Bad Writing Habits To Break

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

Find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

62 thoughts on “Bad Writing Habits To Break

  1. But…I’m the QUEEN of negative self talk! 🙂

    You’re right, most of your habits are habit I actually follow. I do tend to scroll social media when I feel stuck and although that may count as a break, it’s too much of a time suck.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am a creature of habit. I’m also goal oriented. Yes, blame my grandparents for that. 🙂

    Those two things are responsible for my writing. I have to write a certain time every day and my long term goal has to be solid.

    Mentally we need to be in good shape for the work we are trying to produce. So much of that comes from the list you created. It is so important.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nice! Although, “Not Writing Stuff Down” has changed a lot for me over the years. I no longer carry a notebook around, and almost never jot down the “brilliant ideas” I have each day… but on the upside, I’ve stopped eating junk food? 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Excellent post filled with amazing tips, Kate! I am 100% guilty of the social media check and lack of schedule. You’ve prompted me to start planning my writing time going forward, otherwise I find myself procrastinating…thank you! ❤ xx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m dreadful at not writing ideas down. No notebook! I tell myself I’ll uses notes on my phome, but don’t!
    I really must break the habiot of thinking I’ll remember.
    Oh, and reading blog posts like this one! I should be writing, not reading fascinating stuff about how I should not be reading interesting stuff about how it stops me writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. During these past three months, I’ve become guilty of all seven of these awful habits. I do have an excuse but it’s one I should be able to get rid of if I just forge ahead with a plan I have in my mind.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Yes, yes, and yes. You’ve hit the nail on the head with all of these. My biggest struggles are self doubt and then thinking I’ll remember later! We really don’t! We have to write it down or in my case it is gone forever…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. petespringerauthor

    Great ideas, Kate. The writing it down thing resonates with me. There are times when I get frustrating trying to remember the “great idea” that I had. Now I get out of bed and write it down instead of fixating on it. By doing so, I have found that I sleep better, not worrying if I will remember in the morning.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ruth Miranda

    I can’t bring myself to agree with that last one, where it comes to me personally. Whenever I’m close to finishing a writing project, I already have another one in stewing in my head that I need to start straight away – I’m usually itching to move on to the new project when I reach the final half of the previous one…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Have you been peeking in my windows??? Hahaha. I did this very thing today, sat down to work on a new blog or story and instead spent TWO HOURS on FB. It’s ridiculous, a waste of time, but as addictive as crack, I imagine. Just a few minutes…… SURE. And the getting up and walking around one is so important for me too, now that I am 60 I stiffen up a lot more and need to move around the house, especially in winter. This was great, thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. The hardest writing habit I am still trying unsuccessfully to break is starting a new story when I have a huge pile of them waiting for some work on a second draft. I am great at writing a new short story, or even two, per day, but then they sit there because it’s more fun to create than actually do some work, lol. I have recruited my daughter to whip me lightly to finish or at least get some second drafts done on the ever-growing pile of newbies.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Is this a service your daughter will be offering to all writers? I might need her to keep me on track with my current edits 😅. Good luck with your second drafts! Pushing yourself to edit when you’d rather just be writing and creating is a hard habit to get into, but worth it when you have lots of shiny new finished stories!


  12. unruh561273

    Consistency is the hardest for me. I say I write 5 pages a day and then write like 10 one day then 3 the next then 11 then 2. I say I will write at 2:00, but really it 9:00. Lol

    Liked by 2 people

  13. unruh561273

    Yea in fact I have never joined anything like this site before. I started posting some of my writing on here. I post in two categories: Personal and Own Story. Personal is where I just talk about random stuff and story is where I share my manuscript chapter by chapter on what I have been working on. I really love getting on this site and reading what others have posted their writings about: interest, own creative stories, book reviews. I hope that my encouraging others and giving feedback that more people will be more opinion to sharing their ideas and thoughts. As writers or in any profession it is so important that we all work as a team and help build each other up 👍

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Pingback: Bad Writing Habits To Break — K.M. Allan – sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris

  15. Some solid sage advice here. Thank you my worst is not writing stuff down. Especially when its an idea for a post or something. Or I will write the idea down, but it would be so cryptic that I can’t figure out where the creativity in that idea is. I also don’t have a writing schedule, my schedule was “when the inspiration hits” and I went into a dry spell for 4 years… Inspiration didn’t hit often.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I once stopped writing for 6 years because I did the same thing and only wrote when I felt like it. I’ve been writing regularly for the last 5 years and it’s made a huge difference to my productivity.

      Liked by 1 person

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