Writing Habits

by Melissa Borg
March 4, 2020

How can you work a day job and keep pursuing writing with all of life running at you? I'm having to remind myself how to do this, so here are the reminders I keep repeating.

Don't Buy into the Lie: More Free Time = More Words Completed.

If you can't find a few minutes in your day or week to dedicate to writing, then having lots of time won't fix your lack of drive to write. Be honest with yourself about if you really want to write a novel or not. To complete even a single draft takes dedication and is a solitary pursuit.

Get Scheduled.

Do you know how long on average it takes you to write 1,000 words? If so, you are ahead of those who only say they want to be a writer and are on your way to being a writer.

Once you know your average writing ability, set goals and track them. Every day. Get an app, carry a notebook, or send yourself an email to document your progress.

My current favorite app to track my writing progress is Writeometer.

Write Every Day.

Deceptively simple idea, which we've all heard thousands of times. As pointed out in the book Art & Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland, the more time you put into different pieces of work the better your quality will become. The story goes like this:

A ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the "quantity" group: fifty pound of pots rated an "A", forty pounds a "B", and so on. Those being graded on "quality", however, needed to produce only one pot - albeit a perfect one - to get an "A".

Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the "quantity" group was busily churning out piles of work - and learning from their mistakes - the "quality" group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.

Plus the focus of producing words on the page every day takes the onus off you needing to be "perfect" with your writing. I have learned that if you want to write then you better embrace revision.

When I say write every day, I don't mean necessarily mean your novel. For me, I have the best focus to write my manuscripts in spring and fall. In the winter and summer periods, I tend to focus on blog ideas, background stories, and story structure activities.

While I am still struggling to get back into the habit of writing every day, I think I'm ready to dive in and get words on the page and blog posts drafted for future use.

What are the habits that help you keep moving forward and being creative?

Keep on writing,


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