The Four Things You Need to Shape a Consistent Writing Habit

Writing is tough, but it’s incredibly fulfilling. The trick is to get to the point where you’re doing it on a regular basis, rather than once every couple of blue moons.

The Four Things You Need to Shape a Consistent Writing Habit

I’m now publishing two articles every week on this blog, each between four hundred and eight hundred words. If I keep that up for a year, I will have published more than fifty thousand words—the equivalent of a published nonfiction book!

Despite how great I feel about that, sometimes I have to agree with this quote:

'I hate writing. I love having written.' ―Dorothy ParkerClick To Tweet

Some days writing is a wonderful and beautiful experience. Other days, it’s lousy and no fun.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve discovered that if you want to shape a consistent writing habit (that doesn’t make you hate your life), there are four things that you need:

  1. Motivation. Before you start to write, you need to know why you intend to stick to it. Maybe you want to get to know yourself, or intend to grow a platform. You need to have a why to return to when you want to give up.
  2. An Outlet. Whether you choose to write in a journal, newsletter, or blog, you need an outlet to pour your efforts into. You don’t have to write for the public for it to count, words on private paper can mean as much to you as anything else.
  3. Method. If you want to write consistently, you’ll have to commit to some kind of system or plan. How often will you write? How many words? About what? Commit to consistency, and you’re more likely to make it a habit.
  4. Atmosphere. Writing doesn’t just happen. It takes effort, and some environments make that easier than others. Do you write better in coffee shops, or alone in a quiet room? Only you know, and you may have to practice to find out which.
Sometimes writing is really, really hard―but having written is worth it!Click To Tweet

My Outlet

I’ve selected this blog, as the place where I typically write. Sometimes I journal, or write a guest post somewhere else, but this place is mine—I have freedom to call it my own. For that reason (and more) this is my outlet of choice.

My Motivation

I write for a mix of self-leadership and pure love of the craft. I learn so much about myself when I write (my content often reflects where I was struggling at that time). I’d be lying if I told you entrepreneurship plaid no part in this game, but that came as an afterthought—and will enable me to write even more.

My Method

Before each week begins, I look ahead at my calendar and block out the time that I’ll write. I publish a new article on Tuesday and Friday of each week at 6AM, though I typically finish them some time before that. To make each post easier to write, I break the job down into tasks on a list that CoSchedule lets me attach to each post. I have a basic template I follow, and refer to a selection of post topics I keep in Workflowy.

My Atmosphere

The atmosphere in which I best write has become more specific in time. When I write, I listen to the classical station on Focus@Will with headphones on. I use the Pomodoro Technique to break my writing sessions down into smaller increments, and almost always keep a fresh glass of water at hand. I write my first drafts with my laptop on the couch, and edit at my standing desk with a much larger screen.

I know so many people who’ve tried to write, but it just didn’t last. If that sounds like you, that can change—if you find what you need to succeed.

Question: Have you tried (or succeeded) to build a consistent writing habit before?

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  • John, very well said….no, well written!
    Seriously, you’ve offered any new or struggling writer some solid, outstanding advice (and resources) to help them become a consistent producer of written content.

    Another motivational resource I lean on regularly is Steven Pressfield’s wonderful book, The War of Art. It helps me to keep “the resistance” from squashing my writing dreams.

    • Hey John, I have a techie question that maybe you can help with. In my comment above, as a courtesy to readers would it have been possible to make the title a hotlink directly to the book in Amazon? I’m unclear how to do that in Disqus, or if it’s even possible.
      Thanks, Don

      • Yes, Don, it’s totally possible! I did that in my reply above, to demonstrate how. Disqus supports basic HTML in comments, so you can bold, italicize, or link stuff as needed. The html I used above was: The War of Art (minus the extra spaces).

        • So all you do is drop in the code and it converts it? Cool… Thx

          • Am I correct that there are some etiquette rules to follow though? For example, linking back to your own site in the comments is frowned upon, isn’t it? Instead, that should be done via the Disqus profile?

          • There’s definitely some important unwritten etiquette, but it’s generally okay to post a link to a specific resource that answers a question or need, whether that’s on your site or now.

    • Thanks Don, that’s very kind of you to say! I’ll do my best to keep all that up. And yes! I haven’t read The War of Art yet, but it’s high on my reading list.

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