. It will just be how you express your passion every day.
Have you turned your passion into a writing habit? Tell me in a comment below. (And if you found this post helpful or inspiring, please share it with your writing friends!)
About the Author
Linda L. Kane is the author of Death on the Vine, Chilled to the Bones, and an upcoming re-release of The Black Madonna. She has written several children’s books, including Clyde to the Rescue, Matty’s Adventures in Numberland, Cowboy Jack and Buddy Save Santa, Katerina Ballerina, and Witch Number is Which. She has an MA in Education, People Pupil Service certification, and worked as a school psychologist and as a learning disability specialist.
Picture courtesy of Pexels / Pixabay