How to Make Writing a Daily Habit

Painting of woman at table with hat and fruit basket writing

Do you want to write but find it hard to sit down and do it? Writing is something worth making time for. As for inspiration, well, you don’t have to wait for it.

Consider making writing a daily habit, something you do naturally, without too much thinking or effort. Here are some ideas.

1

Write in the morning if you can, before life has the chance to distract you.

Make sunrise your queue to start writing.

2

Set a word count or decide on a number of pages you will write every day.

Having a writing goal makes writing easier, even if you don’t work for pay or to be published.

3

Know what you are going to write. Think about what you will write the day before. Your writing is more likely to flow.

Also, consider stopping before you have written everything, like Hemingway used to do, so you can pick things up tomorrow.

4

Create a writing space. If you can’t spare a room or corner of your home for this, write by hand or do your writing on a device other than the one you study or work on.

This writing space will become a cue that puts you in writing mode.

5

Use a time cue if you have to. Instilling a habit gets easier when you can combine a location cue with a time cue.

For example, say to yourself, “Tomorrow I’m going to write X words at 9 am.

6

Write to remember, to understand, to appreciate, to create. Don’t write to impress or to be poetic or because it’s an artsy thing to do.

Write as if you will never have to share your writing with anyone. As if your writing will never be judged.

7

Block distractions while you write. Unplug the internet cable. Turn off notifications on your phone. Lock the door if you have to.

It’s not anti-social behavior, it’s simply a way to enjoy being with yourself for a little while, and focusing on the writing.


Painting (c) Sally Rosenbaum

7 Things That Make Us Worse Writers

Woman writing painting loose brushstrokes by Giovanni Boldini

Some habits are worse for writers than others. Here’s what I mean…

Continue reading “7 Things That Make Us Worse Writers”

In Praise of the Backspace Key

On our keyboards it stays aloof from other letters.

We never begin a sentence with it, and unlike the Spacebar or Enter, we don’t press it eagerly as we flow with our thoughts.

On the contrary, before pressing it we may sigh inwardly and feel unpleasant, as if we’ve done something wrong, committed a silent act of non-creation nobody will ever know about.

And when we do press it, it’s seldom with joy.

Most of the time, we press it out of necessity, because the words have come out wrong.

Or the word count has grown too large.

Or what we’ve just typed doesn’t make much sense.

It eats the letters as it blinks, leaving no trace of them behind, makes them disappear into the void.

And the word count shrinks, and we know we may have to start writing again.

On our phones it’s marked with an X, as if it was the gravestone of so many dead words and sentences, so many ideas others will never read.

Our thumb is often near it, covering it, and when we press it, it flashes—and gone is a letter.

Sometimes we press it in a frenzy, tap tap tap, as if it was a machine gun killing letters.

As a last resort, we press it all the way, and whole words and sentences, the entire text disappears…

The Backspace key.

We may not like it, but what would we be without it?

Like a gardener’s pruning shears or a gem cutter’s polisher, the Backspace key saves us from excess growth, from rough edges.

Like a handy mop even, it saves us from word vomit.

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

It’s not as cruel as the Delete key, not as definitive.

But it’s sharp and cutting, and the letters don’t stand a chance against it. The bad ones at least.

Backspace may have a bad reputation. It may not be our favorite key.

But wouldn’t writing be frightening without it?

And what would editing be without the Backspace key?

Isn’t Backspace liberating? Doesn’t it create endless possibilities even as it cuts away the excess letters and words?