A new year means new resolutions. While your health and social life are important, have you taken time to consider your craft? Your writing habits need as much improvement as any other area of your life, and it pays to take some time to address them.
Let’s start with the absolute basics. Writing takes time. Therefore, if you really want to write, you really need to set aside dedicated writing time. There is no clever way around this fact, and if you want to finish your writing projects, you need to block out regular times – every day – for your work. Even dedicating 15 minutes a day will help you improve your writing. If you already have a set writing time, try adding five to ten minutes. Push yourself to do more, and give your writing the time it deserves.
Very few people truly enjoy journaling, but that doesn’t diminish its usefulness. Contrary to what your high school English teacher taught you, journaling isn’t just about thoughts, feelings, and a record of your impressions and actions throughout the day. Journals can be as imaginative or soulless as you like. They don’t need to address your whole life, either.
A writer’s journal can focus solely on the act of writing itself. List how many words you dedicated to the page, where you wrote, how long you wrote, etc. Take note of distractions that interrupted your flow and brainstorm ways to avoid them. If you have ideas for later in the story as you’re working, jot them down in your journal so you don’t lose them or lose the pace of the scene you’re already crafting.
Journaling can help you identify your distractions, but it won’t remove them automatically. That requires even more work on your part. To start a year of new writing habits on the right foot, you need to spot and address your weaknesses. Take some time to journal first. After about a week, sit down and analyze your biggest creative and practical obstacles.
Do you suffer from a particularly aggressive inner editor? Experiment with mindfulness, tea, or even talking to a supportive friend to help you limit its impact. Are your distractions coming from your environment? Try turning off WiFi so you don’t check social media, writing in a different room, or organizing a time when your partner or friend can watch the kids while you write. No matter how big or pervasive your distraction may be, if you want to overcome it, you can.
Try Something New
Everyone has their favorite genres, tones, and themes. That doesn’t mean you can’t write anything else. Your best work may be the result of a thought experiment, a writing exercise, or a challenge from a fellow writer. To grow as a writer, you need to stretch your skills. This year, take time to try new things in your prose. You’ll be glad you did.
This year, we suggest you aim to be the best writer you can be. Which habits will you change this year? Any of these suggestions will help improve your writing, but they will do the most good if implemented together.