“The habit of doing more than is necessary can only be earned through practice.” ― Seth Godin
Writing, like any other habit, is something that needs time to flourish. Nobody can become a brilliant writer overnight. It involves a period of struggle, disappointments, and a lot of rejections.
I was reading about the life of one of my favorite authors, Sidney Sheldon in his autobiography, ‘The Other Side Of Me’ of how he tried his hand on writing and became a huge success. He had his own side of failures as well.
Some take writing as a hobby, some take it as a source of income, a very few take it by heart! It takes time to create a masterpiece. This masterpiece comes with perseverance. When I started writing, I was not aware of the journey I have started, but now, I refuse to let go!
Though there have been times when procrastination took a toll on me, I now know the reason why it was there. I simply refused to write anything and everything that came to my mind. I wanted to pour out emotions, feelings, learning, experiences, etc. but was so busy with the overthinking that I didn’t find time to sit down to write.
Now after months of procrastination, I am writing again. I jotted down what is needed to be done to form a healthy writing habit. Believe me, it is not complex to hard to follow. Also, the points mentioned here are totally my perspective. I encourage you all to add in your comments and feedback! Alright, let’s start –
1. Read, Read, Read
The first and foremost thing to be done is to read. I recall before I started writing, I read about twenty books. You must be wondering that it is not essential or necessary to read if you want to write right?
Well, the answer to your question can is both, Yes and No. It totally depends on what you want to write and you know-how about it.
You should focus on your subject area, but also broaden your tastes. Read everything!
Refreshing your inner author with invigorating reading will help prevent your style from becoming stale.
Moreover, reading gives you a reservoir of fresh ideas!
2. Time is the Key
The most struggling factor among writers is when to write. They always get stuck sometimes about when to write. Before work or after? During the weekends only? During the late-night or early morning?
Well, it completely depends on how your daily routine looks like. What is your energy level during the different times of the day?
Whatever time or number of hours you commit to writing, you need to stick to it. It will sound difficult initially but as the time will move on, you are going to enjoy it.
A few weeks of practicing mindful diligence will teach you how many pages you can produce in a given time period, and help you understand how to set and meet your goals.
If you want to be a productive writer, then you have to not do what they don’t, wait for inspiration!
3. Keeping Secrets
One thing which I would like you to master is to keep your ideas safe. Don’t ever reveal your story, characters, plot or anything related to your novel to anybody.
How difficult it seems? It will serve two purposes – one is that you will be safe from the thief who might steal your precious idea and second is that it might happen that once you pour it all out in front of someone rather than on paper, chances are that you will forget what your grand idea was!
To make matters worse, I am sure that all those to whom you have blabbed your idea, will not even take out time to ask you that how did the grand idea go?
Sit with that agonizing hot clinker of story burning in your gut until you’ve written it all down. Then, tell your friends. Hell, tell the world, because now you’ve earned the right.
4. Where to Write?
This one is my favorite point. I am a quiet person who might easily get distracted by even the smallest thing. Earlier I used to write in places with a lot of noise such as a cafe buzzing with people.
Now, I simply sit in my room in front of my desktop, close the door and write in silence. I have realized that while writing, I enter into a different world altogether, inebriated by words all around.
You might feel comfortable writing even in a traffic jam, or in a discotheque, it totally depends on your personality. The thing here is to select that little space in which you love to delve and write.
5. Setting the Boundaries
This one can be difficult for some. Well, it has been for me. It becomes difficult for people to understand that you are up to something. It becomes more difficult to make them understand that your writing is important to you.
Friends and family members sometimes become pokey and interfere when it is the time for you to write.
Writing is not your hobby. It is not something to do to pass the time while waiting for folks to be available to distract you.
You need to show that passionate devotion to your commitment to writing to your people and to yourself. You can politely request your friends and family not to disturb you when you are writing.
They might grumble now and then, but they will get used to it. They will also share in your pride of accomplishment down the road.
No one likes unfinished projects. Does your boss like you leave home without completing your work? No! Always finish your drafts. Don’t leave them in the middle.
Don’t be the writer with that over-edited first chapter that’s been spun into absolute gold, but has nothing readable following it.
It’s in your hands to finish that draft and edit it later. Who knows what you might end up with a brilliant masterpiece at the end?
7. Stick On With Your Team
Like any other work, writing cannot be done without a team. Yes, if you are wondering that writing is a lonely exercise, think about it again.
Your team is your publisher, your editor, your literary agent who are your constant listeners. will tell you the truth about your work, and offer suggestions on how to make it better. Your proofreader will give your manuscript that polished, professional look.
You will need a cover artist to make your book leap off the shelf into a reader’s hands. Not to forget, the PR team is responsible for the marketing of your book so that it reaches and is read by the masses!
8. Setting the Goals
A task without a goal is no task at all! If you are giving an input, there must be some output. Here, the time factor plays an important role. You need to set goals to avoid procrastination, distraction, and endless disappointment.
Set goals you can easily achieve. Set the bar low, then lower it even more, so you always step away from your writing session with a success, with a win, with progress. Whether you commit to two pages a week, or to twenty-five, make sure you get your pages done.
If work, family, or any other facet of life glints you into distraction, stay up a little later that night, or get up a little earlier the next day, so your goal is achieved. Fast or slow, stay on track like a freight train.
9. Love Your Readers
You have written your book for the readers out there, right? Imagine you being the reader of your own book. Step into their shoes, go to the market, to the bookstore, pick up your book. You are feeling the warmth of the cover and pages as you flip it through?
It is a commitment from the reader’s side to buy and read your book. Honor and appreciate your readers’ investment by doing your very best work.
It cannot be about the money for you. Be sure that your readers’ time feels well-spent, and not a pointless sacrifice.
10. Communication – The Best Weapon
No writer is alone if they know how to build a community of readers. It is essential for the author to be reachable, available for the readers. Give them an email address, where they can reach out to you directly.
It also gives a sense of confidence that they will get a reply from their favorite writer.
Some writers might believe that good work is all that’s due and owing to one’s public. Now you know I disagree. In addition to hearing from readers, you might find yourself fielding questions from other writers in need of advice.
This is a great compliment. Offer what thoughts you can. Be the author you wished you could talk to when you were starting out.
It is going to be helpful to you in the long run.
Cutting the long story short, writing may seem a tedious habit to form initially, but it is the case with all other habits out there. What do you think? Feel free to add in your comments and send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear out how you became a writer and what piece of advice you would like to give out to your readers.