Today, I want to talk about building a writing habit. I’ve discussed this topic quite a bit on this channel, and I’m a strong advocate for establishing a writing routine. If you’re a writer, then a writing habit is your most potent tool for achieving your goals.
If you’re going to build a writing habit, it’s crucial to start at the beginning and understand why you want to have a writing habit in the first place. Many people enjoy writing and the feeling it gives them, or they like the product of their efforts, but they don’t know their ultimate goal. They don’t understand why they’re doing it. However, if you want to build a writing habit, answering this question is vital.
Why do you write?
Everything we do is driven by some form of motivation. When we can identify that motivation, display it like a poster, and keep it in sight, it continues to inspire us. Building writing habits—or any habit—is challenging. We need a motivation that will sustain us through the difficult periods because establishing a writing habit is hard.
It’s not as if you wake up one morning, decide to build a writing habit, and then, over the next 30 days, you write every day, and voila, you have a writing habit. That’s not how it works. If you’re highly self-motivated, you might manage something similar, but I guarantee that as soon as life shifts your priorities, that habit will vanish like smoke.
We don’t want a habit that will just disappear. We want to build something that will serve as a pillar for our writing for our entire life. We don’t want to be fair-weather writers. We want to be people who practice this craft diligently over a long period.
One of the things I am looking forward to so much is when I am 80 years old, sitting on my porch, and a grandchild or some kid walks up and says, “Hey, I picked up this book that you wrote, and I’m really enjoying it.” I want to be able to look at them and say, “I’ve got a lot more, because I kept going.”
I don’t want to write for a little while and then move on to other things. Writing is a piece of who I am. It’s a piece of my core, and whether I stay as an author for the rest of my life or not, I know I’ll keep writing.
Once you’ve figured out why you want to write and understood the driving force, it’s beneficial to define your goals clearly. We’ve talked about why we write, now we want to talk about what we are trying to accomplish. You might think, isn’t that backwards? Shouldn’t you decide what you want, and then decide why you want to accomplish it? Trust me, this is the correct order. If you decide what you want first, and then decide why you want to accomplish it, invariably, your ‘what’—the thing you’re trying to accomplish—is going to turn out to be wrong. It’s challenging to identify what we want if we don’t know why we want it.
Before this gets too abstract, let me give you something practical. If you take nothing else away from this, I want you to define your objective clearly. Write down exactly what you want to accomplish. When I started building my writing habit, it was, “I want to write at least 2,000 words a day.”
At the time, this goal was not attainable. I didn’t have enough time in my day, and I didn’t write fast enough to write 2,000 words a day, but I still set that as my goal. That’s what I wanted because I thought, “2,000 words is about a chapter for me, and if I’m doing one chapter a day consistently over a year, that’s going to be enough writing for me.”
My goal now is a bit different. I’m aiming for closer to 10,000 words a day. I’ve sped up a little bit and have a bit more time to commit to it, but I started with my ‘why.’ Writing is part of who I am, and I want to write stories that people will enjoy, even when I’m really old. Then I identified my ‘what,’ and what I want is to write 2,000 words a day when I started, and now 10,000 words a day.
So, I want you to do the same thing. Figure out why you’re writing, and then figure out what you want, and state them both as clearly as you possibly can. This will help you internalize not only your motivation but the goal you’re setting for yourself. Don’t be ambiguous. Be explicitly clear, and then take some time to meditate on them. If you find that they’re not quite right, adjust them. You’re going to be adjusting them throughout your life. You may never adjust the ‘why,’ but you certainly will adjust what you want because eventually, you’re going to achieve that goal. Then you’re going to want to set a new goal, a higher goal, just like I’ve gone from 2,000 to 10,000.
If you don’t mind sharing, I’d love to hear your ‘why.’ What is it that keeps you writing? Send me an email and let me know why you write, and while you are at it, throw in your goal as well so I can cheer you on!
YouTube Video Link: https://youtu.be/lZldBkj821k
Thanks for reading and watching.
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