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.
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 Parker”
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!”
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 the freedom to call it my own. For that reason (and more) this is my outlet of choice.
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.
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 6 AM, though I typically finish them sometime 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.
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?