Writing habits can be good or bad.

person writing on white paper beside white ceramic mug on brown wooden table

I write every day. At least the post for this blog. I may not post here every day for the rest of my life, but I’m almost to the end of a 365 day cycle. I wanted to prove to myself that I could write original content every day for a year. Like Bruce said, “I see this as an absolute win!”

Most days, I also work on other projects. I still have my toes in the water for Ashley Monahan and Fantastic America, and more than that in Gari Garcia in Torthal (a project that is changing as I write it). I also read and write critiques with partners in a couple of groups each week. So I’m never far from my keyboard for long.

Good Habits are helpful.

That brings me to the topic for this post, the habits you develop as you write can help or hurt your writing. Every author is different, like every person is unique, but there are a few constants in writing that I’ve found helpful. There are far more that I’ve found distracting or harmful, but I’ll get to them in a minute.

The first helpful habit to get into is the most basic advice I give throughout all my posts, write. Put your butt in a chair (or on the floor or stand if you have to) and put words on the page. Daily. It may help to write at the same time every day, structure is great for many writers. But I write at any time of the day or night that suits my lifestyle. Each to their own in how you live and fit writing into that life. Just write.

I need peace and quiet to write, my wife and I have a lot of grandchildren here in the summer, so that time is precious to me. If you need quiet to focus on your words, find some. Children sleep, pets sleep (we have four dogs and two cats), and devices can be silenced. There have been times, I had to get work done but couldn’t wait for quiet to fall at our house. Headphones and music is a good substitute for me, at least it masks the majority of the chaos around me.

Bad habits can ruin the best of intentions.

Procrastination is my kryptonite. The worst excuse I make about writing is to put it off for some other task, or to find a reason I can’t put words on the page. Most of it is nonsense, and this is true of most of the procrastination in my life. Once I am in motion to get something done, it takes far less time and effort than I built up in my resistance. But that brings me to another point, resistance.

Resistance in writing usually has another source. I hesitate to write a scene I’m not completely comfortable with, or tackle a project I haven’t thoroughly examined in my mind’s eye. Uncertainty can manifest as doubt, it can cause delays or avoidance (for me) to even attempt to write. So I spend some time examining where resistance is coming from.

Outlining helps me overcome this problem, I can settle the doubts with a plan and get words on the paper. They don’t always survive, but effort build momentum, writing and rewriting move me toward completion. Even if the words are terrible, I’ve found what doesn’t work, and can write something else till I find something that does work.

Find what works for you.

Develop your routine with what you want to accomplish in mind. I have a different mindset for ‘exploratory writing’ on a new subject versus the sandbox method I use while writing the first draft of a novel (pile everything you can into the sandbox edit it later). Both of which are different from blogging, writing poetry, or editing work that needs more attention. Only you can find the methods that fit your writing style.

Maybe you need to shut off devices, close browser windows, and tune out the world around you to do your best writing. Music in the background (or other noises) may help you. Turn off your phone, or set a timer if you think you might write for too long (gasp!). Read blogs to find other suggestions, for every problem you encounter, another writer ahs probably written about their experience along the same line. Help is out there, if you seek it out.

Ultimately, my advice is unchanged. Write. Write well. Repeat until you have something to share with the world. Find people and places to share. Then write more and share that, too. Writing can be solitary, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, I’ve found the best of my writing came when I planned to share it with the world. You may find the same thing.

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