Writing a novel or short story may seem easy, but that’s because you don’t see how much goes into it behind the scenes. From pre-writing to revision, writers have to put in hours of hard work and practice to hone their craft and produce quality content.
That’s why developing good writing habits are so important, especially if you want to write more than just the occasional personal essay or article. The following 10 tips can help you become a prolific writer in no time, so keep reading and get started.
1. Write Consistently
If you’re going to be an author, being a consistent writer is important. Like any great athlete, you have to train your muscles and brain for greatness. Create daily word count goals and aim to reach them every day. If you miss your goal one day, try harder tomorrow. Soon enough you’ll see yourself becoming more prolific with each passing month—and that’s when you’ll start seeing real results.
2. Organize Your Writing Process
If you can’t find time to write every day, at least figure out how you can get your butt in front of your computer consistently. One way is to build small writing sessions into your daily schedule. For example, take five minutes before you leave work each day to jot down ideas or outline your next story.
Write a few sentences while waiting for dinner to cook or during commercial breaks when watching TV with friends and family. You could even schedule writing hours on your calendar like an appointment—whatever it takes! Just make sure that whatever you do, you commit yourself to make writing part of your everyday routine so that it becomes second nature.
3. Block Time on Your Calendar
You don’t have to make writing a full-time job, but you do need to set aside time when you know you can write. Make it an appointment on your calendar and defend it like any other important meeting—it will keep you on track.
When your schedule is packed with meetings, lunches, and kids’ activities (and don’t forget about online distractions!), it can be hard to carve out dedicated writing time. Try setting aside 30 minutes in your day to start; once that becomes a habit, gradually increase that time until you reach one hour per day.
If that seems impossible at first, remember: It doesn’t matter how much time you spend writing; what matters is that you take advantage of every opportunity to write during that period.
4. Outline, Outline, Outline!
While you are writing, you should have an outline of your work. What is meant by that is that you should have an idea of what you’re going to write about and what direction it’s going to take.
This will help ensure that you stay on track with your ideas, in addition to organizing them better. If you aren’t sure how to create an outline, there are plenty of free resources online that can teach you how. (A simple Google search should suffice.)
5. Take Notes
Whether you have a specific idea in mind or are trying to brainstorm what to write next, writing down your thoughts can be extremely helpful. The process of transferring your thoughts from brain to paper will help you explore new ideas and collect information that could eventually form part of your story.
If you’re taking notes on your computer, consider storing these clippings in Evernote or an equivalent app so that you can access them on all of your devices.
6. Get Into the Groove
It’s hard to write when you don’t feel inspired, but sometimes we just need to get into our work. You may not be able to force inspiration, but there are several things you can do to establish your writing routine. We live in an incredibly distracting world with music and podcasts coming at us from every direction. If you want to protect your time as a writer, you must design your own space that is free of distractions.
7. Follow The 50/30/20 Rule
If you want to be more productive, you must pay attention to your diet. Eat lean meats and fish and vegetables while eliminating junk food. Along with eating healthy foods, it is also important to eat at regular intervals during the day so that your body always has enough energy. The 50/30/20 rule helps determine how many calories you need each day to maintain your health and lose weight if needed.
8. Read Extensively
The more you read, the better your writing becomes. Read both books and magazines that are associated with your field of interest. This will help to keep you up-to-date on changes in your field and also expand your vocabulary so that you can include better vocabulary in your writing.
It may seem odd, but reading fiction can help too—it helps expand your imagination and opens up new ideas. Try reading one nonfiction book and one fiction book per month. But remember: more is always better!
9. Stay Social (online and offline)
Get out there and meet people! Networking and socializing—even on Facebook or Twitter—is an important part of any career. It may sound trite, but, indeed, you never know who you might meet, or how that person could help your career. These are all great opportunities to improve your writing skills while meeting new people. If possible, network with other writers in your field; learn from their experiences and have them critique your work.
10. Don’t Worry About Perfection (write with your heart)
The best way to procrastinate and sabotage your writing is to get caught up in worrying about every little detail. You’ll never be able to predict if an idea will resonate with readers or if a sentence will be as perfect as you think it should be.
Focus on writing with passion, not perfectionism. Take risks As long as you have honesty and integrity in your work, everything else can work itself out.