By Shelley Widhalm
Lists are a great way to get motivated and to turn desires into habits—and to get motivated to write, I resort to my top 10.
Over the years, I’ve collected notes about writing processes and habits from magazine articles and books on writing, writing conferences and workshops, and my own personal experiences. I find these notes to be helpful, especially at those times when I feel discouraged, unwilling or stuck.
From these notes, I’ve generated my top 10 tips for writing and rules to live by to make writing a routine and, over time, a habit that I do without thinking or agonizing about it. I don’t want to have ideas and put them on hold because I’m busy, tired or overwhelmed. Instead, I want to show up for writing, finding that once I got started, I have something to say, a poem to write, or descriptions and storylines to add to a work in progress. It can be sticky or rough at first, but once I write, it seems easier to continue and I’m glad I put in the effort.
Top 10 Writing Tips
- Write as much as you can, setting a writing quota with daily, weekly or monthly goals, such as writing three to four times a week. For example, make it a goal to write for two hours or 1,000 words in a session.
- Get rid of distractions and the inner critic, which can keep you from writing by serving as excuses to not write or to invite in writer’s block.
- Don’t wait for inspiration, because the more you practice writing, the easier it is for words and ideas to come to you.
- Figure out what is most essential for you to write about. Write about what interests you, what you want to learn about and, of course, what you already know.
- Have more awareness, using all of the senses when making observations to add details to your descriptions. Take notes for later use.
- Think about where your writing wants to go, realizing that you’re not in total control of it. Trust your subconscious to make connections your conscious mind isn’t ready to or won’t necessarily be able to make.
- Realize that rough or first drafts aren’t perfection on the first try. As you write, the story or message unfolds and isn’t readily formed until it’s written. Get the sentences down, then revise and revise again.
- Accept that writing is supposed to be hard.
- Focus on the process instead of the results. Enjoy that process.
- And, last but not least, read. Reading makes you a better writer.
Writing in the New Year!
The start of a new year is a great time to reflect on the best writing advice to find the time, discipline and inspiration to do the hard work of sitting down to write. It’s a great time to make writing a habit through the year of 2018!