New Year, New Writing Habits

Welcome to a new year! By now, we’re over a full week in, which means you’ve either already failed your new year resolutions, are back to the tried and true rational of “I’ll start tomorrow, next Monday/week/month…” or you’ve managed 9 days fulfilling every new habit that you’ve set!

It’s human nature to grow, improve, and try new things. The allure of a new year with a clean slate is always the perfect time to do that. After all, a new year is full of possibilities that haven’t been marred with disappointment… just yet.

As a writer, a new year often brings new projects. The chance to start a new manuscript, or to finish one you’ve been working on for years. “This is it!” you’ve been telling yourself. “This is the year I will finally finish/submit/publish/snag that agent/achieve that lifelong dream!”

Such lofty goals should be set and aimed for, but often, when trying to achieve a writing goal, we set big expectations for ourselves. Being a creative means so much to us that writing goals can become very be-all and end-all.

So, how do we ensure we reach our goals without burning out? By using the magic of a new year to forge new writing habits!

New Year, New Writing Habits

Now, if you have any good writing habits that have seen you accomplish your goals, keep them in your life. With a new start, you only want to get rid of the writing habits that are stopping you from being as productive as you can be.

Habits To Keep

The ones that ensure you make regular writing progress. That could be…

  • Waking up early and writing first thing.
  • Turning the TV off an hour before bed and writing.
  • Plotting during your lunch hour.
  • Aiming for one specific goal most days, I.e. writing 500 words.

These should be the habits that you know work for you. You might have heard about them from other people, or made them up yourself. In either case, they’re the habits that fit your current lifestyle and will allow you to get words on the page daily. Keep doing them, keep refining them, and keep having fun with them.

Habits To Kill

Even the most inspired, disciplined, and prolific writers have habits that stop them from reaching their goals, such as…

  • Not making writing a top priority on your to-do list.
  • Self-sabotaging.
  • Waiting for inspiration.
  • Not having any kind of writing routine.

If writing regularly isn’t in the top three tasks of your daily/weekly to-do list, you’ll never make decent progress. That’s just the harsh truth. If you’re always putting other (less important) tasks before writing, you’ll get those tasks done, and then complain that you never have time to write!

Kill the habit of not making writing one of your major priorities for the day/week and add it to the top end of your to-do list. After that, work on that self-sabotage. We all do it. Procrastinating and even procrasta-writing other things instead of the one important writing task we should do are just some ways we mess up our best laid writing plans.

Get the writing done. Don’t wait for inspiration to strike. Invoke it by sitting at your keyboard and typing words for longer than five minutes. Plan and follow a good writing routine that regularly puts you at your writing desk and working. It really is that simple.

Habits To Add

The life of a modern writer can be a real grind. We’ve got to juggle writing with social media marketing, interactions, blogging, book reviews, making graphics, and a million other little authoring things that are connected to writing but not actually writing. When you’re doing all that and trying to break and create writing habits, it can be a bit much.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed in the modern writing game, so habits outside of regular writing should be about balancing everything.

Instead of overwhelming yourself with new habits to up your productivity, try ones that help you relax when you aren’t being productive, such as…

  • Limiting social media to certain times of the day.
  • Taking a break from everything one day a week.
  • Reading for fun, not to review or to make a quota/challenge goal.
  • Re-evaluating your expectations.

When you’re only looking at social media during a designated time of day instead of every five minutes, you actually get other things—like writing—done. Who knew, right? Try it for yourself and see!

Another wonderful habit to get in to is taking a break from writing/authoring once a week. Go old school to the times when people left work on a Friday and didn’t have to do anything work-related again until 9 am Monday morning. When you realize the sky doesn’t fall down when you don’t check social media or open up your MS for just one day, it’s freeing.

Another freeing habit to form is reading for fun and not to meet a goal or to post a review. If you’re someone who reviews books on your blog or social media, it can turn reading into a chore. I found this happening to me and took a month-long break from reading to review.

Instead, I just read books I wanted to, and did nothing more than log them on Goodreads and leave a starred review. I found I still read through a book a week, but it didn’t feel like I had to read for the sake of reading, which was nice. If reading, or any other writing-related task, has become a chore, get into the habit of doing it for fun instead and see if it shifts your feelings on the activity.

One final new habit suggestion for your new year is to re-evaluate your expectations. This is something I did in 2022 with the blog post, Grieving A Writing Life. Looking at my own expectations about what being an author means really helped me let go of issues I didn’t realize I was subconsciously carrying. It’s a habit I’d like to continue in the new year, and every year after.

If you’d like to try it too, re-evaluate your expectations when it comes to writing, and even the direction your life is taking, and see what you can and are willing to adjust. Along with keeping your good habits and killing your bad ones, you should see better progress with your writing goals. Goals that you will start on tomorrow, or next Monday. Or the Monday after, or the next month. Definitely by June, or at the very latest, next New Years!

— K.M. Allan

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

32 thoughts on “New Year, New Writing Habits

  1. Excellent post! Though I felt called out with –> “or to finish one you’ve been working on for years” LOL 😀

    I also have started reading for fun rather than just to review. I have so many books I really want to read but I lost the enjoyment of reading. I am finally back in a groove with reading.

    Great tips, I definitely like the one where you just take a break from everything once a week. It is hard not to define our worth in terms of productivity, but that is so very damaging. We need to step away, and not think about anything for a day and come back refreshed!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. 🤣 that call out was for myself as well! I’ve been working on my current WIP since 2017 and really need to get it finished this year.

      Yay to getting your reading groove back! Reading for fun has done the same for me too.

      I recently had just over 2 weeks off and I didn’t check social media in that time. It was stressful at first, but when I came back, everyone was still there and the world didn’t end, so I know it’s safe to take regular breaks now, and will be making that a priority this year.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Love this look at what writing habits you aim to keep, which you aim to leave behind, and what you want to add! I feel that I’d also like to keep a more updated to-do list and actually use it, as well as limit the times I check in on social media. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Layla! During the last few months of 2022, I started using a new writing routine (which will be written about in my next blog post) where I tried limiting social media and it was a real game changer for me. I’m hoping others will find it just as helpful.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Tom! I hope you have a great 2023 too. Loved the goals you posted in your recent blog post and I look forward to seeing more of your beautiful hiking pictures and hearing how your writing is moving along.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Reading as a chore is a thing. I read a lot of indie authors, and knowing how important reviews are for them (us, actually!) I feel obligated to review. I hardly ever review on my blog, though. For one thing, which authors would I feature, and which would be ignored? It’s awkward when you read authors you know through their blogs. Then there’s the matter of adding cover images and links. That’s work! So now I post reviews on Goodreads and wherever I bought the book from, i.e., Amazon or Smashwords.
    I’m between WIPs right now, but maybe I should think about building in some routines to get inspired for the next one.
    Thanks for this post, Kate!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I hear you, Audrey! That’s why I stick to between 2-4 books a month. I read mostly indie too, so I always add a review, and by only reading a small number of books a month, it means I can add the review to my round-up posts. I can totally understand anything more than that being a big chore for a reader/reviewer/blogger, which is why I don’t have individual review blog posts. It would get so overwhelming for me and I would also worry that I’d offend someone by leaving them or their books out. It’s a hard balance, but an important one as I know how appreciated it is to get a review as an indie author. Good luck with your next WIP. I’m always on board for routines, so I hope you find one. My next blog post will be about a new routine I’ve been trying for a few months, so keep an eye out for that.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “Turning the TV off an hour before bed and writing.”
    I have found turning off the TV and reading an hour before sleeping at night gives me a better night’s sleep. The hassles of the day are wiped out with a fictional story.

    “Self-sabotaging.”
    This is a habit is one I’m having a hard time breaking. I think one of my problems with this, if not my only one, is I lack confidence in myself. It’s a natural part of me.

    “Taking a break from everything one day a week.”
    I prefer writing every day. Still, once in a while, the daily session is quite short because there are other things I want to do and I give into them.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Reading for fun. Go figure, right? Something nobody tells you when you start to write is that if you really want to make a go of it, you just might never read for simply pleasure again. I’m always reading for the blog, trying to discover that perfect comp, researching for my WIP, etc. But most of us writers began to write because we love to read. I hate to lose that reading-for-love feeling! Definitely on my to-do for this new year: read just for me, just for fun.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! I started writing because I was such a big reader. Then, along the way, I didn’t have time to read as much, or to read what I wanted for fun because I was reading to learn how to be a better writer or blogger. I’ve been reading more for fun for about a month now, and I’d forgotten how good it is. I hope you get to do more of it too this year, Rebecca!

      Liked by 1 person

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