Writing Habits: Borrow Good Habits from Yourself

Writing habits can make or break your writing career.

With NaNoWriMo starting tomorrow, I’ve been getting organized and ready. But I know from past experience that all the organizing in the world won’t do any good without the writing habits to back it up.

Did you ever wish you could magically transfer some good habits from one area of your life and apply them to your writing? You probably can!

“But I don’t have self-discipline in anything!” you might say. You may feel that way, but it’s probably not true. Don’t believe me? Think about something you’re especially good at. (Can be anything: running races, keeping a clean house, raising children who like vegetables, keeping your weight stable through the holidays…anything.) Next, write down five or six habits you practice regularly that make you successful in this area.

Analyze Your Best Habits

Perhaps you’re thinking, “Well, I was a good student” or “I learned to play the piano,” but you’re not sure what habits made you successful. If that’s the case, pretend that someone approached you and said, “I’d love to be as self-disciplined as you are with your (fitness, music, housekeeping, whatever). Tell me how you do it!”

Then make a list of what you’d tell them to do. Which of those habits can you transfer over to your writing life and make them work for you?

The habits that help you lose weight or be fit or run a business might include:

  • having a support system
  • keeping a written record (of food eaten, miles run, income/expenses)
  • setting small, sustainable goals
  • rewarding yourself for meeting small goals
  • journaling through successes and failures
  • monitoring self-talk to counter-act negative thoughts and beliefs

Borrow Those Habits for Your Writing Habits

The next time you can’t seem to make yourself write or blog or do market research (or whatever is on your “to do” list for the writing day), think about areas where you are successful. Borrow those habits–they’re habits you already have under your belt in one area–and simply apply them to your writing.

Does having a support group help you lose weight? Then maybe a support/critique group would help you be accountable for your writing. Does keeping written records help you balance your budget? Then maybe keeping records of pages or words written and marketing progress would help your writing. Did setting small daily goals with a reward at the end help you get your closets and garage clean? Then would setting small daily goals with rewards help you get your book written?

Whichever habits work for you and your personality would probably transfer well into good writing habits. For me, I don’t need the accountability of a group. I’m a good self-starter and a hard worker. But I’m also that proverbial donkey with a carrot. I get going much quicker and work with more enthusiasm when I have a reward at the end of the task!

Writing Habits: Build on Your Past Successes

Good habits free up our time and attention so we can focus on more important things than overcoming procrastination. Chances are very good that you have had success in at least one or two other areas of your life. Take time to analyze those habits that work for your particular personality–and try applying them to your writing life.

I intend to make a list today and post it on my computer. I intend to use every trick I know to write through National Novel Writing Month!

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