Different habits resonate with different personalities, and many of us have to structure our writing life around day jobs, families, or other responsibilities. There is no one size fits all bit of writing advice that works for everyone. Still, best practices are called such for a reason.
If you’re planning to finally write that book in 2020, here are some habits I consider best practices that might help you make it to the finish line. You’ll probably notice these aren’t specific, but rather they’re broad suggestions to promote productivity, creativity, and forward progress.
Commit to regular writing habits.
For some of us, this means writing every day. But for many people, that just isn’t realistic. Instead, determine what kind of writing rhythm works in your life, and then protect that time fiercely. If writing your novel or short story is truly a priority, you have to commit to a regular habit. Here are some suggestions:
- Get up 30 minutes earlier than usual. Use that time over coffee in a quiet house. Even if you only have 20 or 30 minutes to work, you’ll make steady progress over time.
- Use a lunch break, or some kind of break during the work day for writing. Find a quiet space and dive back into your fictional world for a little while. Again, it may not be much time, but you’ll make progress.
- Unplug the television and write after dinner. When you’ve finished the draft, reward yourself by binge watching the entire season of The Mandalorian!
- Weekends are a perfect time to carve out writing time. Take yourself off to the coffee shop for a few hours in the morning. You can be back by noon and still have the whole day ahead of you.
- Find opportunities to squeeze in some writing time during the day. Do you take a train to work? If yes, plug in the earbuds and get to work! Do you have to wait at the bus stop for the kids? If so, bring your notebook and arrive a few minutes early. Do you have a doctor’s appointment? A laptop travels.
Don’t wait for the muse.
Creativity breeds creativity, at least in my experience. Sure, inspiration can strike suddenly, and some days the words flow easily, but not always. Writing takes work. Some scenes are born kicking and screaming. If we wait for that perfect moment of inspiration, we’ll never finish a project. Write during the times you’ve scheduled, even if you don’t end up using all the content.
End your writing session with the next scene in mind.
Before you end you writing session, plan the scene you’ll work on next. Sometimes, I leave off in the middle of a scene. If not, I’ll stop a few minutes early, take a few notes, and do some thinking about the next scene. When I do this, I find I’m excited to get back to work because I know where I’m going next, and the ideas are able percolate during my down time.
With good habits in place, you can finish that first draft! Happy writing.