The Writer procrastinates. It is normal. We all do it. Even walking the dog in the rain seems more appealing than facing a blank page.
‘I’ll just have another cup of tea. Ooh, that laundry needs sorting, the bins need to go out, the dishwasher emptying.’ Your phone pings a message; ‘I’ll just do a quick reply. Oh look, a cute doggie on Facebook. Hang on, I’ll just grab a quick picture of my cute doggie asleep on the sofa. What? Breaking News? I’d better take a quick look at that …’
We all do it. Beginners or full time authors alike.
Developing a writing habit by making space and time in your life to write is the best gift you can give to yourself. When we start out writing, most of us have to juggle the expectations of ourselves and others. This can include going out to work, domestic chores, caring roles for family members and children, and we also have relationships to maintain. Guard your writing time. Don’t let life nibble away at it until there is little left but crumbs.
In order to write consistently, especially when you have a buy life or don’t feel like it, we need to develop a daily writing habit.
Learn to write anywhere. Many of my friends write in cafés and libraries. Or a seat on the 6.15 train to work. So long as you can put words on paper or screen everyday, then you are developing a habit which will grow into a book. I have written whilst travelling on trains and planes; in parks and cafes; on the beach or on a bench; at a desk or in the shower. (Yes, I have a waterproof notebook and pencil called Aqua-Notes, because often the best ideas come to you under a flow of warm water.) For my ‘day job’ I write at the dining table. I have a notebook next to me and turn off the phone and browser.
Find the best time of day for you and try to stick to it. Morning is the best time for me, but we are all different. It can be an hour; half an hour; whatever you can manage.
Every day is a writing day although it is important to take a break to refresh your creativity. It is pointless to become a permanent hermit in order to write, and it is probably unhealthy. People and communities enrich our lives and add much more to the pot of inspiration than they take out. For a writer, time spent with people is rarely wasted.
Avoid the negativity of those who fear your creative potential and will try to put you off or dismiss the writer you can become . We need to guard our writing selves and our creative potential.
We need to find a balance and to prioritise our writing so that it makes it onto our ‘list of life’ as a permanent feature and not an optional extra. Finding that slot for ourselves to write can be a challenge, and we find ourselves longing for the day when we can put writing at the centre of our lives and let everything else dance around it. Until that day arrives – it may or may not – then we should work towards developing a writing habit.
Remember, if you write one page a day you will have 365 pages by the end of the year. Okay, you can have a few days off for high days and holidays, but even 250 pages is a creditable novel length work.
My six tips to develop a writing habit:
- Don’t let domestic chores become an excuse for not writing
- Learn to write anywhere.
- Write daily so that you don’t feel complete unless you have written something
- Find the best time of day for you to write and try to stick to it
- Surround yourself with people who will challenge and support you to be your best
- Make time to refresh your creativity