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

The Solitude of Being a Writer

Man playing the piano in solitude

If you hate solitude, you probably have no business trying to write for a living. You’ll end up hating writing. And you’ll make yourself and others miserable in the process.

Writing is, for the most part, a solitary endeavor.

It doesn’t matter whether you write online content, copy for an advertising agency, poetry, or novels.

You will struggle. And you will be solitary.

On the outside, writing may appear a whimsy pursuit. The weight of the pen may seem insubstantial compared to the weight of any other tool.

But on your pen rests the whole weight of your world – your experiences, your emotions, your love, your hate, your past, all piled up together.

To write well and keep on writing well, you’ll have to say no to things and people.

You’ll have to be solitary for a few hours almost every day and build yourself a quiet den.

It could be your parents’ room.

It could be a rented flat or a shiny office.

Or maybe your favorite café.

Wherever you build your quiet den, you will be there without being there. You will be physically present. But you will channel your focus in some other place, in that parallel universe where writing happens.

And most people won’t understand you. Your friends won’t (always) understand you either. (Actually, before you know it, you may not even have any friends left.)

And your lover or partner may not understand you either. He or she may take your need for solitude as a personal affront.

Writing is, essentially, an act of solitude.

It’s the art of being alone with your thoughts and emotions and reflecting them on paper. It’s an exercise in patience.

Sometimes I loathe my solitude.

I tear it to shreds with plans of change and transformation, which are like so many claws grown out of pride. I think of other things I could do instead of writing my hours away.

But my body writes the way it breathes or eats or sleeps.

My body likes writing, regardless of what my mind tells me.

And so, it’s easy for me to remain steeped in solitude.

When people try to welcome me into their world, I withdraw.

Solitude is my mistress.

Solitude is my wife.

For her, I write poems.

For her, I write prose.

Because, you see, there is a reward in that solitude.

Solitude distills life. It makes time irrelevant and sharpens all those little details around you that the presence of others blurs.

It connects you deeply to nature and the changing seasons.

It helps you appreciate food, drink, rest, and other things more.

It breathes life into the small things.

Often, I feel that I don’t belong to myself unless I am solitary.

If others surround me, I become a different version of myself.

I say things and behave in ways that surprise me. I play a part, not consciously, but socially. We all do that, whether we want to or not.

That’s why I write as a way of life.

Because I love being my authentic self.

Because I love solitude and cherish it.

Sometimes I overdo it, I know. Hiding in my shell, I miss on life and upset people.

But my shell is part of me, and breaking it isn’t the answer. It won’t help me live well.

Rather, I have to carry it with me. I have to carry it wherever I go.

The Vulnerability of Being a Writer

Writer sitting in a chair against a background page

Writing turns me into a little God sometimes, but more often, it makes me feel vulnerable. To write, I often have to give things up and retreat into my bubble. I have to face my thoughts and my emotions. I have to turn with my back to half the world so I can face the page.

Writing is a solitary endeavor. Draft after draft, edit after edit, revision after revision – the hours fly. When you spend days, weeks, months writing, you spend days, weeks, months not doing something else. Not traveling, not meeting people, not falling in love.

During this time, you may exist in a state of complete or partial isolation. You may not make money, establish connections, build up muscle, or work toward getting a nicer house or a nicer car – things which, in the eyes of many, are more valuable than an article, poem, short story, or book can ever be.

So why would a sensible person choose to write as a way of life?

I cannot answer for others, but I can answer for myself.

First, the honest answer: because I cannot help it.

And now the rest of it…

Because that vulnerability conceals a depth of feeling and a deep sensibility that enrich life. That make the little things matter: the light falling on a leaf, the sway of a blade of grass, the smell of a daffodil, the twinkle of a star at night. That make us notice a woman’s eyebrows when everyone else looks only at her eyes.

Because writing is a form of meditation. It’s a way to make this world your own.

And because it is a way of creating instead of destroying, a way of giving something to others in return for everything that you have to consume.

Also, because being vulnerable makes you honest with yourself and with others, even when that honesty hurts.

Too often we pretend we are better than we really are. We tell ourselves stories. We create versions of ourselves. Writing as a way of life allows us to do all that, but at the same time, it reminds us that we need to be vulnerable to be ourselves.

Because we are fragile and at any moment our life can end. And that’s something we can’t allow ourselves to forget if we are to live a life that is authentically ours and not merely the product of other people’s agenda.

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Does writing make you feel vulnerable?