A Daily Writing Habit - a metaphor

For those aspiring writers out there, whether it be fiction, essays, or you just want to start a blog, one really good habit to cultivate is daily writing. If I got anything out of my time grinding in grad school in the humanities (don’t do it) it’s this.

Writing big chunks of words can be intimidating. It doesn’t really matter if you’re talking about a 1,500 word blog post or a full length novel of 90,000 words. The reality is, If you’ve never taken on the challenge before, you might wonder how you could ever get so many related, congruent words on a piece of paper.

To be fair, I’m not a binger in any regard. I’m a methodical guy, if you haven’t picked up on it yet. I like to plan things out. I like to work on thing a little at a time. Now, that might be a personality quirk, but it’s also practical. I don’t really have time to go hide in a cave and churn out a billion posts over countless nights. I’ve got a few short minutes here and there. That’s how life works for most of us.

To get around that problem, I write every day.

How I Do This

It’s pretty simple. I set a number of words that I need to write everyday, and then I do it. For example, let’s talk about my blogging. I plan on writing 27 posts, 750 words each, and 9 posts that are 1,500 word each (approximately).

(750 x 27) + (1,500 x 9) = 33,750

Divide that by a year’s worth of days and you get around a 100. I add a few to compensate for the bad days, which gets me up to 125. There you go. Some basic mathematics, and I know I have to write 125 words every day, rain or shine. And you know what, that takes me, on average, about 4 minutes.

Tips and Tricks

Don’t write more than you’re supposed to

I don’t know why, but for some reason walking away with more to say is really helpful. You might think you’re on a roll. Hell, you might actually be on a roll. But the more you leave on the table, the easier it will be when you come back to your half-finished thought the next day. Don’t take it from me. Hemingway did this all the time.

A quick note: if you do stop in a weird palce, leave yourself a note about what will happen next. That way you won’t be super confused the next day.

Spend Words Writing Outlines

Start from an outline. Maybe your first 100 words is nothing more than how you envision this whole thing going. And you know, it doesn’t have to look like some crazy elaborate outline you made in your AP English class. Just the sub headings and a basic understanding of how things will develop. Sometimes I’ll even write estimated word counts at the top of the heading.

Skip around

Got multiple projects? A bunch of blog posts? Multiple chapters? Writing doesn’t have to be linear, and a daily word count doesn’t have anything to do with what words to write. Hell, things might work better starting at the end. You’ll know where you’re going.

Editing

Daily writing doesn’t account for editing. If you thought 4 minutes a day would do you, you’ve got it wrong. Editing takes as much or more than just the making of words. Writing 100 words is not the same as writing 100 words of publishable, decent material. That’s not to say you’ll have to throw out everything. In fact, your first drafts will vary day to day. Sometimes 100 words will be utter garbage. Sometimes it’ll be textual gold.  

Why

There’s no magic here. This is the kind of sage advice you’ll hear from anybody who routinely makes words. And it’s for good reason. It works.


First, it’s daunting to stare at a blank cursor. Anyone of you who ever wrote a term-paper in one night knows what I’m talking about. This is mitigated by cutting things into chunks. Instead of looking at 5,000 pristine words, you’re thinking more about 500 words of questionable quality.

Second is marination. I might not consciously think about my blog posts when I’m cranking out 100 words a day, but you can be sure my subconscious is churning in the back of my head. It’s tying ideas together and creating aha moments. All those ideas are marinating and soaking every night, getting ready to come out the next day. That doesn’t happen when you do it all at once.

Last, writing every day makes you a better writer. Believe it or not, crafting gets better with practice.

So quit reading this shit and go write something.

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Everybody wants to write, but few have the discipline to follow through. Check out why and how I think a daily writing habit can help you develop your craft and reach your goals. Click to read more!
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My examples: writing, music, musing, birdhouse building