Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Six Ways to Make Writing a Daily Habit

Photo by Bob Brinkmann.
Many of my readers are writers who write for a living and writers who write as a hobby. If you want to be a writer or if you want to up your writing productivity it is important to try to make writing a daily habit. Here are five ways to make writing something that comes natural each and every day.

1. Write early. Over the years, I started to get up early before everyone in the house was awake to write. Before I eat breakfast or get cleaned up, I try to meet some type of daily writing goal. It may be a blog post or some formal writing on a project. If you ask highly successful people their trick to success, many will say it is getting up early. That hour to an hour and a half of time in the early morning is my most productive time of the day.

2. Calendar in writing time. I write early, but I also know that I cannot meet all of my goals in one early morning session. Plus, I have a life. I usually go to my university office or the gym after my morning writing time and thus need to build into my calendar other writing time later in the day. I protect that time and try to ensure that I stop whatever I may have been working on at the moment (email, teaching prep, etc.) to stop and write. 

Me in my favorite writing habitat.
3. Find your writing place. I have two places I like to write. First, I love my home office. My husband decorated it for me to look like I library I love at Oxford University where I spent some time writing. It is dark, earthy, and full of books. I love it. Create a space at home that is special so you can roll out of bed and be surrounded by the things that make you productive. My second favorite place to write is Panera. I get a tea, put on some headphones with some soft classical music like Debussy, and start hitting the keyboard. I don't know why I like Panera over other places with free Internet, but I do. Come at me.

4. Articulate your daily writing goals. I like to break down whatever writing project I am working on (lately they have mainly been books) into monthly, weekly, and daily word goals. I tend to go for a 1000 words a day goal. However, others may have higher or lower writing goals. The point is to have a goal and to try to reach it every day. The more you write, the easier it will be to hit those goals. 

5. Think of yourself as a writer. You cannot be a writer if you don't write. However, ownership of the writer appellation provides a bit of internal seriousness that helps drive your forward to meet your goals. If you think of yourself as a salesperson or personal trainer first your mind will focus on those professions. You may make your money on those jobs. But if you aspire to be a writer, be a writer. For my professor friends out there, we all know that not all professors are writers. If you are a professor and want to write more, start dumping the professor title and think of yourself more as a writer.

6. Read every day. The more you read, the more skilled you will become at writing. Try to find time every day to read a minimum of one chapter in a book or a decent article. The average American reads only two books a year. Most of you reading this blog have connections with Lake Wobegon and are certainly above average. But do you read each day? I like to use time in my university office for reading. Students often come in and out and it is easy for me to set my reading aside and come back to it if a student needs me. It is much harder for me to write with distractions which is why I tend not to write at the university. By reading every day, you will improve your vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structure.  I am certainly not a perfect writer, but I know that I improve all the time through reading. By reading, you will become more comfortable with your own voice which will make it easier for you to write every day.

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