Writing habits are important for your growth, consistency, and productivity as a newbie writer.
It is natural to form habits as humans. Some are continuous, routine habits while others fade away with time, growth, and experience. Some habits are good and encouraged while some are bad and can be dangerous if continued.
Simple habits like brushing your teeth, saying a prayer, and making home-cooked meals are routine habits while making a to-do list, journaling, scheduling, and goal setting are healthy habits we pick up over time and blend in with our daily lives to help make the best of our days.
Good habits are cultivated to help us function productively and achieve certain goals we’ve set for ourselves in life, so also as an aspiring author, you will need to develop and cultivate good writing habits to help you through the writing process from start to finish.
Writing a book is not the easiest thing to do; when I started out writing, I never thought it possible to write a 50k-word novel much less an 80k or 100k-word novel but as I progressed, I found it was a reality most authors were living out and I was amazed and curious at the kind of superpowers they had.
Although I haven’t written an 80k or 100k word novel yet, I sure have surpassed 50k and 60k word count in my published novels and it was because of simple habits I created for myself that you can emulate and remodel to suit you.
What Are Writing Habits?
Writing habits are subtly important things we do to help us write consistently so we can make progress with our writing goals on a steady scale. It has nothing to do with writing daily, rather, it has everything to do with helping young authors and published authors alike produce quality work without undue pressure to do so much all at once.
Writing habits are actions cultivated consciously to help aspiring authors grow their craft from the ground up if it’s done correctly. These habits are nurtured over time as you develop them so it becomes a routine and blend in with your daily life.
Importance of Developing Writing Habits As An Aspiring Author
Just like your daily habits have become a lifestyle for you, so also does writing habit grow to become more than routine and evolve into that lifestyle that cannot be ignored with its time to do it.
If brushing twice a day is a habit you’ve cultivated over time, writing 500-words every day could also become a lifestyle for you. If waking up at 4 am and taking a run is a routine you cannot live without, so also will meeting your target of 5000 words a week becomes a goal you cannot ignore.
Developing good writing habits is important to build your mind to become attuned to the idea of writing and grow your craft. Serious-minded authors always have writing habits that work for them and you could develop yours too if you practice the tips I will share below.
Famous authors and Inspiring African Authors have a habit system that works only for them, so also will you need to create one that works for you too. In this post, I have listed a few tips to help you develop good writing habits.
12 Tips to Develop Good Writing Habits As An Aspiring Author
Tip #1: Start Small
This is the most recommended way to build a writing habit. Do not overwhelm yourself with extraordinary goals or it could lead to burnout, creative block, distaste for the writing process, or flat-out frustration.
Instead of aiming to write 10k words in a day and not write in the next two weeks, how about you write 1k or 500 words a day or twice a day and enjoy the process while you are at it.
No one will crucify you for writing 50 words a day especially if you have a crazy schedule or you’re extremely busy. The goal here is to write and enjoy writing while prioritizing quality over quantity.
Tip #2: Have an Accountability Partner
Being accountable to someone about your goals makes you want to keep at it. It encourages you to keep going, makes it easy to share your progress and pain, and keeps you motivated and inspired to reach your writing goal because there’s someone there to urge you on even in your downtimes.
Make sure to get a partner who understands your goals, loves what you do, and is disciplined. The worst thing you could do is have an accountability partner who isn’t interested in your process at the very least. It’d be devastating.
Pick your partner wisely.
Tips #3: Have A Dedicated Space
Creating a writing space to write alone is enough to trigger your mind. Imagine walking into your space, with your vision board high against the wall, your stick-it notes plastered around your desk, your plot trail mapped and ready to go – if you are a plotter – with a cup of coffee to begin or end the day. How would you feel?
Like you just walked into another universe, right? Yeah, I get the same feeling every time I sit down to write but I’m a total pantser, so, my notebook of ideas and outline will do just fine.
It’s important to note that you may not have all the fancy this listed above – I don’t – but I still make my tiny space, with my narrow desk, a bottle of water, and a pack of sweet work for me.
However possible you can crave a dedicated space for yourself, do so because it fills you with a sense of purpose and keeps the drive alive.
Tip #4: Have A Trigger
Having a trigger is a beautiful thing because not everyone will have this. For me, it’s listening to music relating to what I want to write. It could be a sad song, an emotional beat, or a simple upbeat that does it for me.
Find what triggers you to want to write and match it with your creative time to see if it works because some triggers could be physical, unlike music which works at any time.
Tip #5: Habit Stacking
As with having triggers, habit stacking is a great way to build your writing habit. Stacking habits simply means going through the motions of executing some simple tasks before you get to writing.
It’s like a to-do list of routine rituals you have to accomplish before it gets to when it’s time to write. An example is waking up at 5 am, brushing your teeth, having a cup of water, stretching for 5mins then boosting your laptop/desktop, and starting writing.
This way your mind becomes attuned to the fact that after your morning stretch comes writing and eventually builds up to it.
This can be modified to suit the preferred habit of your morning or night person. Always make sure to build your habits around your creative time for it to be effective.
Tip #6: Scheduling
When creating your to-do list for the day, always factor in your writing time and never miss it. Take your writing time seriously like you’d take a project at work or school.
Make it a lifestyle to show up ready to write at your scheduled time. This will help you take your projects seriously and keep you in line with your goals.
Tip #7: Prepare Your Words Ahead of Time
No one shows up for anything unprepared.
As much as writing is 80% creative imagination, it doesn’t mean you have to wait until you’re seated before your computer to start thinking about your next words. Thinking about your next chapter or story continuation could be done while in the shower while doing the dishes or taking a morning stroll or sitting in a commuter on your way to work.
Most times, when you wait until the last minute to start cooking up those brilliant ideas, you’d often find yourself coming up blank or worst still, coming up with broken scenes and mismatched ideas.
Prepare ahead of time what you want to write so it’ll flow effortlessly regardless of when you eventually sit down to write.
Tip #8: Set A Timer
As an aspiring author, the early days/months of developing a writing habit are often the hardest especially if you’re a morning creative. Setting a timer will help you overcome any lapse in the area of getting out of bed.
With time, you’d get used to the routine and it’d become a part of you.
For night creatives who might get carried away with activities or feel too tired to do the needful, setting a timer will come in handy, especially on rough days.
Tip #9: Habit Tracking
Tracking your efforts is a great way to stay productive and keep writing. It’s much like having an accountability partner but this time, it’s done by simple apps that help you track your writing milestones like word counters.
Tracking your progress is a great way to develop consistency with your writing habit because you get to see what you’ve achieved and what’s left to be achieved in your milestone.
Tip #10: Set A Realistic Word Count
As earlier stated, setting an achievable word count will help you achieve your smart writing goals.
As an aspiring author, it’d be better to aim for a word count of 40k overall than a word count of 100k words knowing fully well that you are still in the learning phase and the beginning stages of your writing career.
Your word will change over time as you advance and grow to understand your style, craft, and voice with time. Don’t force the process, allow it to run its full course.
Tip #11: Reward Yourself
Positive reward helps in developing good writing habits. This can be achieved by linking your writing to something you love doing. If you are a movie lover like me, you could reward yourself with a movie after achieving your word count for the day.
Working towards a reward helps you stay focused on achieving the task at hand so you could proudly claim it after crossing the finish line. On that note, it is worthy of note that, quality over quantity is the aim of developing good writing habits.
Don’t mess up your story just to achieve a word count target.
Tip #12: Ignore Editing
This is a pro tip you’ll hear over and over again.
Write until you’re done with your first draft before focusing on editing your work. Editing on the go is a great way to slow down your progress. That’s what apps like Grammarly and ProWriting Aid are created to help you with.
Focusing on editing will keep your attention divided and eventually make your mind wander away from the main objective of achieving your writing goal if you have to criticize every little detail as you write.
As an aspiring author, developing a writing habit is key to keeping you on track with achieving your writing goal. It’ll be a hard task at the beginning but you’ll come to appreciate it as you make progress over time.
In my next post, I’ll be sharing some of the good writing habits you can cultivate and give away 130 creative writing prompts you can use to get started which you’ll find in my last post creative writing prompts for aspiring authors.
Avoid pressurizing situations that will lead to burnout, model and scrutinizes these tips to find what works for you, and lastly, ensure you take it seriously because it will set you apart and give you a strong lead ahead of other struggling authors.
You compete with yourself first, because it’s only when you have a finished manuscript that you can compete with others.