Getting back on track by making writing a habit

Well, I wouldn’t have a blog at all if I couldn’t come here and talk about how unproductive I’ve been. This seems to be the central theme of my writing life up until now and during the dog days of summer, I’m determined to make a change.

I have realized that I like the idea of writing instead of the writing itself. And I’m probably not alone in this. Once I came to that realization, I broke it down.

What is it about the idea of writing that I like?

I like the feeling of accomplishment when I’ve finished a project: the “I love having written” syndrome.

What is it about the practice of writing that’s putting me off?

Finding solid chunks of time when I’m not pulled away by family distractions or even ambient sounds. It’s amazing how distracted I can become.

What can I do to merge the idea and the practice together?

This is the tough one, and it’s answer doesn’t necessarily solve all of my problems. I want to make sure I have that feeling of accomplishment while at the same time making the practice of writing part of my everyday routine. Of the countless articles and blogs I’ve read about being a more productive writer, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are XXX things that resonate throughout all the advice.

1) Guard your writing time ruthlessly

This is a no-brainer, but sometimes hard to put into practice. If free time were completely my own, this wouldn’t be an issue. But I have a family and that means obligations outside of myself and I thought this would be the hardest hurdle to jump. Yet I realized one simple but fatal flaw in my thinking: that I have to fit writing into my free time. Suggesting that writing is something outside of work or family, that it’s still somewhere in the realm of hobby and something that only gets done when there is free time was the nail in the coffin. My writing time has to be carved out of all of my time: my work, family, chores, etc. Writing time is work time and as I am corralled off during work hours, so too shall I be when I’m writing.

2) Find a writing spot (or multiple)

I can’t write well at home. The drive to distraction is short and full of obligation. What I can do is make time each morning to head to a local coffee shop and get a few words down. I enjoy writing longhand so I don’t even need WiFi or a power outlet for my Chromebook. The physical space of the “place I write” has a power all its own. I’ve tested this out a few times over the last couple of weeks and I am so surprised how focused I become. I’ve gotten my YA Fantasy novel almost completely outlined. (This also included a LOT of world building, so outlining the next books in the series should go smoother – I can hear you laughing at me 😉 )

3) Burn it into your muscle memory

Making writing a daily habit is essential for me. I find myself relying on routines, muscle memory, rote actions, whatever, to get most tasks done on a daily basis. In order for me to be productive (and remember, your mileage may vary) I have to take it on everyday. I understand that daily writing is not necessary, not even weekly writing. All writers have to do what suits them best. For myself, it has to be as important and routine as brushing my teeth or walking the dog. It’s has to be done, so it will be done. Granted, creating new habits doesn’t take the 21 days that we’ve been repeatedly told. It could take 90 days, or 10 days, or a year. Hopefully, it won’t take too long.

Well, there you have it, the three things I’ll be working on to get back and stay on track writing. Have you found yourself wavering in your commitment as well? What tricks do you have for staying on track and getting your words out?

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