The Power of Practice: 12 Habits to Support Your Writing Life
How do you support your writing life? Do your daily habits and routines create space for you to grow as a writer? Are you making time for your passions, and creating sustainable long-term goals? Are you challenging yourself creatively?
Let’s face it, all too often we allow our writing life to take the backseat to everything else. But practice makes perfect, which is why we’ve nailed down twelve daily habits that you can use to help you get on track.
Whatever your level of woo-woo, meditation is factually good for you, mind, body, and soul. Just ten minutes of meditation in your morning or evening can dramatically lower your feelings of self-doubt, will assist in your mental clarity and focus, and allow you to come to your desk clear-headed, calm, and way less open for distraction.
When you focus your thoughts on what you want to achieve, you’re much more likely to find it. Whether you’re seeking new opportunities, want to reach milestones, or realize massive, dreamy goals, manifestation will get you consistently closer. Set aside a few minutes in the morning—after your meditation, for example—to really envision your goals. What does this ideal life you’re working towards look like, feel like, smell like?! It might sound extreme, but the more tangible it is for you, the more you’ll strive for it.
Yes, this one might have you feeling like you’re in detention, but we promise it’s WORTH IT. At the beginning of your day, pick a statement that frames a challenge you’re having in a positive way and write it out thirty times. For instance, if you’re a freelancer who’s been having issues with unreliable clients lately, your affirmation might be Solvent clients love to pay me! (Lol.) As a writer, your affirmation might look like I can’t wait to complete 10,000 words this week! or Writing brings me joy. I will dedicate thirty minutes per day to writing, or even simply I am a writer. Whatever it is you need to hear, or whatever you are feeling self-doubty about, reframe it and write it out for the sake of your subconscious. She’s a hard worker, and she will get right-the-f*ck to work on actualizing that for you.
If you read our recent post, “7 Writing Habits of Select Literary Greats” you might recall that journalling has been proven to be a particularly useful habit amongst writers. Not only is it a great tool for self-reflection (and manifestation), but it’s also a useful practice space: a no-stress, judgment-free zone that allows you to experiment away from your bigger projects and without the pressure that they can often present. If you’re a true journalling newbie, set aside five minutes before bed to jot down some notes about the day. Focus on any key events, how you’re feeling about them and life in general, and any project-related ideas you’ve been exploring lately.
Oftentimes we’re so consumed with the feeling that we should be writing that we forget to set aside time to pick up a book and appreciate others’ writing. Being an active reader is one of the best ways to improve your writing—and get into a creative headspace. Reading is key to understanding the fundamental mechanics of writing and teaches you narrative, plot, style, and all the rest by osmosis—there’s your subconscious at it again—which you can later implement in your work. Stuck on your manuscript? Start reading something you admire that may have influenced or impressed upon your project and get inspired!
Cut Out Time-Sucking Bad Habits
Time-sucking bad habits like regular TV-watching, one-too-many happy hours, and scrolling through your phone are just some of the ways we lose our valuable time. The best way to cut out these bad habits is by being aware of them; take a look at the screen-time feature on your phone and set yourself daily time limit goals. Are you Netflix addict? Watch just one episode of your favourite show every night instead of, like, five. It’ll last longer. We aren’t saying you should eliminate your pleasures/guilty habits, just that it’s healthy for you and your writing life to recognize that if you want to maximize your time, that time has to come from elsewhere—and there’s probably more of it around than you realize.
Weekly Writing Date
We truly believe in scheduling time for yourself, no matter how hectic your schedule gets. If you’re finding that you struggle to stay focused at home, try setting aside a few hours each week for a solo writing date. Head to a coffee shop before work, or a bar or the beach one evening a week, and commit to writing the entire time you’re there. There’s no rule that says you can’t get a little buzzed while you write, and why not do something else you enjoy while writing? Set your phone to night mode and put your headphones on, or keep ‘em off and engage with the characters and conversations around you. Go out and find joy in your practice, whatever that looks like for you.
Set Attainable Writing/Word Count Goals
Setting attainable writing and word count goals is key if you’re working towards a larger project like a novel. By dividing what seems like a completely impossible goal into smaller, way more digestible parts, you’ll be able to work steadily without getting overwhelmed. We recommend setting monthly goals: it’s just enough time to make some serious headway, but not long enough that you lose sight of your goal entirely. The key here is to make it attainable; if you tell yourself that you’re going to write 100,000 words in one month when you’ve only ever written a tenth of that in that time, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Assess your writing habits and plan for success!
Monthly/Seasonal Submissions to a Publication
If you’re looking to eventually land a book deal, you need to be building your writing résumé by getting published in smaller publications. Set a submission goal for yourself each quarter, and then scour literary magazine websites, Instagram, and Twitter for contests and open submission announcements. Most literary magazines are open for submissions for a few months out of the year, so create a calendar that will help you keep track of where to submit and when. Join their newsletters so you’ll be the first to know when a new contest or call for submissions arrives, and you’ll have plenty of time to prepare for it. Unsure of where to submit your work? Check out our blog post, “How to Submit Your Writing to the Right Places” for helpful tips!
Hire a Writing Coach
If you know where you would like to be but are struggling to get there, a writing coach might be just the thing you need. Not only is a writing coach an amazing wealth of information in all things editing, publishing, and marketing, but also a confidant—someone who understands that every writer has a unique relationship to their craft and will work with you to find your best way forward. If you’re looking for a holistic, therapeutic writing coach to help you strike a balance between your busy lifestyle and your writing goals, check out our coaching page for our current bundles and work one-on-one with Kate to track down those book dreamz.
Connect With Your Writing Community
Because writing tends to be a solitary pursuit, making time to get out of the house and involve yourself in your local writing community is a worthwhile habit. Try to attend a book launch or a reading, or grab a coffee with a fellow writer friend once a month. It can be invigorating to surround yourself with people who face similar challenges and to see what other writers are pursuing.
Check-In on Yourself
Prioritizing your writing life is no easy feat, which is why it’s so important to assess your progress. Are your monthly writing goals being met? Have you fallen into any new time-sucking bad habits? Are you making real headway? Are you feeling burnt-out? From what? Like any long-term goal, you’re bound to have to make adjustments as you learn more about yourself as a writer—it’s all part of the process! Remember, writing is a practice, just like yoga, meditation, or taking part in a staring contest—there is no perfect, only incremental growth, unforeseen challenges, and the satisfaction of committing to it anyway, even when it’s hard.
Be real with yourself, be kind to yourself, put in the work—you’re doing great!
For writers w. backbone.