Home » The Writing Habit » Making Time to Write: Forming the Write Habits

Making Time to Write: Forming the Write Habits

Making Time to WriteHabits can be both good and bad depending on whether they serve your writing habit or create hurdles for it. Today we’re going to talk about good habits and how they help us make time to write.

When I maintain the writing habit, I get antsy if I haven’t written. It’s a feeling of anxiousness that I’ve forgotten something important. It works for me, though I know it doesn’t work for everyone. Once I’ve spent time writing, there’s a sense of relief. This sense of leaving something undone lets me know that my good habits are still working. When I lose that feeling, I know it’s time to figure out where I strayed off the path and get back on it. When I feel it, I’ll make time to do it.

What works for you? What signs are in place that your writing habit is doing its job? You’re the only one who can answer that, but here are a few signs that might mean you’re doing fine:

  • You go to the computer or your writing space without thought or planning, often at the same time each day.
  • You feel the nagging sense of missing something until you sit down to write.
  • You find you are unconsciously ordering your day or environment to allow writing time.
  • You are driven, sometimes physically agitated, until you have a pen and paper in your grasp and are laying down words.
  • You recognize an excuse when you see one.

Resistance is a real thing for most writers and I find habit can help me overcome resistance to a large degree. Resistance is higher when I’m tired there’s a lot of life going on. Keeping good habits is especially hard when my schedule is in flux, as it has been for the last few months. The majority of conversations I have with writers in terms of habit maintenance usually involve changes in schedule. Most of the conversations with new writers are about resistance. We need to set guides for ourselves to create and maintain the good habits that support writing.

After decades at this craft, I know how easy it is to let a habit slide and how hard it can be to establish again. Over the years, I’ve created some benchmarks to gauge when I might be slipping. Note, these are my benchmarks. They may not work for you, but you can develop some that do.

  • I keep track of my word count and pay attention when volume slips.
  • I am accountable to my critique group and they frequently ask if I’m writing.
  • I read over my writing journal and highlight times I’ve missed writing and make myself explain why. If the excuse doesn’t hold up, I pay more attention until I’m back on track.
  • I set deadlines and weekly word count goals.

Once you know you can write anywhere and at almost any time, you’ll find you make fewer excuses for not getting at least a minimum word count every day. My preferences are still there, and yours will be, too, but knowing we can get the work done goes a long way (and sometimes it’s easier to overcome resistance if we just scribble a few lines when we can instead of sitting down for an hour-long session).

Sometimes life conspires to keep us from the page. You’ll have to decide for yourself if the circumstances warrant easing up on your expectations. Because I count all forms of writing (blog posts, journal, projects, etc.), I don’t worry as long as my volume is consistent. That allows for more journaling when life gets in the way and more projects when there’s smooth sailing. When life happens, just be aware you might need to re-establish your good habits and make a plan to do so as soon as the smoke clears.


 

What are your tricks for maintaining healthy writing habits? Where do you struggle?

Making Time to Write

Not-So-Obvious Time Wasters

Finding Hidden Time

Becoming Portable

Forming the Write Habits

The Job vs No Job Myth

12 Tips for Making the Most of Your Writing Time

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13 thoughts on “Making Time to Write: Forming the Write Habits

  1. LOVE – I have never been a ‘habits’ person, but in the last month or so, I have been hitting the cafe around the same time (10 – 12:30 in the morning). Do the words flow smoothly? NO. Am I focused? NO. But I am present and mindful and aware of my excuses, which is way better than living on auto pilot.

    I am hopeful about writing more for MYSELF if I continue showing up – lovee youu #HUGS

    Kitto

  2. I am in the middle of an online course that fosters creating a regular writing habit. I like the idea – I really do. But, I think that you bring up a really good word – an adjective to modify habit. Healthy habits. I have been getting up a half hour earlier each day to devote to writing. And although I have been faithful to that commitment, I am beginning to wonder whether it is healthy in a holistic sense. Yes, I am writing more – and am coming up with some decent pieces for new stories, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of your physical or mental health. Everything in balance, I say – I think I may need to find a way to bump bedtime up a little sooner 😉 I enjoy writing too much to abandon the quiet and sacred time I have set aside 🙂

    • An earlier bedtime might be a solution. Good habits should support you as a whole person absolutely. The best part about routines is that they can be changed and tweaked for optimum effect. And they change over time. I’m getting up at 4:30 these days to accommodate a family member. That means an 8 pm bedtime or a cranky writer. As a night owl, I don’t like it. But, like you, I’m getting work done in the wee hours so will let it ride until I can change it and go to bed at 8. 🙂

  3. Like you, I respond well to routine (but that can be a curse if someone moves my cheese and shakes up my schedule). I’ve recently let go of my Excel spreadsheet of hours/words logged in because it was throwing my perfectionism into overdrive and become abusive.

    The tallies and totals were interesting, but I know my To Do list. I have X number of blog posts and guest posts I have to complete each month. Plus, I’m in a weekly critique group. I don’t want to look lame to them, so I keep cranking out the words.

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