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Forming the Habit

Keep on Writing…How?


You have to go to work. You have to work out. You have to clean the house. You have to pay the bills. Shuttle the kids. Go to the store. Cook.

Bottom line: there are a million things that can get in the way of writing. And your novel won’t write itself, will it?

Not only that, but it bugs you. It’s like that feeling when there’s something in your eye and you can’t get it out. At first, it doesn’t bother you. You figure if you ignore it, it will work itself out. But it hurts. First, just a little. But then, more. Then your vision blurs. And you know the only cure is to sit down and write. Maybe just for thirty minutes.

But you spend twenty minutes just getting yourself caught up to where you were. So you start to write but your phone rings. Ah. Time to go pick someone up from practice.

I’ll bet at least some of this sounds familiar. Frustrating, isn’t it? How can you fix it?

The first thing to do is plan. When can you be alone for a while? Early morning? Late at night? After the kids are in school? Lunch? Figure out a time or two every single day that will work. Even if it’s only thirty minutes most days, that’s a start.

The next thing to do is to form the habit. If you decided early morning is the answer, then set your alarm thirty minutes earlier than usual. Make yourself a deal: tell yourself that you’ll do it for six weeks and take stock after that. At first it might bother you, but you will come to enjoy it. You will look forward to it. All of a sudden, six weeks will have gone by and you’ve written 20,000 words. Not bad.

Another motivator to form the habit is to track your progress against your goals. I keep an Excel sheet tracking the number of words that I’ve completed each day. I get a strange sense of accomplishment when I’ve met my daily word goal. Figure out the tool or tools that work for you. And be aware that once in a while, the story goes off track making you feel as though you wasted time. You didn’t. You made progress. Going off track helped you see where the story should really go. You’re okay!

Stay organized. Be aware that a cluttered workspace is distracting.

Break up the project into small goals. Perhaps it’s a word count. Perhaps it’s the number of minutes you’ve devoted to writing. Then after you’ve accomplished that, give yourself a pat on the back. Then give yourself another one. And maybe buy yourself lunch or a latte. Take a minute to recognize what you just did wasn’t easy.

Hold your head up and revel in it for a moment! You deserve it!


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