Building the Writing Habit

image by vassiliki koutsothanasi Tchaikovsky and Somerset Maugham are credited with saying “I write when inspiration strikes. Fortunately, it strikes every morning at 9:00 when I sit down at my desk.”

There’s an excellent book by Dr. Richard Wiseman, The As If Principle. Research shows that when we behave as if we believe something, we begin to believe it. When we behave as if we have a quality, we develop it.

Set a schedule you can keep, and keep it. It’s the single strongest way to build the writing habit.

Now, what most people do is go off and plan to write 3 hours a day, 7 days a week. That lasts about 4 minutes.

Do this: choose 2 days on which you can absolutely positively commit to writing for 5 minutes. Stick to that schedule faithfully for a month.

Then, add another day or two. When that’s habit, add more time. Build. Reinforce.

If 5 minutes of writing won’t work because you’re not sure what to write about, try this: set a timer for 5 minutes, and just sit, ready to write. No Facebooking or Tweeting or email or TV or chit chat with the family. You are there to be ready to write. If you don’t write, it’s okay, but you’re not allowed to do anything else, either.

Another approach: mindset. Remind yourself why you want to be a writer. Write that down and hang it where you can see it. Every day, read it out loud to yourself. If you forget why you’re doing this, you won’t write.

I’ve found that the only way I write consistently is to get up, make my tea, and write, before I do anything else. No reading, no email, no chatting with the wife. As Robert Olen Butler says, come straight from where you dream to writing.

2 thoughts on “Building the Writing Habit

  1. This is good advice. I find that I spent too much time reading e-mails, and little time, on my novellas. I need to prioritize my time. What is more important, e-mails, or novellas? Thanks you for opening my eyes. Blessings.

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