The Importance of a Writing Habit (And How to Find Yours)

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Without realizing it, I fell into a writing habit the past couple of months. It all started when I changed my weekend morning routine. Rather than turning on the coffee and skimming the news on my phone, I take out a notebook and write for a while. 

You see, this is remarkable to me because I've never been the type to embrace the idea of a writing habit. I've never thought it was for me. It reeked of the type of responsibility reserved for laundry, taxes, and Monday mornings. However, once I began to embrace this habit, I've started to write more. Not only that, my stories are better too. So, I wanted to share a bit of advice on how to find your writing habit.

1) A writing habit doesn't mean you have to write every day.

I sometimes think a lot of us fear that unless we are writing every day, we aren't making progress. As much as I like the idea of writing every day, I just don't have the mental space for it. Now, I guess you can say I do some form of writing semi-daily because I do journal on a regular basis. However, in terms of actual creative writing, that's reserved for the weekends. My mental space is less crowded, and my time is less rushed.

2) Do what works for you and your writing.

So, for me, I usually write on Saturday and Sunday mornings. For you, maybe you have a window Thursday afternoons that are relatively free and clear. Maybe you can't sleep Sunday nights, and you stay up later than usual. Maybe you have a 15-minute break at work that you can finally start taking. Whatever it is, find what works for you. Even if it isn't very long, start embracing this window of your day as a time for your writing.

3) Go to your writing time, even if you aren't sure you have anything to say.

Last weekend, I stopped at a scene in my story thinking I really didn't have much happening, and that I needed more of a direction for my character. She didn't have much of a life surrounding her that made the ongoing problem more complicated. I thought maybe I'd have to table my idea and revisit it later, which would be fine. It's definitely happened before. This weekend, I returned to my story during my writing time and realized there was more to my character than I thought. Now, she lives near downtown, works in a clothing boutique with a boss that swears in French, and likes the barbecue sandwiches from the deli down the street. She enjoys reading British vogue that she most recently purchased wearing sweatpants and her ex-boyfriend's old t-shirt that he forgot to take with him when he moved out. Now, ladies and gentlemen, this is a character. I'll be honest, this is probably the most vivid character I've developed in a while. And I have a gut feeling it's all due to that writing time I've reserved for myself.

4) Stick with it.

I don't know about you but I tend to let even the best of writing habits go by the wayside sometimes. So, this final piece of advice is for me as much as you. As you embrace your new habit and figure out what is working for you, make sure to stick with it. Things in life can happen that derail newfound habits, but if (or when) it does happen, make sure you return to what works. 

Do you have a writing habit? How did you discover what works for you? 


Jeanine DeHoney said...

These are great tips Nicole. I try to write something every day even if it's just a few sentences and writing in the afternoon instead of the morning always seems to work for me.

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Good advice! I especially appreciate do what works for you and your writing. Too often we try to put on the habit of another writer but the fit is all wrong. We each need to find our own habit. And find it again and again and again.

Sioux Roslawski said...

Nicole--I really love #3. Most times I'm surprised. I sometimes sit down and think, "I've got nothin'" but if I just surrender, and sit, the words almost always come.

Renee Roberson said...


I'm so happy to hear you've found a writing practice that works for you! I try to do my gratitude journal each morning but sometimes find myself putting it off until the evening. Since I also write for my day job, I don't really have a designated "writing" time to work on my own things. I need to change that and give myself back the time to write in the zillion notebooks I have lying around!

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