Developing a writing habit essentially just involves making a commitment to writing. It doesn’t have to be a big one: writing a sentence or two a day or a few pages a week is a writing habit.
Writing can be an incredibly difficult hobby to get into and stay into. That’s not because you have to have a special ‘something’ to be a writer: anyone can write (yes, even you) and it’s something that really does need to be practiced. The problem lies in finding time to write and giving yourself permission to do it. The most common piece of advice I received while I was doing my degrees in writing was ‘develop a writing habit’ and it’s something I firmly believe in.
Developing a writing habit essentially just involves making a commitment to writing. It doesn’t have to be a big one: writing a sentence or two a day or a few pages a week is a writing habit. It’s the regularity that matters. Even if you’re only chipping away at what you want to write, you’re still making progress. Eventually, you’ll arrive at where you want to go. It’s a useful way to get over your fear of getting started or of the size of your idea. If you’re doing it in small, manageable chunks, then you’ll make stepping stones for yourself. You don’t need to churn out perfect scenes that slowly grow into a fully-fledged story either, you just need to write what comes into your head. You can string it all together later (or not). Even if you never use a lot of what you write, it will still help you hone your skills and get a sense for what works.
Be adventurous while starting out too: a lot of people have certain places, times or even ways of doing it that get them better results. You won’t discover what these are for you unless you experiment. The idea of a writer shutting themselves away for hours to focus completely on what they’re working on still holds true for some people but for others, slotting it into tiny gaps in their schedule actually gets results. You might find that your morning commute is a great time to knock out a few scenes or even a poem. You don’t need to have ‘time to write’, you just need to fit writing into the time that you do have.
There are practical steps you can take. I find that a weekly goal is kinder than a daily one: it means you can afford to have days where writing just doesn’t go well or even happen at all. If you’re a visual learner, you can also use an app or a website to track your writing as you might a fitness goal. For those of you who are more challenge minded, Camp NaNoWriMo is coming up in July. This is an offshoot of National Novel Writing Month that lets you set your own goal in words, pages or hours. Plenty of other challenges exist to help you push yourself and make writing a part of your every day.
My advice though is to always be kind: don’t make your goals too ambitious or you’ll spend far too long beating yourself up for falling short. Writing should always be fun. If it isn’t fun, then switch to a different idea or give yourself a break. If you can look back at a week and tell yourself that you made time for writing, even if there aren’t that many words on the page to show for it, then you’ve still succeeded. Allow yourself the luxury of thinking creatively and sooner or later, it will pay off.
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