Creating a daily reading and writing habit is essential if you hope to become a good writer. As Stephen King put it in his book On Writing, ‘read a lot and write a lot, there’s no way round it, no shortcut as far as I know,’ and he should know!
So, how do you fit in these two essential activities. It depends on how serious you are about becoming a writer because that will determine how much effort you are willing to put in to make sure you get your writing and reading done. There are many people out there who talk about being a writer but never actually get any writing done… don’t be one of them!
Push Yourself and Commit to your Goal for a Month
One month is not too long in the grand scheme of things, so give yourself a ‘trial run,’ if you like. See what happens when you commit to a writing schedule for one whole month. Did you manage it? What writing did you have at the end of it? Did you enjoy it? Could you see yourself writing for a living?
If you work full time then you may have to get up earlier in order to fit in your writing. You will need to work out what number of words you can reasonably accomplish in the time you have and this will depend on how fast or slow you are able to write. I trained as a secretary so am able to touch type and reach very fast speeds, but there are other ways of getting your words down, such as dictation software.
If you push yourself you will be amazed at how many words you can get down in each session. When I signed up to do NaNoWriMo, the competition to write a novel in a month, I started a few days late so worked out that I needed to write at least 2,000 words a day to get to 50,000 words by the end of the month. My day job hours were 8:30am to 5pm but I still managed to hit my target pretty much every day. The days that I didn’t quite get to 2,000, I made up for at the next writing session.
Create a Permanent Habit
Once you have achieved your goal you have set a precedent for yourself. If you can do 2,000 words in one day, then you can do it every day. If you commit to your goal for a month, then you have created a permanent habit.
Instead of Watching TV…Read
Reading every day should be the easy part; it certainly is for me. Hopefully, it’s the whole reason you became a writer in the first place so it shouldn’t be a chore. Get into the habit of taking a book with you wherever you go and then you can dip into it whenever you have any spare time. Lunch breaks, waiting for appointments, at the end of the day when you need to relax and unwind; these are the moments to get out your book and read.
If you automatically put the TV on in the evening, as many people do, consider changing this habit. Carefully choose only the particular programs that you really want to see. When the program has finished, switch the TV off. It may take some self-discipline at first, but doing this will free up so much time and you will feel much better and more in control and that’s got to be worth something, right?
My free e-book, 50 tips to kick-start your writing, includes a section on ‘making time to write’ as well as lots of other tips and ideas to help with your writing.
Please do leave a comment and let me know your own thoughts on this topic.