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This Simple Writing Habit Changed My Life

I’m often asked,”How did you become a writer? Did you always dream about being a writer as a kid? How did you actually make it happen?”

If you’ve ever wanted to become a writer, today I want to share my personal experience of becoming a writer. I especially want to explore the writing habits I had to develop to become a professional writer. The most important habit required of a writer might surprise you.

This Simple Writing Habit Changed My Life

I first decided I wanted to become a writer in high school. I was reading a novel, A Tale of Two Cities, and thought, Wouldn’t it be great to do this all the time? To just hang out with your imaginary friends and visit exotic places in your mind all day? It would be like getting to read books for a career… except you’d be making them!

If only it were that easy.

How You Actually Become a Writer

I wanted to be a writer. I even studied writing in college. But I wasn’t doing the anything that would make me a writer. I was learning about writing. I was reading about writers. But I wasn’t writing.

After interacting with thousands of aspiring writers over the last five years, here’s what I’ve learned:

The Habits of Successful Writers

As important as writing is, it was the habit of publishing that changed my life.

As I mentioned, I wanted to be a writer, but I wasn’t writing. What changed was that I started publishing one article on my blog every day.

Publishing became my motivation to write. I found that I loved it. I loved sharing my work with the world. I loved the rush of being known.

To keep up with my publishing schedule, I of course had to write more. Soon, I was making steps toward writing more professionally.

I began freelancing for a local magazine, writing concert reviews and news features. I began becoming known as “the writer,” by my friends and family. Not long afterward, I got my first full-time, professional writing job.

It wasn’t until I got into the habit of publishing that I started to take writing seriously and make steps toward becoming a writer.

What Can You Publish?

When you breathe in you must breathe out. If you write you must publish. These two go together.

If you don’t write, you will suffocate. If you don’t publish, you will lose your drive.

What can you publish today?

Publishing doesn’t have to look like writing a book proposal, getting an agent, signing with a publishing company, and selling your book in bookstores.

Publishing can look like:

  • Reading your story to a friend or family member
  • Emailing a poem to a loved one
  • Posting an article on your blog
  • Publishing your story as a Facebook note

It doesn’t have to be “official” or groundbreaking. You don’t need permission from a publisher or a literary magazine. Publishing can simply be sharing your writing with others.

Do you have someone you could share your writing with today? 

Take Back Your Writing Time

Do you ever feel like you’re just too busy to make writing a habit? Are you ever afraid you will never be able to make writing a priority?

On Thursday, I’m going to be hosting a webinar with my friend Dan Blank sharing three simple actions you can do to take back your creative time.

If you want to spend more time creating but just don’t feel like you have time, this webinar is for you.

Sign up for the webinar, Take Back Your Creative Time, here »

Dan and I have an important message to share about your writing habits (or lack thereof). This is especially necessary as our lives become increasingly chaotic and distracted.

This webinar could change your writing life. I hope you’ll sign up now.

In the webinar, we’ll also be talking about a new class Dan is teaching called Fearless Work, which will walk you through a process to increase the creative output of even the busiest among us. It’s a powerful class, and I’m excited to tell you more about it.

See you soon!

Do you struggle creating and maintaining a writing habit? Let me know in the comments section.

PRACTICE

Today, publish a writing piece that’s important to you. You may choose to publish it on your blog, share it with a friend, or even print it out and read it to someone you care about. If you have to write something first, even better. However, don’t let this day go by without publishing something important to you.

Once you publish, let us know how you published it in the comments section (and if you published on your blog, include the URL).

And don’t forget: have fun!

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).

  • Hetie Burt

    Great piece! I struggle with finding the time to write. When I manage to chunk away some writing time, it is highly productive and reminds me why I love writing. Looking forward to the webinar.

    • LilianGardner

      Same here.

    • That’s great, Hetie. Yes, I think this webinar will be a huge help for you.

  • Christine

    It-Itis, the Fudge Virus

    My latest (important?) musing on writing:

    One day a few weeks back, my husband and I both read a sentence but each took a different understanding from what was said. I said the meaning wasn’t clear; he said it was perfectly clear. Later I realized that I’d misunderstood what the “it” referred to. I reread the sentence and BINGO! Clarity.

    I turned to one of my favorite non-fiction writers, Phillip Yancey. This man is a pro — or his editors are — at eliminating confusion. I’ve noticed before that “it” doesn’t appear often in his pages, so I opened one of his books, searched through four pages, and found four its. One. Per. Page.

    It-itis usually appears when the sentence has a main clause and a subordinate clause or two. We writers have a tendency to start one or both of these with it, assuming the referral is clear. But is it? However, the reader may be confused as to what “it” actually refers to.

    For example:
    This sweater goes well with your outfit, seeing it has such colorful red buttons.
    It the sweater has red buttons, or it the outfit?

    More examples:
    1) As a teen I thought about becoming a teacher, or maybe a coach, but I dropped it. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do with my life anyway, rather it became another step on the road to the one I finally chose: working with deaf-blind students.
    Revised:
    As a teen I thought about becoming a teacher, or maybe a coach, but I dropped the idea. Teaching (or coaching, or both) wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do with my life anyway, rather the idea of instructing young people became another step on the road to the career I finally chose: working with deaf-blind students.

    2) If he’d wanted me to know about it, he’d have told me instead of clamming up. Instead it became a source of irritation between us until it happened that he spilled it to my brother one day when they were going at it over some minor point.
    What became a source of irritation, the It he was withholding or his clamming up?
    Revised:
    If he’d wanted me to know the facts, he’d have told me instead of remaining silent. Instead his silence about the matter became a source of irritation between us until I found out one day when he spilled the truth to my brother when they were going arguing over some minor point.

    3) If the writer doesn’t have e-mail and wants to discuss the edits by phone we can work with it.
    Work with what? The phone, the edits, the manuscript?
    Revised:
    If the writer doesn’t have e-mail and rather wants to discuss her edits by phone we can work with her this way.

    • This is definitely important, Christine. The word “it” is often vague. Be specific! Thank you for sharing this great feedback.

      • Christine

        Perhaps I’m preaching to the choir but I’ve been pondering this lately, having seen “it” so often in some books.

  • Cynthia Frazier Buck

    I published a post on my blog today. It’s someth I wrote a while back, but never showed to anyone.

    Disclaimer: I know nothing about poetry. Less than nothing, in fact. I am not a poet. I very rarely write a poem. Only when I am inspired.

    Here’s the link:
    https://cynthiafrazierbuck.wordpress.com/2015/09/04/beautifulnot-beautiful/

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  • Great post, Joe. Very true words. I often publish online and it’s so wonderful to get instant feedback on my work. I’ve grown a lot that way. Sense it’s a little late in the day for me to publish something on my blog I chose a short piece to post here. It’s the (possible) first paragraph of a story that I haven’t quite fleshed out yet. I was just kind of playing around when I wrote it.

    There was not a sound in the apartment. Not the whir of a fan overhead. Not the sound of my mothers deep, rhythmic breaths beside me. Not even the ticking of a clock. It was the first time I had to endure such silence and loneliness in years, and my imagination filled in the gaps with fear. Over what I had no idea. There was no monster in the closet, no murderer in the kitchen, no alligator under the bed. None the less, I pulled the comforter tighter around my slightly quivering body and tried for the thousandth time that night to get to sleep.

    For the thousandth time I failed.

    • LilianGardner

      An awesome beginning. I’d love to read the whole story.
      Don’t let it go, Katherine, keep writing until it’s finished, and when you publish, please let me know.

      • Haha, thanks. It’s actually a book idea so it would probably take years to complete, but if it ever comes full circle (and if I remember) I’ll let you know. 🙂

    • Very good Katherine! You did a great job of creating dramatic tension!

  • Orlando José Alejos

    During those rare days that I actually write something, I usually publish in either one of 3 places: a) A page I usually go to read and write stories, which offer s a lot of accuarate feedback.b) A facebook group from a super heroes course, which also gives me some honest and good feedback c) I show it to my brother d) I write something for college, so I get ffedback on it wheter I like it or not. But, I always enjoy when I do get to write and receive constructive criticism, because I feel Like I’m actually improving(I have read some past works, so I know I have improved some) and I have lots of funs writing.

    • Those are four great ways to “publish,” Orlando! Good for you to seek that kind of feedback.

  • Ian Chandler

    Love the post, Joe. I like the alternative takes on publishing using social media and even reading. Sharing is key. (By the way, I’ve shared something with you.)

    • You bet, Ian. And thanks for the ping about your email. I checked it out and replied!

  • Hey Joe. I’m a day late but just published a piece that means something to me. It’s a recap of my experience at the Tribe Conference: http://storyandcraft.net/i-survived-the-tribe-conference-of-2015/

    • Awesome recap, David. Thank you for sharing that and breaking down the awesome weekend!

  • Rachel Evelyn Nichols

    Thanks Joe. I plan on publishing my first novel on wattpad.com in serial form.

  • Great piece. Our (writers association) guest blogger last week wrote on “waiting for inspiration” and this went so nicely that I posted it on our association Facebook page – St. Davids Christian Writers’ Association. I think I’ll tweet it as well.

  • Bhaswati

    Truly useful and inspiring. Other than those who are too busy or lazy to make writing a routine or to publish there are another breed , the perpetual editor. What if even if I can finish a piece in respectable time, I always hanker for that extra time to work on it – to make it a little better and then some more extra time to …. I am my worst critic and the hardest person to please. No writing is good enough and after the 7th revision the 3rd edit seems best. But that’s just for tonight. Tomorrow is another day.When it comes to publishing no name is good enough for my blog and no topic is apt enough for the first post.
    However, your article helped me a lot to overcome this. Now I want to start my blog asap.Corrections can wait. Thanks.

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  • Hey Joe! It’s been a long time. My favorite sentence in this entire post is “When you breathe in you must breathe out. If you write you must publish.”

    Right. That’s two sentences. Point is, I published my comment. 🙂

  • Aala Elsadig

    I thought the publishing would help me long ago, so I started sharing my writing in this writing community called “wattpad”, but after a while, I stopped. Apparently publishing and sharing didn’t help me a lot. It only made me freaked out of critics, so I decided to stop that and write secretly. I think we’re quite opposites, Joe. Publishing and sharing only made me lose my drive. I’m fine now when a lot of people I know think that I stopped writing.

  • I am so relieved to read that publishing got you into writing more seriously because it is the path I’m on right now. I decided it was time to become more involved with my blog and create a schedule that would allow me to write on a constant basis and now I am becoming more and more enthusiast with the idea of keep on writing on my fictions. But I don’t want to rush things. First I made a deal (with myself) to be on schedule for a month with my blog and then, create a schedule for my work of fiction and getting more and more involved with writing with a flow that suits me and satisfy my writing urges.

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  • Lady I

    I love this article. Especially when I recently try to figure out how many times to publish a week. The truth is I do write more the more I know I have to publish. Thank you.

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