9 Good Habits For a Writer

Umbrella and rainbow

I believe that how a writer writes his life off-page is as important as how he writes it on-page. Acquiring certain habits can help with the off-page writing, with the improvement of the character…

  1. Asking questions. For writers, the things that don’t happen in life can be just as important as those that happen, because they can see with their imagination what people miss to see with their eyes. Questions like Why? and How? can reveal interesting stories behind banal events.
  2. Accepting contrasting ideas. A great writer is at the same time both a liberal and a conservative, a theologian and a philosopher, an artist and a scientist. When not writing he is like any other person, and he is partial and takes sides. But when he picks up the pen, he must become like God, everything and nothing at the same time. That’s at least what I strive to do. Otherwise all my protagonists will be pure white and all my antagonists will be pitch black, which is not at all like most people are – gray.
  3. Writing at least as much as you read. Reading is more passive than writing, so it’s easier. I procrastinate sometimes by reading instead of writing, but I try to make amends by writing in the first half of the day, and then reading only after the writing is done.
  4. Not trying to do everything by yourself. A fellow who writes 3 hours and then spends 4 hours or more daily marketing his book or designing covers for it is more of a marketer or a graphic artist than he is a writer. It’s tempting to do everything by yourself because all the tools you need seem to be free (social media, book creation and formatting software, and so on). But all these cost time. Not to mention that when you become practical you lose your marvellous sense of unreality, which is the characteristic trait of the artist…
  5. Not envying other writers’ success. When a writer in your genre becomes successful you have only to gain. Readers are not like sports fans – they don’t have to take sides to enjoy the game. On the contrary, the more readers read, the more they want to read, so the success of a fellow writer who popularizes your genre actually increases the chances of your book being read.
  6. Not being rich. As an artist, having money can be a big distraction. You are tempted to buy things, go places, do things, and as fun as these might be, they encourage you to grow firm roots in the real world. I think that if you choose to be a writer you must distance yourself a little from worldly things while you are creating your story.
  7. Finding muses. A subtle attraction, a crush, or simply an innocent friendship with a person of the opposite sex tickles the imagination, encouraging it to indulge in revelries of what might have been if… These revelries can evolve into interesting narratives.
  8. Writing with your eyes closed. Good for resting the tired eyes and inducing a dream-like state that could help with writing vivid scenes. A sensible writer should avoid having to wear eyeglasses if he can.
  9. Dressing well. Writers are persons apart, and this must show in their dress. The sportswear your preferred in your youth must be ditched for more elegant clothing. Shoes say everything about a person, so these are particularly important and must be clean. Socks with sandals must be left to mathematicians. Writers have style.

What other habits should a writer have?

51 thoughts on “9 Good Habits For a Writer

  1. “Socks and sandals must be left to mathematicians.”

    Together, or separately? Sir, I love me some sandals 10 months a year! My heart and soul belong on the beach, though.

    Great post, btw.

    1. Ha ha…I had a Poetry professor who really did wear knee high socks with sandals and shorts to teach in!

  2. “Dressing well.”
    Hell yeah! Especially with the internet to catalogue all those terrible pictures of you. You’ve got to have style!

    I think ‘Traveling’ would be a good addition to this list as well. It’s so important for finding new inspiration. Plus, writing is one of those rare, portable careers. You might as well take advantage of that.

  3. Ad. 1. They taught us on my studies to never ask the question “why”…
    Ad. 2. I don’t know if I want to be black, neither if I want to be white, but gray… That sounds worse of all!
    Ad. 4. I think that creating your own cover is actually very artistic. In fact anything that involves creativity is artistic. By creating the entire book from “head to toes” you just widen your artistic skills.
    Ad. 9. “Shoes say everything about a person, so these are particularly important and must be clean. Socks with sandals must be left to mathematicians.” Amen! 🙂 Although I think socks and sandals should be left for no one!

    1. 1. No comment.
      2. I meant the characters, not the person! (Maybe I should reword that paragraph. What it means is creating characters that are neither saintly nor devilish, but something in between)
      4. I agree. But a writer is not really a graphic artist and by choosing to do what he is good but not great at he only wastes time that could have been devoted to writing.

  4. I agree with you on all but point 6 and 9. If a writer/artist is wise, he will invest his fortune towards his works. For point 9, you are probably right, but I still dress in fairly plain clothes, with a few random trinkets on my left wrist from time to time. What is your opinion on walking barefoot?

    1. Walking barefoot is awesome, especially when women do it. 😉

      As to clothes, I don’t mean dressing extravagantly. Only nor too sporty.

      You do have a tricorne Daniel 😉

      PS: How’s Irish school?

      1. This school year is one of my busiest. I’m fairly intelligent but not cut out for exams, which rely heavily on having a good memory. It feels very restricting and part of me can’t wait for school to finish, but the rest of me still likes the fun classes and hanging out with friends. How was your school life?

  5. 9 is indeed the only one i have neglected. i now understand what i’ve been doing wrong!
    i thought wearing a hat was enough, but you make a point about shoes…i’ve never thought about shoes as important. this must be remedied.

  6. I, also, have to take exception to number nine. Personally, one of the main things that has drawn me to writing as a career is that I’ve always wanted a job that I can do naked.

  7. I agree with all, especially # 2, 5, and 6. However, with number 9 I must take exception; difficult to choose intriguing shoes when one’s feet aren’t dainty. Although, I have told my husband that I wish I could get away with wearing ties; some are very elegant yet expressive. However, Annie Hall I am not. 🙂

  8. What a wonderful post!! I especially love the 8th and 9th. I finally bought a nice pair of boots – now I feel especially validated.

  9. Nice one, mars.
    4. and 6. How come you write quite a lot of “practical” things, eg. About writing and writers in the real world, when you claim a strong bond with the abstract? Are these largely products from your musings?
    As much as I am obsessed with the abstract, I have to say I also enjoy some realities. There is a way you handle them. I guess it’s another ability/gift/skill from God to be able to be both practical and unreal. So, it’s not by default that exposure to these things break one’s link with one’s “inspiration”.
    I did like this writing really.

  10. I think a distinction may be drawn between the clothes we wear while writing, an objective of simple maximum comfort for most of us, perhaps habit also, ritual and even superstition; and the clothes we wear, as you put it: off-page. I am finally making an effort on the later. On the former, I refuse to budge!

  11. Thank you so much for stopping by my blog sometimes❤ Happy to see you around😃
    Enjoy to read your post 😃 But honestly I love the painting you’ve chosen for this post!

  12. aptly said and I feel wriitng is something which happens just spontaneous ….one needs just a pen and paper and whilst of ideas ..

  13. Great article! Love the picture at the top as well. Did you design/make it? Thanks for ‘liking’ my Flash Fortnightly post on the Artipeeps website! 🙂

  14. Thanks for visiting 🙂 Interesting (cool) post. Keeping an eye on you.

    I would add that a good haircut, along with good shoes, can go a long way toward making up for other wardrobe deficiencies. 🙂 {If one can afford both at the same time}.

  15. [Oh, and the muse thing – it’s great, unless it turns into full-fledged unrequited love, and then you end up with a heavy burning heart of serious sadness].

  16. Vincent. I am an athlete! I love, love, love wearing sporty clothes. It’s me. Hat and shoes would be pretending to be someone else, and I’m all about truth. My writing is about confronting reality, accepting truth, being oneself and loving it to the absolute core of oneself. If that means wearing a Nike cap, bravo! If not, then I am fascinated to read more of your taste! Love your work! N

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