We all know getting into good writing habits will see us complete our manuscripts, but what about those bad writing habits that don’t help the process?
You know what those habits are. They’re the things that stop you from sitting at your keyboard regularly, eat up the precious part of the day set aside for your writing, and slow your progress so it feels non existent.
Well, not anymore! It’s time to break those bad writing habits for good.
Bad Writing Habits To Break
Negative Self Talk
This is a habit that you might not even realize you’re doing, which is why it’s so important to break. Every time you think to yourself “I failed again”, “I’m the worst writer in the world”, “No one else will ever want to read this”, you’re feeding the negativity beast.
It’s natural to doubt yourself sometimes, everyone does, but you also need to realize that just by trying every day and sitting at your keyboard, no matter how infrequently or how little you get done, you are writing and you’re a writer.
You can’t be the judge of whether anyone else will like your work because you’re too close to it. Just write the best you can, learn and improve your skills, and leave the negative self talk out of it. Find yourself a positive mantra and repeat that instead.
Not Writing Stuff Down
You think you’ll remember it. You won’t.
Shiny new ideas and breakthrough plot twists always come to you at the worst moments. They pop into your head when you’re driving, showering, washing dishes, or somewhere with no access to a pen and paper. You tell yourself that the idea is so brilliant you won’t forget it, then you do. Write things down as soon as you can. It’ll save you from frustration later on.
Checking Social Media Before Writing
Have you gotten into the habit of taking a quick look at Twitter before starting your writing session? Stop! It’s a trap.
You’ll skip from Twitter to Instagram to Facebook and then back again in an endless loop! Guaranteed.
Even if you think you can control it and check just once, or in a five-minute time limit, the next thing you know, you’re in a YouTube video-rabbit hole of cute kittens falling over.
Even worse is writing a paragraph, taking a break to check Twitter, and then losing your momentum and another half an hour of your life.
Break the social media habit when writing. Don’t check before you get started, don’t check during. Treat your writing sessions as if you’re at work where you can’t look at anything but the task at hand.
The FOMO (fear of missing out) might try to lure you back, but everything will still be there once you’ve finished writing your chapter.
Not Having Any Type Of Schedule
Even just a post-it with “Write Today” stuck somewhere on your desk is good enough. But to really benefit, stop telling yourself you’ll write and then hope for the best. Mark it down in your calendar or on your phone as something you will do today, at a specific time, and do it!
Not Having Goals
It’s fine to say “I want to write a book”, but how will you get there? When will you get there? Sit down, think about it, and set yourself a goal.
It could be for the end of the year, for the next three months, even writing a chapter in the next two weeks is better than nothing. Set yourself up with some realistic writing goals, write them down, plan them out, and complete them.
Taking No Breaks
One habit you should break is taking no breaks!
As much as you think powering through the day without getting up from your keyboard is heroic, it’s not. Just ask your back muscles.
Set a timer that goes off every hour and walk to get a glass of water, maybe throw a few stretches in if you can, and break your daily bad writing habit. Next is dealing with the one that comes up every time you finish a draft.
It might seem easier to dive back into another round of drafting once you’ve done a full pass, or to start the next project the day after you’ve finished the last, but you must break that habit now. Not only do your words need a rest, but you do too.
It’s mentally exhausting writing a book, even if you love the process. Give yourself a break between manuscripts and read a book, see a movie, catch up with friends, go for a walk, anything that’ll give you a reset. You deserve it after all the hard work you’ve done.
What’s the hardest writing habit you’ve had to break and how did you do it? Share your secrets in the comments.
— K.M. Allan