Joe here: We’re very sorry to say that this is Marcy McKay’s last post as a regular contributor (although, hopefully not her last post on The Write Practice!). She is leaving to spend more time with her family and to get ready for the publication of her novel, which will be released January 2016. Marcy, you will be missed, and I hope we can have you back soon to talk about your novel!

You’ve probably heard this before and know it deep in your gut. It’s not earth shattering news, but people seem to be struggling with amnesia about it lately, so I’m going to repeat myself.

The Only Habit You Need as a Writer

How to Become a Better Writer

If you want to improve as a writer, if you want to grow in your craft, there’s only one way to do so, only one writing habit you need. You must…

Practice.

I love this quote by Joe Bunting here at The Write Practice, “You have to write millions of words no one is ever going to see before you can write the ones that will change someone’s life.”

So true! Especially, if you want to be published, whether it’s fiction, or nonfiction.

Want to be a Writer?

Great, then write.

It’s truly that simple and really that hard. Why do you expect yourself to pen the most amazing novel known to mankind on your first try? You wouldn’t expect a medical student to perform brain surgery on her first day of med school? Would you think someone should be able to perform Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 their first time at the piano? How many hours did Michael Jordan spend to become one of the world’s greatest basketball players?

Each of those individuals had to practice hundreds, if not thousands of hours to excel.

It’s the same formula for writing: practice, practice, practice.

Don’t Let This Obstacle Derail Your Writing Habit

Stop fearing fear.

Guess what? If you’ve just started writing and aren’t very good, that’s both reasonable and to be expected. There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re not a loser, or lame or anything else. Fear is part of the creative process, so stop letting it shut you down.

Self-doubt?

No problem. That’s the number one struggle for all writers. Keep going.

Procrastination?

Figure out what your time wasters are, then stop doing them. Duh.

Perfectionism?

Perfectionism is procrastination on steroids. You’re an overachiever or people pleaser in other areas of your life, too. Don’t be you’re own worst enemy. Let yourself write bad stories, so you can later create great ones. Stop comparing yourself to others. This just hurts you. The only person you should compare yourself to is you… six months ago, one year ago, then five years.

No Time?

Be patient if you work three part-time jobs, care full-time for an ill parent, or a special-needs child.

Your may have to practice at a slower pace because of all your responsibilities. The Muse will bless you for your dedication.

Those folks have legitimate reasons, but the rest of us just have excuses. Stop playing on social media, turn off the TV, quit organizing your office. Drag your lazy butt out of bed earlier, or stay up later and do the work.

Take the blinders off. Face your fears, then conquer them.

How To Practice Writing

Read books or posts about writing, join sites like The Write Practice to learn, take courses online, or go to writing conferences.

Create a regular writing practice. Learn the nuts-and-bolts, then apply them.

Stop thinking about writing and just do it.

You Can Make Writing a Habit

Some people can get caught in paralysis of analysis. Yes, you need to study writing. Yes, you need to research your story, but don’t use this as intellectual procrastination for months, if not years. The only way to learn how to write is to practice.

It’s interesting because you say you want to write, then do most everything you can to avoid it.

Don’t do that. Write.

What change do you need to make to improve your practice? Let me know in the comments section.

PRACTICE

For fifteen minutes, write a story about a writer and his/her practice, but make it someone completely different than you.

Share your story in the comments, if you’d like, and be sure to give your fellow writers some love, too.

Have fun!