Writing habits: try this, not that

In my last post, I strongly suggested that practicing writing every day was the big Secret to becoming a better writer. Now, I don’t want to imply that is the only habit to incorporate into a writing discipline. It may be the most important one, but other habits exist that a writer should address. I’ve prioritized them–but remember, this is my opinion:

Do everyday if possible:

  • writing-write in short stints. Don’t wait for the big chunk of time in your busy schedule; when it arrives, use it for writing, but you’d be amazed how much you get done writing for fifteen minutes here, fifteen minutes there. Then when you have a whole Saturday morning free, use it to write as well.
  • reading-read the kind of books you want to write. Then read books from other genres. You may learn something you can incorporate into your own writing style.

Do a few times a month:

  • writer’s support group-this can be anything: critiquing each others’ work; sharing writing resources; encouraging each other to write consistently; or all of these or none of these. It should be a group of friends who make you feel inspired and keep you accountable.
  • blog or journal your writing progress-Oprah always said, “Write down what you eat if you want to lose weight.” Well, the same theory applies for writing a rough draft. Keep a log of how many words you write for each session- Keeping track of how much time you sit at the computer may be deceptive. A person can spend an hour “writing” but may actually be spending much of that playing on the internet. Also, blogging about your writing successes and failures can be therapeutic for you and helpful to others.

Do a few times a year:

  • read a book on writing-it’s okay to read books on writing, like Stephen King’s On Writing. Don’t make that be a substitute for actual writing.
  • take a course on writing-A course in writing fiction can really get you excited about the craft, and you can learn some techniques to improve your storytelling. Just make sure that after the course if over, you stay motivated.

Do once a year if you feel like it:

  • National Novel Writing Month-not for everyone, but highly recommended to get that rough draft done. http://www.nanowrimo.org
  • Copying a scene from your favorite novel-I’ve read about this in several different places. Take a few pages or a short your favorite novel and write it out by hand to learn to appreciate sentence structure and writing style. For fun, take different color markers and highlight the following: dialogue, action, inner monologue, inner emotion, description, flashback, narrative summary.

These are just some habits. Feel free to add to the list.

View my Consortium SF Series at Amazon.

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