HOW TO DEVELOP A REGULAR WRITING HABIT
How many times have we heard someone say, “I could write a book about that?” On how many more occasions has someone said to us, “One day, I’m going to write a book?” What stops these individuals? Is it that they have no natural gift for writing? Probably, in most cases, “yes.” Is it that writing is not a priority in their busy lives? Again, quite likely, “yes.” Or is it that they can and want to write but have no discipline to develop a plan of action? Unequivocally, in every case, “yes!” So what might be an effective routine that would make writing a reality for those who have the gift?
Quintessentially, it is necessary to evaluate what you must daily accomplish and develop a timetable without attempting too many activities. Either set aside an arbitrary time to write every day or plan each day with a definitive time in mind; it is also helpful if the plan does not deviate too much throughout the week (except for your required day of rest). Carrying a pad and pen or using the voice recorder on your mobile phone is an excellent way to notate inspirations that randomly occur while on the go. However, it is again crucial to designate a fixed time to sit down and organize these thoughts with undivided attention, and the consensus is that mornings, before dawn, are best. Needless to say that getting a good night’s sleep as well as going to bed and arising around the same time greatly assists in being able to work efficiently at such an early hour.
Dependent upon your temperament as an author, full attention to hygiene may or may not be imperative before an initial writing session. But at least wash your face, and brush your teeth; that will significantly assist in keeping you alert and oriented to the task at hand.
The next essential element of a writing routine is to have a dedicated space, if possible, free from the distractions of others in the household, and although some like to write to soothing music, most prefer to silence everything from stereos to televisions to telephones. The award-winning short-story writer, Nathan Englander states, “Turn off your cell phone. Honestly, if you want to get work done, you’ve got to learn to unplug. No texting, no email, no Facebook, no Instagram. Whatever it is you’re doing, it needs to stop while you write.” Englander even admits to the using earplugs to capture dead silence despite no one being at home. Although this may seem extreme, it will indeed cancel out disturbances by noisy neighbors as well as the noises of the street.
Make a commitment, and state your writing goals with clarity. Don’t say: “I’m going to try to write five pages a day;” that sets up an opportunity for failure. Say: I will write five pages a day. Also, make your writing goals measurable. Say: I will write ten pages by tomorrow evening at 6 p.m. Should you not be able to fulfill those aspirations, don’t castigate yourself, merely realize that more work needs to be done and create another clear-cut target keeping it more within your capacity to achieve based on recent experience. Furthermore, as a novice writer, don’t attempt too quickly to write for an extensive period, rather build up to your ideal endurance, and whenever possible, stick to one subject at a time.
Additionally, identifying topics you are knowledgeable about or that most intrigue you will assist in the consistency of your work, and of further benefit is to either join a writing group or share your creations with someone you trust and whose literary acumen you esteem, to help keep you accountable.
Never write on a full stomach; it will only make you more sluggish and preclude your ability to focus. In that vein, too much caffeine intake immediately before and during writing will probably make you jittery, as well impeding your concentration. However, drinking plenty of water prior to and while writing can be to your advantage. According to “Natural Health News”: “If you just can’t think straight, a glass of water may help get your brain working again. The human brain is made of around 85% water. When you are not properly hydrated, the effects can be felt in your brain as symptoms like headaches, poor concentration, and reduced short-term memory.”
Although, as stated, many writers work in the “wee hours of the morning,” experiment with other periods of the day and develop your day’s agenda around the most useful ones. Do not force yourself to write if you do not have to; but when you do, take breaks.
In conclusion, in the development of a regular writing habit, complementary to all the above is for you to make your goals attainable and sustainable, and then: build on them.
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