Monday, February 22, 2016

5 Tips to Setting a Good Writing Habit

This past weekend I attended a workshop on setting habits, specifically how to set new writing habits.  Since I always seem to find ways to stray away from what I need to do when writing, listening to someone else’s ideas is always a good way to pull myself back into the chair and get busy.

Let’s face it – these days the computer can be our downfall even as it has made writing so much easier.  I recall sitting down with my manual typewriter – yes, an actual manual typewriter – and  working until my wrists grew tired. Then I rented an electric (Selectric) and before long that was my favorite. As soon as I could afford one, I bought it.  That lasted until I got my first computer.  And my first computer game.  Writing changed forever. Those games sucked away so much time. Later I got the internet and even more time was consumed.  I still spent every day at my desk, just not writing as much.

So now I find I need to return to the old things that worked.

1.       Write first thing in the morning.  This was one of the ideas we discussed at our habit session. If you make a habit of getting up and getting busy at your computer with writing for at least half an hour or an hour before you allow yourself to get online, you will get some work done.

2.      Use a timer.  If you are so anxious to get to that online news, or latest game, or facebook page, then set a timer. Try writing for half an hour with a clock ticking away. That can ease the anxiety, but also help you rack up some pages in the meantime.

3.      Don’t use a computer to write. Try writing in a notebook.  Our speaker, Harlequin author, Rogenna Brewer, told us some writers have returned to their old Alpha Smarts as a writing method. That way you are working directly into a writing program, but you don’t have the temptation of an internet icon tempting you.  She also mentioned that some people still use notebooks to write. Sometimes that can work.

4.      Get out of the office. Sometimes you get so used to writing in the same place that you still can’t break the bad habit of getting online. You stop to get coffee and the internet is sitting there tempting you. Take your laptop and go to a library or coffee shop.

5.      Do one of these things until regular writing becomes a habit again.  Check how much you want to write every day to get a full story written and then set that mark as your daily goal. Then start following whichever pattern works best for until your writing habits are set. No matter whether you write by the seat of your pants or with a carefully constructed outline, the key is to keep writing with whatever method works best for you.

She noted that many of us are working on several things as we write a book – besides the writing. We are also working on editing another book perhaps, while promoting a third. But take the time to set a good habit for writing the next one. That can not only keep you going, but can help you set up your career for the future.



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