If you’ve read anything on how to become a better writer, how to publish a book, how to become an author, etc. you’ve most likely come across some form of the advice: “YOU NEED TO WRITE EVERY DAY!!!” And, you do. Well, kind of. More accurately, in order to produce enough content to learn how to write better and write something worth publishing, there isn’t some tip or piece of advice where you can wave a magic wand and suddenly your writing will be incredible and everyone will love it and you’ll be published and get awards yada yada yada. In the end, it all boils down to hard work, aka actually sitting down and writing. You learn by doing. So in order to learn how to be a better writer, you have to write. A lot. All the time. When you don’t feel like it. When you’re busy. When you’re bored and tired of writing. When you have “better” things to do.
But, that’s easier said than done. If all the experts say that you need to write daily, well, how do you write daily? Now, buckle up. Some of these numbered bullet points will be completely contradictory, and that’s okay. Everyone learns differently, and everyone writes differently. These are some suggestions to get you started, and I would encourage you to at least try most of them to see how they work for you, but remember that some of these WON’T work for you. That’s just how things are. But use these ideas to figure out how you best work and how to motivate yourself to become a better writer.
1. Establish a routine
Whether it’s an ambiguous, “I’m going to write five days a week,” “I’m going to writing in the morning,” or “I’m going to write at 7 am every morning,” tell yourself that you are going to write and do it!
2. Give yourself a goal or reward
Whether it is a short term goal like, write for at least 4 days this week and I’ll get a milkshake or watch the new episode of my favorite show, or a REALLY short term goal like, if I write for 30 minutes I can make a cup of tea, setting more tangible, immediately accessible goals than, if I write today, eventually I’ll publish a book, will help motivate you.
3. Start small
You aren’t going to be able to immediately start writing every single day for 2 hours at a time (unless you’re Superman or something). Start with a smaller goal of 15 minutes a day, 3 days a week. Or 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Or 45 minutes a day, 2 days a week. Whatever seems doable to you so that you won’t feel like you’re drowning if you miss a day’s writing. (Side note: Also, don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day! You want writing to be exciting, even though a lot of times it won’t be, and a surefire way to make yourself not want to write is to feel guilty about not writing the day before)
4. Avoid distractions
If you have a hard time getting things done with people all around you, vying for attention, get someplace where you don’t have those distractions while writing! Of course, it may be hard to get completely away from all distractions (its a little impractical to have to go someplace like the park or the library to write everyday unless they’re right across the street), but try staying away from main centers of your home while you write, or go into a room and put a sign on the door to let others know not to bother you.
5. Use distractions
However, sometimes staring at a blank, white screen while you’re sitting in a room with complete silence can make it pretty hard to write too. Again, it may be hard to go somewhere like a coffee shop everyday for the background noise of people talking around you, but not talking to you, but you can try writing in a part of the house off of one of the more trafficked rooms where you aren’t immediately apart of whatever is going on, but can still hear things going on. Another option is to go to a site like Coffitivity, and let it make some background noise for you! (music works too, but that’s a whole separate post!)
6. Use a timer
Deciding to work for a set amount of time can really help writing regularly seem much more manageable. Instead of working toward a word goal everyday which can be effective, but makes it hard to measure when you are working on editing or brainstorming, which are both perfectly legitimate uses of your writing time, using a timer keeps you on task and focused for a fixed amount of time, helping you to make your writing time more efficient.
7. Work at your desk
Working at your desk tells your brain it’s time to get down to work. A clean desk holds much fewer distractions than trying to write in other places.
8. Don’t work at your desk
Working at a desk can also feel stifling. If you feel like you’re not able to get anything done when you sit down at a desk, find somewhere else to write!