Are you daydreaming about turning your idea into a novel? Your idea can easily turn into a reality by simply developing good writing habits. In this piece, we’ll show you how to get started, gain clarity over your writing sessions and what one thing you must avoid at all costs if you want to reach your writing goals.
James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, says it takes 66 days for a habit to form. So, writing should take about 66 days to become as natural as brushing your teeth.
But 66 days seems like a long time when you're just starting. To keep yourself motivated, we recommend keeping a log of your writing journey with a tracker--this could take the form of a tracking app, a bullet journal or a scrap of paper.
Don’t worry if you miss a day (because of, you know, life); the page will still be there tomorrow.
Getting Started Quicker
Shortcut the development of your writing by stacking it with something you already do every day. For instance, once you’ve had your morning coffee, watered the plants or made your to-do list, start writing.
Soon, your chosen daily habit and the act of writing will become linked. And voila, writing is now part of your everyday routine.
Sidenote: notice how the daily habits mentioned are those we tend to do in the morning. This is no coincidence. To borrow a phrase from personal financing, it’s important to pay yourself first. Spend time writing as soon as possible; this makes it more likely that the writing will get done.
Setting a Word Count
Set the bar low.
Like 250 words a day low.
In 66 days, you’ll have 16,500 words.
In a year, you’ll have 91,000 words. That’s the average length of a first novel.
Choose a daily word count that you can hit--even on a bad day--so you and your writing practice don’t burn out.
Even the most seasoned writers are easily spooked by the blank page. But you can overcome this fear by deciding what you’re going to write about beforehand. Are you going to reimagine the opening image? Work on that wobbly middle bit? Or have you had a shiny new idea you want to flesh out? Showing up with an intention will give your session direction and a clear endpoint.
It’s helpful to end each writing session with an idea of what happens next--see our post on writing a plot for more details. Always spark your next writing session by leaving a note about what you will write about next.
Avoid This at All Costs
Writing can be challenging, frustrating and downright dull at times. Trying to avoid these feelings by doom scrolling, reading craft books or searching online for writing tips (thank you for reading this far, though) is tempting. We know. The one thing you should avoid at all costs while developing a writing habit is giving in to mindless distractions.
You’ve already put the work into:
Why throw all this away on a Tiktok binge?
If you feel yourself neglecting your work during your writing session, Neil Gaiman reminds us that:
“You don’t have to write. You have permission to not write, but you don’t have permission to do anything else.”
Sometimes the words don’t show up, but you did, fully. That’s what counts. Keep showing up, and the words will follow.