So, what is a habit? It is a learned behavior pattern which is regularly followed until it has almost become a reflex. Over the years everyone acquires daily habits which are performed without much forethought, such as brushing your teeth, putting on sunscreen, or washing our face in the morning. In the beginning, these habits took more than likely a concerted effort, since someone such as a parent had to remind us of them frequently.
But eventually, these desired actions somehow worked their way into the subconscious mind, and are now performed as easily as breathing. So, just imagine how incredible it will be to sit down to write every single day because it is a habit! It would certainly remove a lot of guesswork and ensure you achieve your daily word count with relative ease. While there is no simple path to writing success, there are definitely several things you can do to develop a good writing habit.
It all starts in your mind. We become what we repeatedly tell ourselves, so take a moment and tell yourself a personal writing affirmation, even if you have to look in the mirror in the morning to do so. I know it sounds silly, but science has proven long ago that if you say something to yourself long enough, you will act by those words because you cannot hold a personal belief and then move in an opposing fashion.
Ask yourself why. The "why" is almost more important than how, when, or what you are writing. I write every day even if it's just for a few minutes so I can consistently publish, to include blog posts and articles that are helpful to others. If I don't write for a while, I just don't feel like myself. A strong "why" will encourage a consistent writing habit, even when you are ill, tired, or stressed out.
Set goals. Developing a new habit doesn't mean you are going to decide to write every day and just do it. You might want to start out writing for three hours every day, but that might just be an unrealistic goal. By doing so, you more than likely just set yourself up for failure, and ultimately reinforce the belief that your goal is unattainable. Instead, begin with baby steps by setting an easy-to-achieve objective, such as writing for a quarter of an hour every other day this week. Once you've found your groove, you can slowly increase the time you spend on writing from there.
Set a daily writing time and add it to your schedule. I'm very much a morning person, and I like to write every morning from 6 to 8 am, while sipping my first cup of coffee. Many times I write more, but then there are days when I just can't seem to focus. But, getting my writing done early in the day provides me with a sense of accomplishment and reinforces my daily writing habit.
Say 'Goodbye' to distractions. Your schedule says it’s time to write, but you haven’t been on (insert favourite social media) yet. Write first, then catch up with your friends. FB, G+, and Co. will still be there after you've finished writing for the day. If necessary, close all other windows on your computer so you can focus. Turn off the TV, Radio, etc. if you are one of those people who can't concentrate on a task properly when there's excessive background noise. Sometimes I even turn off my phone or at least put it in airplane mode.
Keep it professional! Don’t feel like writing today? Think about this....when you work outside the home you find yourself going to work even when you are ill, exhausted, busy, or dealing with personal issues. Well, treat your writing like a profession, and you quickly find yourself writing more. When you view your writing seriously, then the productivity will follow soon, even when you're not in the mood for writing.
Always be prepared...to write! This motto doesn't just work for the boy scouts. I usually carry a tablet computer or at least an old-fashioned notebook with a pen around in my handbag in case I think of something to add to one of my current writing projects and find myself with a little extra time to write while I'm out and about.
Don't forget to keep it fun! Writing is an incredible and rewarding journey, and it should be fun, not just mind numbing work! It's true, writing takes a lot of effort, and it can be stressful when faced with deadlines, but it can also be loads of fun. So, do what you must to keep it that way. You’ll be more inclined to write often if you actually enjoy the process. I find writing more enjoyable when it's a subject matter that's important to me.
Developing a daily writing habit will take some time, effort, and patience on your part, but it is so worth it!
Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added two historical fiction novels to her ever-expanding collection of published writings, In the Shadow of Her Majesty and The Country Girl Empress. When she isn't busy typing away on her computer, she can be found chasing after her furry children or holding on tightly to a good cup of coffee. Follow her on LinkedIn, Facebook, Goodreads and Google+.