42 Bad Habits for a Writer (Apart from Feeling Constantly Possessed by Gloom)

Poet for hire or man writing in the middle of a crowded street

There’s talent, there’s hard work, there’s inspiration, and then there are habits… Some habits are good for writers, others, well… You don’t have to agree with all the “bad” habits I’m going to list next. Actually, I challenge you to disagree with at least some of them. Perfect agreement is always rather boring, don’t you think?

1

Not writing something every day, even if it’s only a few words.

2

Leaving writing to later in the day, after you finish doing seemingly more important things.

3

Not switching off from social media and the internet while writing.

4

Writing too fast.

5

Writing too slowly.

6

Staring at a blank page, or not writing anything that comes to mind without worrying about making it great and trusting that the story you have to tell will eventually find you.

7

Not getting paid for your writing, as in trying your hand at freelancing before you’re done writing your novel or poetry collection.

8

Being shy or awkward about being a writer—not admitting it to others.

9

Not embracing solitude and finding in it an opportunity to appreciate all that you have, starting with your (relative) health and your senses (at least for now).

10

Not accepting that having little money can actually help you live a smarter, less wasteful life and focus on your craft instead of on transient pleasures.

11

Editing as you write if it slows down your writing too much.

12

Wasting too much time in workshops and literary gatherings and events rather than writing.

13

Working at a job that drains your energy and leaves you little time or willpower for serious writing.

14

Pouring all your creative power into one project.

15

Writing only sad poetry because of your constant love woes.

16

Not going out among people now and then, even if writing in a café or park will never be as productive for you as writing in your room.

17

Thinking that writing one good sentence after another will make a great story.

18

Doing all your writing on a computer—not handwriting at least now and then or using a writing device such as the AlphaSmart.

19

Not keeping a journal.

20

Writing everything for yourself—not taking the time to consider your audience.

21

Writing what you think people want to read or what can be sold—in other words, not being faithful to your inner reader.

22

Seeking external approval before you have won the approval of your inner critic.

23

Thinking that writing is a science and that it can be explained by rules or formulated according to set principles.

24

Not factoring in the role that chaos, hazard and the subconscious play in the creative process.

25

Not living a rich life full of experiences that can feed your writing.

26

Spending too much time blogging.

27

Sitting at your desk for more than one or two hours at a time before getting up and moving about.

28

Not exercising.

29

Not drinking tea.

30

Not eating dark chocolate.

31

Not cooking your own food, at least now and then—eating only processed foods.

32

Not going on long walks through nature, the park, or the city.

33

Not paying attention to the stories that people around you tell you.

34

Not recording your dreams to use them as inspiration in your writing.

35

Not sharing your writing with others who can tell you what they make of it.

36

Not reading dead authors.

37

Not reading contemporary authors.

38

Reading only fiction.

39

Reading only books in a certain genre or by certain authors—in other words, not reading widely.

40

Not putting your drafts aside for a time, so you can return to them with fresh eyes.

41

Self-publishing your book because it’s easy—not taking your time with it, not polishing it.

42

Reading about bad habits for a writer instead of well, just writing and reading.

PS: How many of these habits are you guilty of?

5 thoughts on “42 Bad Habits for a Writer (Apart from Feeling Constantly Possessed by Gloom)

  1. Feeling pretty good about myself after reading this list! Sadly, I see a lot of people getting sucked into the black hole of number 23. Number 40 is one of the most important, I think.

  2. I confess I am guilty of quite a few. I am also guilty of punishing myself. That is if I need to get a task completed, I don’t allow myself to write or paint until the task is finished. Hence, neither the task or the writing gets done.

  3. Eating DARK CHOCOLATE is extremely important 😀
    I love this list. I haven’t written a damn thing in ages… I think about it daily and do nothing. Wtf am I waiting for? Thank you for this.

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