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Posts Tagged ‘habits’

I have habits, some good some bad, which structure my life and determine how I spend my day. For example, every morning before I get out of bed I pray. As soon as I get up, I straighten the covers and pillows so the bed will be ready and welcoming when I need it again. Next I turn on the coffee, feed the cats, and sit down to read my favorite blogs. From that point on, I’m usually at the mercy of whatever life throws my way.

One activity I want to add to my list of habits is writing. Oh, I write every day—lists and letters and reminders—but that’s not the kind of writing that will achieve my dreams. Like millions of others, I aspire to complete a novel. A good novel. To do that, I need to improve my writing habits. There are many changes I could make that would probably help me be more productive, but my research suggests that there are certain habits that are essential for someone who hopes to make writing a profession. I read many suggestions, but the following 4 seem the most crucial to me.

 

1.      Read everyday

Read a wide variety of books, not only for pleasure but also to analyze what works and what doesn’t. Immersing yourself in the written word will add to your knowledge, increase your vocabulary, and improve your understanding of how language is used.

2.      Learn new things

You’ve probably heard the advice to “write what you know.” The wider the range of your experiences, the more realistic you can make your writing. Often it’s the little details that you include that help readers visualize a scene. Enrich your life and acquire a goldmine of information to use in your stories by stepping out of your comfort zone and trying new things.

3.       Make writing a priority

Productive writers work a regular writing routine into their lives. The amount of time devoted to it varies widely, but there needs to be a commitment to writing. Continually placing writing at the bottom of your priority list makes it difficult (or impossible) to achieve success as a writer.

4.      Finish what you start

It’s common to work on more than one project at a time. A problem arises, though, when writers skip from one manuscript to another without ever finishing what they start. Or when they try to attain perfection, or avoid failure, by working on one project for years…and years…and years, and never submit it. At some point you have to say it’s as good as it’s going to get, and send it out.

 

 

Are you satisfied with your writing habits? What helps you be productive, and what interferes with your productivity? Do you make an effort to learn new things in order to add spice and authenticity to your writing?

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I’m seeing a physical therapist for help overcoming some neck pain, and he’s given me some tips that will improve my life—and my writing.

1. The key is balance. Our heads and our butts are supposed to balance each other so the bones in our spine don’t get shoved out of alignment.

Our writing should have balance, too. The beginning and the end should be supported by a healthy middle so the whole story works together perfectly. A strong story structure provides the skeleton on which a great story can be built.

2. Don’t put off doing the things that matter, like taking care of your physical and mental health. Things don’t go away when you ignore them, and they may get worse instead of better.

Many of us put things off for “someday.” Well, someday doesn’t always arrive, or it may arrive too late. If you want to be a writer, don’t miss out on the opportunities that come your way; be prepared to take advantage of them. Have your stories completed and polished, your proposals ready, your elevator pitches perfected, and start sending out queries—NOW.

3. Take responsibility for your own actions. No one can make you exercise or eat healthy food. It’s up to you to learn what you need to do and maintain the discipline to get in the best possible shape.

Don’t depend on others to fix your writing. Learn the basics of good grammar, story structure, characterization, and dialog. Read books, attend workshops, research how to write, and practice writing until you master it. Ask for help when you need it but accept the fact that you are the one who is responsible for what you write and how you write it.

4. Keep your head up and your shoulders straight. Don’t slouch, and never, ever assume the fetal position. This will prevent severe headaches and help keep your spine from deteriorating.

Be proud of what you write. Look people in the eye and don’t cower in fear. So what if you aren’t published yet, or simply write because you enjoy it? As long as you aren’t hurting anyone, you have the right to pursue your dreams.

5. Extremes are not good. Too much exercise breaks down body tissues, and too little exercise lets muscle turn into fat. Both can cause permanent damage.

Don’t be lazy, but don’t work so hard that life passes without you being aware of it. Take time to relax, and to interact with other people. Many activities can enrich your life and your writing, too.

6. Developing healthy habits early can make life less painful, but it’s never too late to start. Even if achieving perfection is out of the question, there is always a chance of improving our lives by changing the habits and activities that hurt us.

Good writing habits can be developed at any age, but the earlier you start the sooner you’ll experience their benefits. Perfection isn’t necessary to lead a happy, productive life, and it isn’t a requirement for a good, marketable story or article. Our goal should be to do the best we can, and that may require a change in attitude as well as in our behavior.

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What habits do you need to work on to improve your writing? Is your daily routine helping or hurting your writing? What’s your favorite way to relax (PG or G rated activities only)? 

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