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Tips for Writing Every Day—An Update

Two and a half years have passed since my last “Writing Every Day” post.


I still don’t write every day, but I’ve gotten a lot better! So, do the tips I gave you last time hold up? Is that how I cracked the code? Well, yes and no. Read on to find out what’s worked for me, and what hasn’t.




Outlining: It Works!

My definition of outlining has changed a little over the years, but it’s still an important part of my daily writing. Sometimes I’ll put together a bulleted list to guide my writing sessions, but more importantly, I always know what I’m going to write before I sit down at my keyboard. This helps me prevent the panic and dread that goes with blank page syndrome. For me, this means when I’m making a to-do list, I don’t just put “Write” with an empty check box staring me down—I would say “Write list of blog post topics” or “Write ‘Tips for Writing Every Day’ Blog” or “Edit chapter four.”


Accountability: It Doesn't Work!

Okay, okay, clarifying statement: it doesn’t work for me. I’ve tried buddy systems, I’ve done social media posts, I’ve kept track of streaks—and none of it helped me write any more frequently. I’m a perfectionist, so any time I had to tell a friend that I fell off the wagon, any time I missed an update, any time I broke a streak, I felt like a failure. The idea behind this one is that you’ll run from that feeling, but that’s not what happens for me. I just shut down. If I’m going to fail anyway, why try? That kind of motivation just doesn’t work for me.


Picturing Your Desired Outcome: It Doesn’t Work!

Now, there’s nothing wrong with spending a little time getting excited about what you’re working toward, but on days when I don’t feel motivated, this doesn’t quite do the trick. When I’m not feeling it, I’m just not feeling it, and daydreaming about potential outcomes doesn’t solve the problem.


Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself: This Is Essential!

I cannot stress this one enough. As you’re trying to build up your writing habit, you will fall off the wagon. You’ll have days that are too busy, days where you can’t work up the gumption, and a dozen other days where you just don’t write. That is okay. That is part of the process. You’re looking for a net gain of productivity, not perfection. If you missed a day, or a week, or a month, that is not a failure, that is just part of the process. Every day is a fresh start. After I stopped keeping track of every day I missed, I missed a lot less.


The Real Secret Sauce

This simple step made all the difference for me: find your time. Forming habits really is all about routine. Write within the same time block every day. The block that works best for me is in the morning between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m. I usually only write for an hour or two, but I leave a little buffer, so I can still get my writing in even if something comes up. I honestly couldn’t tell you why this works so well. Maybe it’s because it’s too early for interruptions from friends or family. Maybe it’s because I don’t have time to build up excuses. Maybe it’s because the type-A, planner in me finds satisfaction in knowing exactly what I’ll do when I wake up. Whatever the reason, this is it, this is the TL;DR. Find your time.


In the last two years, I’ve finished the biggest writing project I’ve ever started, I’ve participated in writing competitions, and I’ve written a handful of blog posts here, too. I am very proud of the progress I’ve made and the goals I’ve achieved thanks to this little habit-building exercise. If you want to start writing every day, do it. Start today and be kind to yourself if you fall off the wagon tomorrow. I know you can get back up.


This blog was first written for Targa Media Inc. and is published at targamedia.com

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