5 Hacks to Create a Good Writing Habit

If you want to find more time to do the work that matters most to you, we’re partnering with Dan Blank to launch a class exclusively for Write Practice members. Enrollment closes Tuesday September 16, so sign up now »

One would-be writer asked me recently, “How do you stick with your writing plans for more than a week?” It’s a great question, and one that I asked myself for about a decade as I slowly made my way from wannabe writer to full-time writer.

How do you create a consistent writing habit? Even when you’re busy? Even when you lose your motivation to write?

5 Hacks to Create a Good Writing Habit

So many people struggle with this, not just writers but everyone trying to do creative work, whether it’s painting, acting, songwriting, or writing novels.

However, this question is also incredibly important because your ability to make your passion a habit is the most important key to your success in that field.

How do you make writing a habit?

Are You Too Busy to Write?

Developing a consistent writing habit is even harder because if you’re like me, you’re busy. Very busy.

Most of the aspiring writers I talk to claim that they’re just too busy to write, or at least too busy to write consistently. Sound familiar?

While you know you should be writing there are so many other SHOULDs:

  • You should spend more time exercising
  • You should drink more water
  • You should spend more time doing schoolwork
  • You should spend more time with your family
  • You should be putting more hours in at your job
  • You should floss and brush your teeth longer
  • You should learn a second language
  • You should call your mother more often

And a thousand more shoulds.

That doesn’t leave much room for writing. How, then, do you make room for your writing in the midst of all these other important things you should be doing?

Are You Too Overwhelmed to Write?

Dan Blank says this, which I think is brilliant:

No Focus = Overwhelm

If you aren’t clear about focusing on your top goals, you will easily become overwhelmed.

There will always be too many shoulds. If you’re not very careful about choosing the goals that are most important to you, you will be overwhelmed by all the things you feel like you should be doing.

Ask yourself, What do I really want?

Is writing every day really one of those things your top goals?

It’s okay if it’s not. Perhaps writing only ranks tenth on your list, behind family, schoolwork, your health, and work.

But if writing consistently is toward the top of your list, you need decide what else can be let go.

Get clear on your focus, say no to the things that are less important, and then follow through.

Ready to start your daily writing habit? Read on!

5 Hacks to Create Your Writing Habit

How do you create a writing habit? Here are five more tips, many of which I learned from Dan Blank (learn more this subject and about the class he’s teaching exclusively for Write Practice members).

1. Write for Just Fifteen Minutes

I’ve found that professional writers rarely write for more than five or so hours a day. Why? Because writing is mentally exhausting!

However, this also means you can get a surprisingly amount done in a short amount of time.

To keep yourself focused as you write, consider writing with a timer.

Could you start your writing habit with one fifteen-minute story per day?

2. Stop checking email!

Too many of us use email as a to do list instead of using a to do list as a to do list. This leaves us reacting to life rather than living it according to goals.

Reaction is the opposite of creating. That’s why it’s so difficult to write when you’re checking email every five minutes.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t check email. Just don’t do it during your daily writing time.

3. Lower Your Expectations (for Now)

It takes practice, a lot of time, and some luck, to write a great story. Settle for a story (for now).

When you sit down to write your first story, it might not be very good. But later, you’ll rewrite. Then perhaps you’ll rewrite it again after that. Maybe you’ll rewrite it one more time, and afterward the story will be remarkably better than it was on your first, quick draft.

4. Make It Social

Humans are social creatures, and, as Dan Blank says, by making writing a social experience you’ll find more enjoyment in it and will be more likely to keep it up.

How do you make writing social? Here are a few ideas:

  • Make friends with other writers, whether through this community, by taking a writing class, or joining a local critique group
  • Publish your writing, whether that means printing out a story and giving it to a friend, posting it on your blog, or self-publishing your book
  • Throw a party for your fellow writers. Who doesn’t love a great soirée with interesting people?
  • Go to a writing conference to learn more about the craft and connect with other writers

Don’t buy into the myth that writers are solitary creatures who lock themselves in the attic to slave on their masterpiece. Every great writer I’ve ever studied has had a close network of other writers and creative people who would inspire, encourage, and support them.

5. Celebrate Progress

Too many of my friends—people who have written books, gotten published, even made the bestseller’s list—stop celebrating how far they’ve come.

These were people who struggled with the same problems you struggle with: not enough time to write, not being able to make writing a habit, feeling overwhelmed by all the other things they SHOULD be doing. They came so far, and yet they’re often too eager to move on to the next goal to celebrate their progress enough.

If you write today, you should feel proud and celebrate your progress.

If you’ve written every day for the last five years, you should feel proud and celebrate.

If you want to cement writing as a habit in your life, reward yourself each time you do it, celebrating the fact you are making progress, the fact that you are creating, celebrate that you are writing.

Do You Dream of Doing More Creative Work?

Most of us want to live more creative, more meaningful lives, but actually finding time to do creative work often seems like an impossible challenge.

That’s why yesterday we opened a writing class in partnership with Dan Blank to help you find more time to do the creative work that matters most to you.

Fearless Work

The class is called Fearless Work, and it’s perfect for anyone interested in writing more and making their writing a bigger priority in their life. I highly recommend it.

Also, if you sign up for Fearless Work you’ll get an exclusive lesson with me about how I found time for my writing when I was getting started.

Find more time to do the work that matters most to you, and sign up for Fearless Work. Enrollment closes Tuesday September 15 at midnight, so sign up now »

Hope to see you in the class!

Do you struggle creating a consistent writing habit? What hacks have you used to make writing a habit? Let me know in the comments section.

PRACTICE

Write a story for fifteen minutes today. When your time is finished, make it social by posting your practice in the comments section. And if you post, please be sure to leave feedback for your fellow writers.

Happy writing, and don’t forget to celebrate your progress!

About Joe Bunting

Joe Bunting is a writer and entrepreneur. He is the author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller Let's Write a Short Story! and the co-founder of Story Cartel. You can follow him on Twitter (@joebunting).

  • juanita couch

    It may not be the best way but I have to get started early and work as long as I can and then I might be interrupted so I have to leave and come back. I probably put in a good four or five hours total per day. Right now my main hack is illustrating a first time book writer for a children’s book for another writer. I have got a lot of hours involved in meeting her expectations and have drawn the same pictures three times over to get them just right. Being a new writer I feel she has reached for the stars without realizing they are a long ways off.

  • Christine

    I’ve written a story, my belated reply to a WP Daily Prompt, but it took me 45 minutes. Please pardon my exceeding the time limit.

    “Old Mother Hubbard went to her cupboard to get her poor dog a bone
    but when she got there, the cupboard was bare…”
    except for a small bag of pot barley, a chunk of salt, and a bit of parsley.

    She looked sadly down at her hound and shook her head. “Sorry, old Jack. Only enough for one last pot of barley broth for us. No meat.” A tear trickled down her cheek. The dog sensed the situation and hung his head in despair.

    A sharp rapping on the door made her jump. “Whoever could that be?” Poor, emaciated Jack gave a few brave barks and wobbled over to the door—and there he plopped down, too weak to stand.

    With her apron she wiped away her tears. “Maybe it’s someone bringing a poor widow a bite to eat, eh Jack. Maybe.” She unbolted the door and opened it a crack.

    The finely dressed gentleman standing there removed his top hat with a flourish. “Good morning, Mrs Hubbard.”

    Mother Hubbard gasped. “Ebenezer Scrooge!” But she barely recognized him. The man was actually smiling—something she’d never seen him do in all the years she’d passed him on the street. She visited his office every month to pay the rent on her tiny hovel, and had gotten a glimpse of his sour face on occasion. But she’d never seen him smile.

    Jack managed to rise to his feet and walk over to the man, sniffing at his shoes, then at the bag he held in his hand.

    “Indeed it is I.”

    The old lady winced. In her penury she had nothing with which to pay her rent, so she’d stopped her landlord on the street as he passed and pleaded with him not to evict her.

    His reply was curt. “If you can’t pay your rent, there are others who can. Have the money here by due date or face eviction.”

    “So you’ve come in person to order me out, Mr. Scrooge?” She summoned up her courage and looked him right in the eye. Mother Hubbard had her dignity; she wasn’t going to grovel for this greedy grasping villain.

    “No, Madam, not at all. I’ve come to make amends for treating you so poorly last week, Mrs. Hubbard. You see, I’ve had a…shall we say, a miraculous…change of heart.”

    Mother Hubbard was speechless. She could see by his countenance that something amazing had happened. Why he looked almost…kindly!

    Jack was sniffing eagerly at the bag in Scrooge’s hand; Mother Hubbard eyed it now herself. It looked rather bloody.

    Scrooge held the sack out to her. Here you go, Mrs. Hubbard. I’ve brought you two chickens to cook for your Christmas dinner. And I’ve left orders at the grocer; they’ll be sending around a food hamper on Monday.”

    Mother Hubbard, not sure if she was hallucinating all this, took the sack and peered inside. Sure enough, from what she could see it did indeed contain two chickens. “How can I ever thank you, Mr. Scrooge?” she stammered.

    “And you needn’t worry about your rent money, either, Mrs. Hubbard. I’ve given instructions for Bob Cratchett to mark your account paid in full for the next year. I have enough money; I don’t need yours.”

    Mother Hubbard’s mouth dropped open, but not a word came out. Scrooge, however, didn’t seem to need more thanks. He tipped his hat again and bid her good day, a merry twinkle in his eye. Then he walked away, stepping lively.

    All in a daze, Mother Hubbard closed the door. She looked at the sack, then at jack, and keeled over in a faint. By the time she came to, Jack had already eaten two drumsticks.

    • Aoife Keegan

      I’m delighted that Jack perked up enough to gobble two drumsticks! I can see his tail wagging away happily…

    • Nice mashup of two or three different classic stories, Christine. It would be interesting to see more of this story from Mother Hubbard’s perspective.

      • Christine

        I had a much longer story in mind, with Scrooge hiring Mother Hubbard as his housekeeping supervisor 🙂 but it wouldn’t all fit here. I’ll likely post it on my blog sometime soon.
        Perhaps spending time on these irrelevant little tales is why I never get any “real writing” done? 🙂

  • Aoife Keegan

    Buoyed by the question, “how about we go shopping for new shoes for you today?” I skipped out to the car. Right sneaker in hand, I hovered from shelf to shelf flitting from lace-ups to mules to boots. Each one got it’s chance before the mirror as I appraised each factor: comfort, colour, style. I knew as soon as I slipped them on. The satisfying sigh said it all: this is the pair!

    Grinning big and silly I made for the cash register. The cashier checked each shoe, “both size 6, always good to double check! Would you like the box?” Looking over my shoulder, my breath caught in my chest as my eyes squinched in the direction of the door, “where is she going?”

    Eyes widening before I briefly shut them, my brain whirred past the realisation that she hadn’t explicitly offered to buy the shoes for me and onto the sobering truth that the bill was all mine. I clenched my teeth and smiled at the waiting cashier, “let’s try this card.”

    • This is a good scene of a very awkward situation! I want to know more, though, who is the friend/family member who ditched her, who is the main character and why is she (I’m assuming it’s a she although it’s obviously not specified) so excited about shoe shopping, why did the friend/family member ditch her at all? So many questions! 🙂

      Very fun to see your writing, Aoife. I hope all is well with you in Dublin!

      • Aoife Keegan

        It’s autobiographical! I thought my Mum was going to buy me shoes so that I didn’t have to spend money I needed for a trip to Germany this month. I ended up buying them myself to avoid making a scene and then the next day a ministry partner gave me a one off donation.

        Thank you for the questions, helps me to step back from my writing and see what kind of context the reader may need.

        Life in Dublin is good thanks! Love seeing pics of you with your wife and kids on Facebook!

  • GloomyMermaid

    The Gloomy Mermaid

    At
    the very deepest segment of the ocean, was an exquisitely appealing kingdom of
    half-human creatures that swam with exquisite flipping tails. These creatures
    were named: “Mermaids.” The kingdom was ruled by a warm-hearted king.
    The fellow mermaids respected the king’s commands as much as they loved him.
    And so they sent their sons to battle the feared beast that slitters the dark
    caves every now and then.

    The king had two
    beautiful twin daughters. Both were so-very alike that the others couldn’t tell
    the difference there was between the two. The only difference they had was that
    both had different qualities. Blossom was radiant and an open book, while on
    the other hand, Bloom was the opposite. Bloom was sorrowful in a stealthy way.
    She’d hide from everyone and shut them out.

    One night, the
    soldiers of the kingdom brought honor to the king and defeated the enraging
    monster that has been attempting to destroy the kingdom. They kept the monster
    locked and hidden, in the deepest dungeons of the castle. This enlightened so
    much that the King went and declared a feast for all on that night. The gates
    were opened and the mermaids swarmed inside, laughs and smiles were shared.

    Until, the prince of
    another wealthy kingdom disembarked the party and asked to marry one of his
    daughters. The king then appointed both daughters to let the prince select his
    soon-to-be bride.

    Bloom was delighted;
    she was hopeful that the prince would choose her. She closed her soft hands
    into a rocklike fist and breathed heavily in nervousness. The prince examined
    both ladies and after awhile, he had finally come up with who he wanted to
    offer a hand in marriage. He walked towards Bloom and said,

    “You are rare. You’re
    like a flower blooming on the dessert. But I’m afraid I seek for something
    else. I seek for someone already appeased. Are you sorrowful my lady?” The
    prince asked in curiosity.

    She blinked.

    She cleared her
    throat to speak but she couldn’t find her voice. So she remained silent, her
    arms shaking and her eyes red.

    The prince and
    Blossom went away in a carriage.

    The king gave her a
    sour face and said,

    “You will never be
    good enough. You will stay here your entire life if you remain stolid.” He
    scowled and Bloom sped towards her room.

    That night, bloom was
    so enraged that she snuck away, flipped her tail until she couldn’t handle it
    anymore. She swam to the dungeon and found the monster weeping.

    “Why are you weeping?”
    Bloom asked,

    “Go away.” The monster
    said, in a grim voice.

    But Bloom chose to
    stay, and so she stayed until dusk. Finally, the monster gave up and told Bloom
    her story. Bloom felt moved, that she knew she wasn’t alone – because the
    monster too, was once a beautiful maiden that was also dejected.

    She thought that the
    monster did not deserve any of the punishments she suffered today and so she
    freed her.

    The monster did not
    go back to the kingdom ever again, many people wonder who freed her but never
    did find out the answer.

    Every now and then,
    Bloom would dive to the surface.

    She wept like there
    was no tomorrow, and soared with all her might. She spun vigorously, her head
    swirling. She mourned with the orb of night as she stabbed herself with her
    bony fists, blaming herself for never being good enough – because that night,
    something in her changed. She found herself. She went from fragile to firm. Her
    soft heart turned as hard as a rock. And there she found her inner self. From
    Bloom, to Gloom.
    —–
    Finished it at 16 minutes and 45 seconds! 😀

    • Wow, Gloomy Mermaid. You’re fast! This is a fantastic fairy tale. Perhaps the framework for something much longer, a novella or a novel?

    • Noor Ali

      interesting ! It was very nice to read a fairy tale after a long time.
      I got a bit confuse (for a while) that king gave her a sour face.
      Second thing,if Bloom freed the monster that night so how can you say that she turned from a soft hearted to a hard one.
      Overall it was great 🙂

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