First and foremost, a daily writing habit doesn’t work for everyone, so if you’re setting out to make one for yourself know that it’s okay if you don’t write every single day. You can have break days, and you can have break weeks, and all of that is good and normal.
I’ve had some luck using a project like NaNoWriMo, where there’s a community and a special website where you can track your writing for each day, you have a goal and the site shows you graphs of your progress. That can be very motivating! But NaNoWriMo only runs once a year, and CampNaNo is a couple of times more. So although those are great short term options, if you want a proper habit it’s probably not what you want to start with.
Instead, make a deal with yourself to really do this. I’ve recently come to the realisation that people make time for the things that really matter to them. You hang out with your most important friends, you spend time on the most important piece of work. If you want to create a piece of writing every day you have to make it a priority. No more ‘I just can’t find time’ excuses, if this is important to you, you’ll make time for it.
Where do you find the time?
– wake up an hour early and write then
– your lunch break
– as soon as you get home from work
– after dinner, instead of watching TV
Okay, so I’ve made the time, what do I do now?
Set a goal for how many words you’re going to write each day. It might be a certain word count, or a certain number of pages, or just ‘more than a couple of sentences’. Your goal is yours to determine.
Staring at the blank page can be a terrifying thing. I know that. There’s a couple of options I can suggest:
- Plan first. I’ve never traditionally been a planner, I was a ‘pantser’ which for those not in the ‘biz, means ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ writer. Don’t do this, if you’re just starting out. Make a plan, use some beat sheets, or write down the ideas you’ve had, what things you want to cover, make a mind map, have something to go on.
- Freewriting. Just start writing with no agenda or judgement. Don’t worry if it’s meaningless drivel or just you writing ‘I don’t know what to write and I feel silly’, you just do it. Write whatever random stream of conciousness comes to you. The point isn’t the output itself, but the act of writing. The more you do this, the easier it becomes, and it opens up something in the creative centers of the brain.
- Two projects at once. This is a controversial one, but one I learned off Lauren Graham. Have two projects on the go and switch between them whenever you get bored. If you write longhand this is easy enough to do, with two books open. If you write online as I do, have two tabs open. In fact, as I write this I am multitasking with my current novel in another tab and a roleplaying game scenario in another. Although that’s more than two projects so… ignore that.
- Recount something. Just write out a dream you had, or an outing you’ve been on, or a memory you treasure. Anything you can just start into and keep going until it’s done.
Whatever you choose to do, do it one day, then make sure you do it again next time.
I can’t give you a magic trick, or foolproof technique which will turn you into a daily habit writer. Because it’s entirely up to you to do. But I want to assure you that if you do want to do it, you can. You just have to want it, make time for it, and then get going.
- If you’re writing online and finding yourself distracted
- Something like 750 words can be a really good way to ‘earn’ badges by updating each day.
- Find a check in buddy or group, where you can check up on each other or encourage as needed
- Carry a notebook, or use a notetaking app to capture ideas as you have them. I can’t tell you how many brilliant ideas I’ve had which are gone forever because I thought I’d remember them on my own
- It’s okay if you miss a day, and actually letting yourself off the hook for a day or longer can be very energising. Don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t perfect. You can always pick it up again when you have the brain space
I hope this has been of some help, please comment if you have any additional tips or ideas !