Spring may bring flowers, late evening light, and seasonal allergies to my world, but it also brings a review of my writing habits. Since starting a new teaching job in the fall, my writing hours have decreased drastically. On the upside, I have summers off which leaves space for dreaming up plans to reboot my writing life. There are six more weeks until break begins–now is the time to form the habits that will let me reach my goal.
How to form a writing habit:
This is obvious. Form a writing habit by writing. What could be more simple? Of course, simple does not equal easy.
Six steps to get yourself in gear:
- Establish a goal. This could be a NaNoWriMo-type word-count goal, a beginning-to-end of a first draft goal, or a revision goal. It could be as minimal as writing something–anything–for fifteen minutes a day. Take the time to set a reasonable goal, but don’t take so much time that goal-setting overshadows actual writing. (We’ve all been there!)
- Make time. Write it on your calendar if you are a calendar-following-type-person. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you. Tell everyone–especially people who share your living and/or work space–so they can support you. Do whatever it takes to get your butt in the chair at the appointed hour.
- Start. Once you are in the chair, do what you have to do to start writing. Cut off your wifi access, close the blinds, put in earplugs. You know what distracts you–don’t let it happen.
- Keep doing it. This is the hard part, especially when you hit a lull, or fear overtakes excitement, or life gets in the way. Keep showing up. We’ve all heard that it takes 21 days to form a habit. Some studies claim 28. Others suggest 66 days. Or is it closer to 200? I believe (without any scientific research to back me up) that habit-forming takes long as you think it will. If you believe you are in the habit of writing, you are.
- Reward yourself. Set milestones and give yourself prizes. A bite of chocolate every 100 words, a walk in the sun for every hour sitting at your desk, a weekend at the beach for each chapter completed. Your rewards are going to be as individual as your goals.
- Own it! Once you establish a habit, give it some flair. Play disco music and dance around the room each time you complete a session. Wear a lucky hat when writing. Translate your finest sentences into a foreign language. Invent a writer’s yoga pose. Do whatever it takes for you to keep your habit fresh and worthwhile for you.