Whatever happened in 2018, the year’s almost over. A new year offers a new beginning, so perhaps you’re thinking of what you’ll do differently next year. One of my students has decided that she’ll focus on writing more in 2019.
She’s making that her primary New Year’s resolution, because she wants to write and publish two books in 2019. Her challenge is that she’s struggling to find time.
She asked for some tips to help.
Writing more: habits, time, and enthusiasm
Unfortunately, writing more longterm isn’t just a matter of clearing time in your schedule. If it were simple, you would be doing it already.
To write more, consider:
- Your current daily habits: do you write every day? Could you develop a writing habit?
- How much time do you have to write each day, or each week?
- Can you generate enthusiasm for your writing?
Let’s look at habits, time, and enthusiasm in a little more detail, so that you can build a strategy.
But wait… Are you thinking that “writing more” sounds a lot like working more? You can write way more than you do now, and work less, when you develop a writing habit.
1. Develop a writing habit so that writing more takes less work
Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit, offers some amazing insights. One insight is this: once you train your brain to do something, you can do that task faster, and with a lot less effort.
Duhigg tells the story of scientists researching what happened to rats which were running a maze. At first, when the rats were unfamiliar with the maze, the rats’ brains lit up completely, all over. The rats were working hard to learn the maze. But things changed once the rats had learned the maze.
As each rat leaned how to navigate the maze, its mental activity decreased. As the route became more and more automatic, each rat started thinking less and less.
It turns out that brains (both rats and human) like to create routines, and habits. These habits are then replayed automatically, using a lot less brainpower and energy.
That’s the reason that you can drive, and arrive somewhere, with no memory of the journey. Your brain has formed a routine for driving that route. It’s become a habit — you no longer need to think about it.
If you want to write more, aim to write every day. Sit down in the same place, at the same time, and write. This routine may seem a challenge initially, but when it becomes a habit, it will be automatic, and not like “work” at all.
2. Make your available time work for you
Writers who’ve gone full-time, and still find consistent writing a challenge, often say that they were more productive when they had a day job.
When you’ve got hours of time, it’s tempting to think “later.”
Whatever time you have to write each day, sit down and write. Ten minutes is enough time — you don’t need to wait until you can spend an hour or two hours writing.
Pack a little writing kit: a notepad and pen. Or write on your phone. Writing in small amounts of time is a habit too, so train yourself to do it until it becomes automatic.
3. Enthusiasm makes writing more possible
When you’re enthusiastic about your writing, it’s easier to sit down and do it.
Enthusiasm tends to ebb and flow. You’re enthusiastic about a project when it’s new. Over time, doubts set in. Enthusiasm fades.
At those times, try to regenerate your enthusiasm. If you’re tired, take a day off. Try approaching your writing in a new way: if you’re writing fiction, write from a different Point of View. If nonfiction, do a little more research.
It’s worth firing your enthusiasm, because enthusiasm brings creativity with it.
Writing more: a habit YOU can develop
Willpower takes energy. Instead of forcing yourself, trying building a writing habit. Once daily writing becomes a habit, you’ll automatically write more.
Try it in 2019 — and Happy New year. 🙂
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I developed the tactics and strategies in this book to help myself. My students have found them essential to producing both fiction and nonfiction almost effortlessly.More info →
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