A comprehensive guide to developing a lasting writing practice

writing_guide_practice

We all in the beginning have a motivation to start a new habit: we are pumped up, ready to take on that challenge we set for us and stick to it – being that healthier eating, exercise regime or writing habit. And then, after couple of days/weeks our motivation starts to wane, something comes up that distracts us or it takes more of our investment than we anticipated and what happens next? We are back, indulging in social media and TV instead of working on ourselves.

Having a lasting writing habit is like any other habit. Once it becomes ingrained in your subconsciousness there are lesser chances for you to skip it.

Here are my favorite tips on  making writing a regular practice:

  1. First, make room for your writing.

It means that you have to mercilessly evaluate and edit your schedule and maybe lifestyle in order to see where is your time and probably energy leaking. Writing requires you to focus, to devote your whole being to it, to find that sacred creative moments. If you start writing while you are preoccupied with other things, probably it won’t work – and you’ll end up being even more stressed because you are unsatisfied with your writing.

  1. Always have clear mind: why do you write?

What’s the driving force behind that urge to sit and record your thoughts? Whenever I feel doubt I ask myself this question and it helps me recenter my initial intention. Once you have that clear goal you will have that important thought to cling on, each time you feel discouraged. I even think this the most important part of developing a lasting writing habit: it’s almost like brushing your teeth: you are doing it because you want your teeth to be healthy and it makes you more confident. Treat writing the same way – find your best reasons and you can even place them as a reminder on spots where you will frequently read them. It will always give you the boost you need.

  1. Don’t think about the product, it will come as a natural result of your enjoyment of the process.

What I mean by this, many times in writing and other forms of creative actions we might be driven by fear (of reaching a deadline, being rejected, ext.). But look at it from this angle: you are going to do it anyway, so why just simply don’t let yourself surrender to creativity and stop worrying? Some of you might not agree with me on this one, but let me share with you part of my writing and research journey. When I was writing my master’s degree thesis, at that moment I was employed at the faculty as a postgraduate researcher. At some point my one-year contract expired, it couldn’t be prolonged (the funds were cut off due to political situation in the country) and I was on my own – searching for another job. New opportunity presented itself very soon, at the Institute where I was performing research, but the colleague I was supposed to replace was to be retired very soon -which meant I needed to start working very soon. As it was a government institution, it required for me to already have a master’s degree. So in the next few months I was working 20 hours a day to get that research done, written, defended in order to secure that position for me. I did succeed, but I think I could’ve enjoyed my writing more, instead of worrying all the time. And who knows, my thesis would’ve come even better as a result of that. I remember, it was exactly 15 years ago, I pushed myself so hard to a point I got ill. And it didn’t have to be that way. My most honest advice I can give you is to celebrate and enjoy each page you write, that’s what counts – achievements and awards come and go. Experience is what lasts.

  1. Connect writing action to some other trigger – make a ritual.

I like to write while I drink my smoothie in the morning – having that big mug is like a sure sign -writing is due right after – if I skip that, chances I will skip writing all together. Many famous writers are known for having that action, telling him it’s time to write. For instance, Stephen King each time had breakfast or drank tea used this as reminder to sit and write.

  1. Make yourself accountable – find a writing buddy.

This can be fun and interesting way for you to enjoy writing more. You can join some online community, meetups face to face or make a pact with an old friend and develop some rules on how, what, how much you will write and then share and discuss your writings. Many writing schools, like Writer’s studio that I attended use this technique where each week there is a different writing topic and later we would discuss our writings and get feedback. It’s a proven method that seems to work.

I hope this will help you to develop your own writing habit, one that is enjoyable, fun and productive. Do you have any tips? Please share in the comments below.


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31 Comments

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  1. The only problem with ALL writing advice I’d that when you follow it to the letter and it doesn’t work for you it can be disheartening. What we all need to do is find our own path, but I like these as a starting point and foundation. New writers hear and read so much that is contradictory.

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  2. Some nice reflections of your journey Maja. The piece that stands out for me is celebrating and enjoying each piece of writing you do. Everything else is a bonus. A good post and thank you for taking the time to put it together.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I desperately needed this inspiration today! I have so many ideas for how to move forward now. My husband and I both write so I’m thinking writing dates could be an amazing success!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. have been writing for over 50 years now, but always things to learn. I appreciate your suggestions, especially #3. sometimes after multiple drafts i can get discouraged when the piece is still not working the way that i had hoped. but i will look at it years later and suddenly know what i need to do on it.

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  5. I really needed to read this today. I have days off now that I can work and I get pumped and…yeah, it all falls flat. I look at my half finished work and worry that it’ll get rejected again or it’ll just suck or I’m fooling myself. I’m broke and have so little to my name right now and all I want is to make writing my career and not have to worry that I’ll not have gas money to do my volunteer work. But I need to calm down, and the last little splurge I gave myself I’m staring at right now: a coffee mug I got from a museum that says “Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful.” Ironic that I also read this week’s “The Artist’s Way,” which talked about perfectionism being such a hindrance. The triangle was completed by this post…hmm…what timing. Thanks a bunch, and I’ll print this out and keep it on my desk as a reminder. I must enjoy the process again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi,
      I’m very glad you have found some good advice here. I can completely relate to what you are going through. The only thing I can add up is to try to write as much as you can and enjoy reading pieces you admire (your favorite writers). It’s the sure way to craft your writing. You can also find here on the blog many prompts and exercises if you need inspiration. I know it’s not easy, but persistence is the only way – while focusing on initial reasons why you write. It will help you recenter your attention and keep writing.

      Liked by 1 person

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