How to create a good writing habit

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“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” – E.L. Doctorow

In order to write a book you need to keep putting word after word, line after line, page after page, and eventually you’ll get to the end. It doesn’t sound too hard but at first it can feel daunting.

Although it is sound advice to just worry about the line in front of you, I also find that a deadline, or target, helps enormously.

Have a word target for the day, that you stick to like a blood hound. Remember that without discipline that book won’t get written.

I’ve just come back from London and feel inspired, like I always do when I’ve been surrounded by those familiar streets and landmarks. So much history and a story on almost every corner. (I noticed a plaque today for Ho Chi Minh, who apparently once worked at The Carlton Hotel, before founding Vietnam)

On the way back I’ve run some rough maths in my head, and think that it may be possible to write four books a year, of 70-90,000 words. If I stick to a habit of 3,000 words a day.

I’d be interested in what anyone else has to say about that?

I’m not sure whether it sounds too challenging, or not, but I believe that a target is a good thing to have, as long as it’s achievable.

Here’s some more advice in creating a good writing habit that will make you keep to your promises.

– pick something easily achievable at first
– reward yourself for hitting the target
– monitor your progress in terms of how far you’ve come, not in what you have left to do
– don’t hit your target and keep going. Stop and be happy with what you have achieved. Your work’s done for the day, enjoy it.
– however you feel, and what ever your perceived inspiration levels are, turn up each day and write your words.
– keep in mind the glorious sight of another book finished

These ideas have worked for me in writing two books, but there must be more. So, I’d be interested in any other ideas that people have discovered that work.

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5 responses to “How to create a good writing habit

  1. “Don’t just plan to write – write. It is only by writing, not dreaming about it, that we develop our own style.” PD James. True for pretty much most things in life! That said 3000/day sounds a lot Mike, esp if you’re blogging as well. I’ve heard of a few prolific bloggers and writers targeting 1000 words in a day (iirc anyway). It is a target tho so could be 4000 one day, 1000 the next, 2000 the next. Write more but don’t beat yourself up when life gets in the way of your prolificacy.

    Good luck.

  2. Btw have you read On Writing by Stephen King? Awesome read if not.

  3. Pingback: 10 writing tips for when the Queen comes to visit | Michael J Holley – Writer

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