Writing classes at the Academy ended in June (congrats to all of the students who completed the spring semester classes!), and here at Inkwell Scholars I’ve been enjoying these lazy summer days and all of the time I’ve been able to devote to numerous hobbies.
But, unfortunately, this means that I’ve been finding myself writing less and less. And that means my writing muscle is beginning to atrophy. Help!
In today’s post, I’ll share several very effective ways to train oneself to write daily all while having fun.
The Importance of Writing Every Day
The novelist Ray Bradbury once noted, “I know you’ve heard it a thousand times before. But it’s true – hard work pays off. If you want to be good, you have to practice, practice, practice.”
Ultimately, if you need 10,000 hours of practice to truly become an expert in your craft, then writing every day is the quickest way to start racking up those hours in order to become a master wordsmith.
Writing daily has other benefits besides helping you hone your writing skills. It forces you to clarify your thoughts and arrange them logically. It helps you become a more creative person because you must think up new ideas each day to write about. And, finally, it gives you a constructive way to redeem the time by training you to work productively every day. Who knows? Maybe one day you’ll end up on this list.
Of course, if you’re not used to writing regularly, you’ll probably find it difficult at first. I know I do. I make excuses that I don’t have enough time, that I have other more important things to do, that I have no idea what to write about, that I’m suffering from an incurable form of writer’s block. However, these are all rather bad excuses. Because writing every day actually boosts your creativity, it helps you overcome writer’s block. Writer’s block is more difficult to beat if you write only sporadically, because then writing is unnatural rather than being second nature. Ultimately, when you start writing every day, eventually it becomes easier and easier to write every day.
Here’s how to get started.
7 Tips & Tactics for Writing Daily
1. Make It A Habit
If you are going to train yourself to write consistently every day, it must become a natural habit like eating dinner or brushing your teeth. Work it into your schedule so that it becomes something that you truly miss if you forget to do it. Try to set aside a specific chunk of time in your schedule when you know you will be free. Usually, early mornings when you first wake up are best (your day hasn’t gotten crazily busy yet), but evenings might also work for you if that’s when you have free time, maybe right before you go to bed if you’re not too tired.
The important thing is to choose a block of time (say, 8:30 in the morning) and always write at that time until your brain becomes so used to writing at 8:30 that it automatically focuses and switches into “writing mode” at 8:30 in the morning. To further condition your brain into “writing mode,” choose a special place to write and always return to that place when it’s time for your writing sessions. This should be a relatively quiet place where you know you will be able to write for a set period of time and not be disturbed. If you have trouble focusing, then you should check out the Pomodoro Technique. You can read more about that here.
Here is how Ernest Hemingway described his daily writing practice: “When I am working on a book or a story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write. You read what you have written and, as you always stop when you know what is going to happen next, you go on from there. You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit it again.”
I love Hemingway’s advice for not using up all of one’s inspiration. If you’re working on a piece of writing that isn’t finished by the end of your writing session, make sure you leave off at a place where you still have an idea of how you want to move forward the next day. This will prevent writer’s block.
2. Start Small
As I mentioned before, if you’re not used to writing daily, you’ll probably find it a bit difficult to stay on track when you first start out. Don’t let that discourage you. You obviously don’t have to write a novel in your first week, and you certainly don’t have to write for two hours each day. The important thing as you take your beginning steps is just to write, to feel the words flowing from your fingers. Set small goals for yourself that you know you can accomplish and gradually build up to longer writing periods. That first week you might just challenge yourself to write for ten minutes each day or maybe just set a small word count for yourself. Be careful though. Writing has a way of drawing you in, and soon you might be finding it harder to stop than it was to begin.
3. Find A Writing Partner
When I was in middle school, my friends and I started a writing club. We’d meet once a week and share the stories we were working on. This was a great way for us to stay motivated and receive feedback on our writing. Now, I like to meet up sometimes with friends for writing sessions. It helps me to focus when I’m working on a story when I know my friend is busy writing too. If you enjoy working with others, then finding a writing partner might be the perfect way to spice up your daily writing sessions. You might not be able to meet up with your friends for every single writing session, but they can certainly hold you accountable and can critique your writing. Writers often find their best ideas when brainstorming with others.
4. Keep a Journal or Start a Blog
You can also hold yourself accountable and watch your writing grow by keeping a journal or starting a blog (depending on whether you want to keep your writing private or share it with the world). Find out more about starting a journal in this post. A journal or blog allows you to keep all of your writing in one central location. You can set up a free blog at a service like WordPress. Blogging lets you share your writing with others, and ultimately that’s one of the end goals of writing. The writer is not to be shut up in a room all by himself, banging away on his typewriter, and then hiding his writing away in a drawer. Rather, writing is a communal art, like music or painting. Even if you write everyday, that writing will only be truly alive if others read it and are moved by your turn of phrase. One of the main purposes of writing (and of art in general) is to uplift, encourage, and inspire others. At first, you might be hesitant to share your work, but as you continue to write each day, you will become more and more confident with your writing ability and better able to teach and inspire others.
5. Follow Writing Prompts
Inevitably, you will come to a writing session and really have no idea what to write about. This is a great time to use pre-written prompts. Like an essay assignment, a short prompt tells you exactly what to write about. I know some people who have gotten ideas for novels from work that they did while following a prompt. Here at Inkwell Scholars I’ve compiled a free book with 31 writing prompts (you can download it right from our homepage).
6. Experiment With Different Kinds of Writing
Writing sessions are also a great time to experiment with different kinds of writing. If you usually write nonfiction, then why not spend a writing session trying your hand at fiction. Maybe attempt writing a poem or recounting a story that happened in your own life. When you’re first starting out with your daily writing practice, try to find the type of writing that is easiest and most enjoyable for you, the kind of writing that you get excited for and look forward to each day. You might want to try writing a novel (just for the fun of it). You’ll have to continue the story each day so you’ll always have something to write about.
7. Read More Books
Finally, in order to truly improve your writing skills, you must read as well as write. The best way to learn how to write well is to study the masters, and then practice, practice, practice. Read as much as you can as often as you can. Pay attention to the author’s grammar and style. If you have a favorite author, try to imitate his or her voice in your own writing. For instance, after reading several Sherlock Holmes stories, I tried writing my own detective fiction in the same style. Reading will inspire you to write more.
Do you write every day or are planning to begin a daily writing session? What are some tips and tactics that you found helpful? Feel free to share an excerpt from your daily writing or a link to your blog in the comments below.