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5 Ways to Build Better Writing Habits in 2017

best business writing tipsIt is a new year! And whether you set goals or make resolutions, for writers 2017 is literally a blank page waiting for your witty words. Unfortunately, the forward momentum tends to fizzle out by February. So how can writers stay motivated to write on a consistent basis? Check out these five tips for the answers:

  1. Make a Commitment

Life is demanding and there is no shortage of things clamoring for our attention. However, any new habit you make is going to require a commitment in order to see results. And sometimes that means something else takes a backseat or gets eliminated entirely. While most of us will put family and friends, along with work as their top priorities, what you need to figure out is where writing fits in on your to-do list. Is it more important than your weekly Netflix binge? How does it compare to how much time you spend on social media? Exercise? Writing doesn’t need to be the number one priority in your life, but in order to be consistent, and ultimately successful, it does need to be on the list and a serious part of your everyday routine.

  1.    Figure Out Your Motivation

Just like characters need motivation for their actions or to propel the story forward, writers need to discover what motivates them to write. Start by asking yourself why you want to write. Is it for fun or profit? Or do you believe you have a unique perspective to bring to a topic? Start by writing down three to five topics that interest you. Topics that you can really dig into. They don’t have to make sense to others, but they do have to be topics you feel you can personally invest in. Then keep coming back to them as you begin and build your writing habits. They could be just the ticket to bust you out of a rut on those days you feel you have nothing to write about or when you don’t feel like writing at all.

  1. Set Realistic Goals

Just how long does it take for a habit to form? Author Malcolm Gladwell popularized the 10,000-hour rule in his book Outliers: The Story of Success. Gladwell wrote that if you wanted to reach a world-class level at something, all you had to do was also practice for 10,000 hours. Another study suggests that on average it takes more than two months before a behavior becomes a habit. When you look at those numbers, it’s easy to get discouraged, so break it down into bite-size goals. Maybe writing every day isn’t feasible at the moment, so start with every other day and work towards the goal of every day. Same goes for the amount of time you write or how many words you want to knock out in a writing session. You want to make your goals challenging (more than you’re currently doing) but attainable so that you see progress and don’t give up.

  1.    Find a Buddy

Most fitness experts agree working out with a friend increases your chances of meeting your goals. The same principle holds true when it comes to writing and can be accomplished in two ways:

  • Join an online group – A friend who is in the home stretch of having her YA novel published drew strength from Twitter groups she joined. They gave her the encouragement and feedback she needed to refine her manuscript and keep writing. You can join more than one depending on how much priority you have given writing in your schedule. Be careful not to join so many that you don’t have time for actual writing.
  • Meet in person – Schedule regular meetings with other writers or even a writing mentor. It’s up to you whether they are one-on-one or more of a small group. Meeting face-to-face means you have, to be honest about your successes and failures. And you both don’t need to have the same goals; you just need to be able to offer support and accountability.  
  1.    Reward Yourself

Rewards are great motivators and can run the gamut from small to large. Small rewards can be used on a daily basis. For example, reward yourself with a decadent coffee or other sweet treat after you’ve put in a set amount of time writing. Some of the larger rewards can be a fancy pen and journal for capturing your ideas on the go. Or perhaps a writer’s retreat or workshop. There’s even a massage to help work out the kinks from being faithfully hunched over your keyboard. Whatever way you choose to reward yourself, make a list and hang it where you’ll see them daily so they can serve as an inspiration to write, write, and write! After all, who doesn’t enjoy having something to look forward to during the bleak winter months?
Tell us in the comments what tips you’ve found helpful when trying to write more consistently.  

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