Cultivating good writing habits is essential for a productive writing life. As an aspiring author, making writing a habit will eventually make it a part of your life and daily routines, so that when you take into account how productive your day was, you’d factor in achieving your writing goal for the day as one of them.
It’s hard enough to keep up with your work-life balance, then you throw in writing to the mix and it feels like the walls are about to start crumbling down whenever you even think about taking a sneak peek at your manuscript.
Yes, I get that sometimes too, but guess what? In this post, you’ll be learning 15 simple writing habits to cultivate that will help get your creative juices flowing and help your mind gravitate towards the idea of writing as a routine, not a chore.
You have to first understand how to develop good writing habits before you can think about cultivating some for yourself because that is the origin and from where you can begin to prepare your mind to accept the new lifestyle change that has come to stay.
Here are some of the simple writing habits you can cultivate to help you build daily consistency with your craft.
Writing Habit #1: Organizing Your Writing Space
One of the ways to develop good writing habits discussed in the previous post was by creating a dedicated space for writing alone. With that in mind, it’d be horrific to then approach that desk in the wee hours of the morning, ready to make some characters pay, or swoon, only to find it in a state of utter mess.
Whatever idea was dancing around in your head at that point may jump out the window in an instant because some ideas are as flitting as that. Once gone may never be recovered.
Take out a few minutes to organize your writing space and set things in motion before going to bed, if you are an early creative like me, or ensure to organize your workspace before you leave for work. Nothing kills the good vibes faster than walking into a writing space in disarray after a hectic day.
I can assure you that the project will be shifted to another time and those ideas shoved into a corner if they are still floating around somewhere.
Writing Habit #2: Researching
I can easily connect this with preparing your words ahead of time, which is another tip for developing a good writing habit we discussed earlier.
The power of research cannot be underestimated – even when you’re a pantser and depend fully on your creative imagination. It’s easier to browse ways to kill a man if your plot calls for it and then, modify your result to suit your storyline than to sit for hours cooking up new ways to kill a man that may not even be realistically possible.
Preparing for your story ahead of time involves research. This will save you from wasting productive hours banging your head against your palm trying to figure out what next to write.
Writing Habit #3: Creating Your Inspiration
If you have to wait for that brilliant idea to click every damn time before you get to work hammering out your WIP, then it’s not going to help you build writing consistency, which is the essence of this entire series of posts.
Find what works for you and tweak it consistently, until you find the perfect rhythm that will spark those beautiful imaginations of yours whenever you need it.
An example is, I love to write with the overhead lights on because it keeps me from straining my eyes in the wee hours of the morning, but I cannot control when the power board decides to give or take back what’s theirs.
*I’m always pissed at them*
So, instead of writing only in the mornings – as I would prefer – I choose to write in the mornings whenever there’s power or during the day with daylight. There’s no way I’m writing at night in my cramped space and everyone talking and yelling all at once – Nah, it’d be suicidal and one of my characters could bear the brunt because of that inconvenience alone and I wouldn’t blink twice or feel remorseful.
To keep the words pumping and always smash your daily or weekly writing goals, you need to create your motivation.
Writing Habit #4: Keeping a Healthy Balanced Lifestyle
To be productive, you need to be wholly balanced.
As an aspiring author, one of the things you may ignore is your well-being, which is wrong. As much as you have a goal to achieve for the day or the week, it doesn’t mean you have to neglect your personal needs or health, depending on what the issue may be.
I can barely walk when I have cramps, so sitting to write becomes uncomfortable. I won’t sacrifice my personal needs at that time because I have a daily word count goal of 1,500 words per day. I know I won’t judge myself for not achieving that goal, instead, I’d look forward to grinding the next day.
Ensure you’re mentally, physically, and emotionally balanced at all times. Although that’s a bit far-fetched in reality, it’s important to maintain a healthy work-life balance to function properly.
Writing Habit #5: Writing Every Day at Your Most Creative Times
This rule has been hammered to death, yet it remains evergreen.
I added a little tweak to this because most authors take this habit at its literal meaning which has led to a lot of strain along the way. I’m talking about burnout, mental stress, frustration, guilt, etc.
Writing every day is an excellent habit aspiring authors are encouraged to cultivate, but I say it should be done at your most creative hour.
If you are a morning person, find schedule your writing within that hour, same as if you’re a night person or midday person who likes to sit in a quiet café at noon and have coffee. You could write even then if it’s your thing.
Avoid writing under undue stress for the sake of writing or because it’s a rule. No, you have to always factor in what works for you and go with that flow. It’s much easier that way.
Writing Habit #6: Using Writing Prompts
One of my favorite things to do is jump on any writing prompt I come across and make the of it in a few words or sentences depending on the rule of the prompt.
If you are still lacking the inspiration to write after going through several motions to get the ideas flowing, you could try using a writing prompt.
It could be a prompt created by you or someone else, a prompt you picked up from discarded wrapper, or a snippet of what someone said in a conversation you just had.
I rarely miss Okadabook’s plot twist Tuesday and their flash fiction Friday on Instagram because I love how challenging their prompts and twists could get. It may not have inspired any book, yet, but I’m not ruling it out as a great source of inspiration.
Also, I have written short stories for contests based on strings of writing prompts pieced together. Some I won, others, I didn’t but it was refreshing to have tried that route too.
Want to give writing prompts a shot? Here is a list of 130 free writing prompts you could try in different genres.
Writing Habit #7: Journaling
This is the easiest way to cultivate excellent writing habits.
Before I decided to become an author, I had a notebook, a diary, or a journal everywhere I went. It didn’t take long to migrate to some android notebook apps and the like. I love jotting things down and taking notes of little ideas that cross my mind.
I don’t journal regularly but I enjoy the feel of writing on a blank page every once in a while.
Journaling gives you room to explore everything and tell the pages exactly what you feel, which is popularly called a mind dump. It is a therapeutic process I enjoy so much because it opens up the mind and allows the words to flow through like silk.
You can make journaling a lifestyle too. There are daily journals, goal journals, productivity journals, wellness journals, and many more you can invest in to keep track of your progress and live progressively.
Thinking about journaling? There are a few personal journals you can begin with right here.
Writing Habit #8: Have an Outline/Overview
Forget about whether you’ll be pantsing or plotting your first draft. Outlining your intended story is a key factor to consistency in writing.
You need to have a general overview of what your story will look and feel like from the inside out before you begin to hammer away on that outline as you write.
Call it a road map or a treasure hunt, the goal is a map that walks you through your story from start to finish. This way you never run out of inspiration or get stuck along the way as you make progress with your draft.
Cheers to our writing planner. You can worry less about how to outline your story by using this simple printable writing planner.
Writing Habit #9: Training Your Focus
Cultivating these habits is a catalyst that helps your mind evolve with each one you gain mastery of which sharpens your focus and builds your mind to become attuned to these subtle changes in your routine.
You’ll see yourself beginning to easily adjust to changes in time and your focus will have a new direction.
Writing Habit #10: Setting Rewards for Milestones Achieved
A positive reward a day keeps your writing goals in check. Yeah, I made that up on the spot while writing this – I love it.
This is one important part of writing most authors neglect. I love rewards, I love the thrill that comes with finishing a task and jumping right into my sweet jar or juice pack for a little snack as I promised myself.
Learn to set rewards for your writing milestones, it helps motivate you to strive harder, push yourself and do more.
It doesn’t have to be something large, just denying yourself a few of your favorite things which will be returned to you once you hit that mark is enough positive reward in my books.
What do you think?
Writing Habit #11: Choosing Quality over Quantity
This habit cannot be emphasized enough. Always choose quality over quantity in every aspect of your writing. Do not write for the sake of writing.
If you’re tired, get some rest. If you’re swamped with work, write another day. When you’re sick, take care of yourself first. Leave guilt aside, leave reprimands at the door and make sure you’re ready to write for yourself and your readers, because you want to and are excited about it, not because some rule says you have to.
Note the difference.
Writing Habit #12: Avoiding Writing Distractions
There’s no greater evil to a creative mind than distractions. Worst still when you’re struggling with your draft.
Eliminate all forms of distraction as much as you can – I try to, as much as I can, though I can’t very well eliminate my siblings, I try to work when they are not around.
What I consider a distraction may not be considered as such to you, but I do know one we can all agree on. Social media. Good heavens, the minute it pings, it could be the end of our creative journey for the day.
Flush out those little things that’ll draw your attention away from writing especially if you don’t have a secluded space to yourself alone.
Writing Habit #13: Avoiding Stress Writing
If you can’t think properly when stressed, how then can you write?
Stress writing is a recipe for error, filler words, plot slack, emotional imbalance, and weak storylines. We don’t want to find ourselves tearing up sheet after sheet of paper the next day – if you’re writing by hand or having to eventually delete pages of words – if you’re typing – when it could be avoided and you can have the much-needed nap you deserve.
If you stress write, there’s a 70% chance you may not like the bun you baked come morning. Avoid it.
Writing Habit #14: Avoiding Editing on The Go
Do have to spell it out so you’d get it? Yes.
Lock that nagging spirit of editing on the go henceforth. You can read through your work when you’re done or at a later date, but doing so as you pour out your mind on the sheet is an invitation for distraction.
It’s the number one creative time killer and should be avoided at all costs. If you’re writing with apps that edit on the go, ensure it doesn’t distract you too much or you could switch off the auto-correct function on those apps until you’re done.
It saves you the time you’d have used to multi-task and helps you keep your focus on what’s more important. Writing your heart out.
Writing Habit #15: Enjoying the Process
As an aspiring creative, you must learn to love the process. It’s the only way it will become less of a burden and more of a thing you’re passionate about.
Habits are cultivated around things we love, so if you don’t love writing and the flaws that come with it, you’d never truly be committed to cultivating a good writing habit.
It’ll become more of an obligation than a passion you’re crazy about.