5 Simple Habits to Boost your Writing

Shut Up & Write! 5 Simple Writing Habits for 2018

Happy New Year! I hope the first few days of 2018 have been amazing for you all! The beginning of a new year always seems to be magical time, a time when we reach for what we want most. I want to share some simple habits to help you capture that energy and bring it into the year as a whole to really kickstart your writing.

1) Add active observation in your daily routine

It’s normal to become inured with our day-to-day routines, but pause, take a breath, make a point to observe what’s happening around you. You’ll find you see things that you’ve never noticed before. That’s where our wonder creeps in. See where your mind wanders, what you start to imagine. Take mental note of the details… And if you’re looking for some extra practice, write them down! (You keep a notebook with you, right?)

2) Create your writing ritual

Rituals are powerful tools. Create a writing ritual for yourself takes advantage of your brain’s ability to recognize patterns. When you repeat your ritual over and over, you literally train your brain! And when you sit down to write, it becomes easier because your brain recognizes that it’s time to write.

A ritual can be anything, but one thing I suggest is to pick a specific location. Having a place where you exclusively do your writing tells your brain, “When I’m here, I’m writing.” It can be desk or specific coffee shop, or something as simple as the opposite end of the dinner table from where you usually eat. Just like an altar, your creative juices will start to really flow as your relationship with that place strengthens.

Maybe you write with coffee, first thing in the morning. Maybe you listen to a specific playlist. Find what works for you. You can borrow specifics from other writers, but put something new into it. Personalizing your writing ritual will built that connection and make you more likely to stick with it.

3) Learn when to rest your writing

This can be hard for some of us, especially if you’re on a deadline, but sometimes the best thing for your writing is to set it aside for a day, or week, or more. Giving yourself the space to return to your writing and look at it with fresh eyes can be especially helpful, particularly if you don’t have a second set of eyes lined up.

In the meantime take a walk, go see some art, live life outside of the office for a bit. Get out there and observe the world. It’ll really help your writing.

4) Add a little more time to your writing practice

Start by adding an extra 5-10 minutes to your practice. Then, once that becomes the new normal, add a little more. Soon, you may find you’re writing an additional 30 minutes to an hour. It’s amazing how quickly those extra minutes will add to your word count. By doing this small incremental change, whenever you can, you’ll see real progress in your work.

5) Put your writing time in your calendar.

If you haven’t done this already, do it! You are statistically more likely to do something if you write it down. Just like with your writing ritual, this tells your brain that this is important to you, that it needs to pay attention. Be as specific in your calendar. Put down the time, location, duration of your session. Your brain will pick up the specificity and help you remember.

Also, set up some support structures for yourself. Set a reminder on your phone. Negotiate with your family to make sure they know that this will not be the time to ask you about grocery list items. If you do all this work ahead of time, it becomes much easier to get your writing done.

So, whatever you’re writing, a novel, memoir, poem, screenplay, or some technical writing, we want you to have the best writing year yet. And we hope you’ll come write with us. Happy 2018!

Published by Catherine Ellsworth

Catherine Ellsworth is currently working on a science-fiction novel and runs a monthly critique group in the Bay Area. When not writing and reading, she eavesdrops on commuter conversations, monitors the development of AI, and fantasizes about living on other planets.

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