How To Make Your Writing Habits Work For You

Earnest HemingwayAs a writer it’s important to be true to yourself, both in what you write and how you write it. The most successful writing habits you can have are the ones that complement your natural proclivities in a productive manner. Just like exercising, writing requires you to establish routines that you want to engage in.

Last week I talked about the different types of writers. Lets take this one step further and consider how you can turn your personal style into a successful writing habit.

  1. Identify your style. Are you a Marathoner? A Waiter?
  2. Outline your writing goals. Do you want to write a book? Start a blog? Sell articles for cash?
  3. Calculate your resources. How much time do you have to commit to your writing goals? Do you need a certain environment to be productive?

Common Writing Pitfalls

The best piece of advice I can offer is this: set yourself reasonable goals. This is true no matter what style of writer you are.

If you want to write every day start with a modest word goal—I would suggest 500 words per day if you don’t write regularly already—and as you continue to meet that goal, start to raise it to the level that works best for you.

If you are driven to finish a project once you’ve started and ID with the Marathoner style of writing, don’t forget to eat something. Sleep. Walk around or do a sun salutation once an hour to keep the blood flowing. The last thing you want to do is burn yourself out before you can finish your writing project. Don’t forget, your brain runs on calories and your body needs good circulation to keep the creative juices flowing.

If you’ve ever told someone—or yourself—that you have to “wait for the mood to strike,” try challenging yourself. Start with short freewriting sessions, with or without your muse. Set a short timer and start writing, don’t let your fingers stop until the time is up.

If you work better with a clear deadline and would like to make some money with your work, consider freelance writing. There are many places online that post writing jobs—Yahoo’s Contributor Network and Elance.com are two good sources. If you are more interested in creative writing consider a writing challenge with a deadline and a support community, such as National Novel Writing Month.

Be Flexible

But what if you already know your own writing style and have an established writing routine, and it’s still not working for you? Routines are good but sometimes they can make you feel like you’re stuck in a rut.

Take a day and try out a new style. Take a day off, don’t write anything and read a book. Spend a week making short writing goals—even if they’re just 100 words per day—and challenge yourself to reach them.

In other words, shake things up! Try working on a non-writing project and give your brain a break. Just be careful that you don’t take a single day off and wake up four months later having not written a single word in the interim.

I think most successful writers will agree that the act of writing is a balancing act. Every author is going to have a different sweet spot. As a newish writer, it’s easy to be overambitious, but setting yourself smaller, achievable goals can help build your confidence as well as your “writing muscles.”

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