Writing is a special gift. But why do so many writers struggle to actually find time to put words on the page? Well, it might be because they haven’t developed a writing habit.
Life can be extremely busy. Between full-time and part-time jobs, children, social commitments, or other day-to-day things, finding the time to sit down and let your creativity flow can be incredibly difficult for some people. And there’s nothing wrong with that; taking care of your children is obviously more important than writing. But if you find yourself really wanting to develop a writing habit, and are struggling to figure out how, here are eight tips that might help you out!
(Keep in mind: You don’t have to follow all of these tips. But implementing just one or two of them into your daily schedule might just improve your writing life!)
#1: Write at the Same Time Everyday
Whether it means getting up an hour before everyone else, or waiting until everyone else goes to bed, find a time that works for you. Find a slot in your day – morning, afternoon, evening – that will have no interruptions and no distractions.
Writing at the same time every day will not only train your mind that that time slot is the time to write, but also let your family and friends know that time is when you’re busy. Commit yourself to this every time you write. You don’t have to write every day to be a writer – but you have to be consistent.
#2: Use Triggers
Maybe it’s your favorite cup of coffee or tea in the morning. Or maybe the scent of your favorite candle or incense. Whatever it is, use it to your advantage. Before you sit down to write, implement this trigger into your writing schedule.
If you get up in the morning, make a cup of coffee the first thing before you write. The smell of the coffee, and the act of getting it, will tell you brain it’s time to write. Over time, these triggers will help get you in the mood for a writing session.
Whatever it is – coffee, tea, a scent, maybe meditating an hour beforehand – use whatever trigger will work best for you. It’s important to get yourself excited to sit down and write, and be in the right headspace.
#3: Eliminate Distractions
Turn off the TV. Keep your phone in the other room. Disconnect from the internet. Whatever you have to do to keep yourself distraction free, do it. If you sit down to write during your allotted writing time, but find yourself checking your phone, or browsing the internet, it’s time to eliminate any distractions.
Distractions will only keep you from getting your writing done. Your writing time has to be for you. The internet can wait. The TV can wait. They’re not going anywhere.
#4: Organize Your Writing Space
Wherever you write – at a desk, the kitchen table, the couch in the living room – make sure it’s clean and organized. Having a clean space free of distractions will keep your mind clear. Not only that, it will prevent you from wanting to get up and organize the space instead of write.
Your space should be clean and organized, but also allow you access to everything you need – a pen, notebook, etc. – so you don’t have to get up and go search for it. Keep your writing space creative. Fill it with motivational quotes or posters. Hang up posters from your favorite TV shows or movies. It’s important to keep your space neat, but to also make it a safe haven where you can sit, uninterrupted, and let your ideas flow.
#5: Set Small Goals First
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to aim high for bigger goals. But if you’re trying to develop your own writing a habit, shooting big might not always be the best.
It’s best to start small and pace yourself.
Start with a small word count or time frame. For example, tell yourself you’re going to write five-hundred words for the day. Or you’re going to write for twenty minutes straight with no distractions. Whatever it is, push yourself to meet these goals.
Once you’ve managed to meet these goals for a few days, or maybe a week straight, begin to raise them. Instead of writing five-hundred words, bump up your count to seven-hundred. Increase your time from twenty minutes to thirty. Gradually, you will begin to meet higher word count goals without burning yourself out.
The important thing to remember is to take it in strides. Writing is like a muscle, and you need to train it appropriately. An athlete wouldn’t push themselves to run a marathon when they’ve never run one before, or even trained for it, would they?
Writing might be a different kind of “sport”, but you need to train yourself all the same.
#6: Make Writing a Priority
If there’s one tip you should follow out of everything else, this should be number one.
To put words on the page, to make this a habit, to find any success as a writer, you have to make writing a priority. There will be times when you need to turn things down in order to write. There will be times when you just have to say “no”.
For example, let’s say Friday nights are the only free time you have to write. But every Friday night you go out with friends and get drinks the entire evening. Are you making writing a priority here? No.
There may be times when you have to put writing above all else. This doesn’t mean neglect your health, your children, your spouse, or your loved ones – but it may mean sacrificing fun social activities, or missing the newest episode of a show you love, because you’ve made writing a priority instead.
Don’t burn yourself out, however. Remember to take a step back and have fun. Remember to take care of yourself. But don’t constantly put writing to the side in pursuit of something else, because if you do, you may never find the time to write.
#7: Set Boundaries
Once you’ve decided to make writing a priority, you will have to set boundaries. This means being able to say “no” to friends, family, and loved ones. This means telling people that this time slot you have – maybe an hour on your lunch break at work – is now writing time, not time for socializing.
Your friends and family may be frustrated by this. But it’s important to set those boundaries with them. Your writing time and space needs to be respected.
Writing is like work. Your family wouldn’t just barge into your workplace, would they?
#8: Be Accountable and Consistent
If you’re trying to build a writing habit, keep yourself accountable. Make sure you’re following your goals and the schedule you’ve set yourself. If you need to, find an accountability partner who will cheer you on and motivate you to keep going.
If you don’t hold yourself accountable, it’s easier to slip up and lose consistency. The more you lose consistency, the harder it will be to form a writing habit.
#9: Reward Yourself
Maybe there’s a movie coming out that you’ve been waiting to see, or a book you’ve been eyeing on the shelf. Whatever it is, use it as a motivator to keep yourself going. For every five-thousand words you write, you can treat yourself to a fancy Starbucks drink, or a sweet treat. When you write ten-thousand words, treat yourself to a fancy dinner. You get the gist.
Keep a reward in the back of your mind. Something you can finally give into buying or doing. Writing should be fun, too. There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself when you hit a milestone.
No matter what tips and tricks you decide to implement here, the important thing to remember is that you need consistency to form a new habit. Research shows that it can take sixty-six days to form a habit. Writing is like everything else – you need to train yourself to sit down, show up, and do the work.
“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”
— Louis L’Amour
XOXO – Devon