It’s one thing to call yourself a writer and quite another to actually write. So what separates the pros from the amateurs? Is it God-given talent? Natural skill? Or something else?
Real writers do one simple thing: they write every single day. Forming a daily writing habit isn’t easy. It forces you to give up your misconceptions about writing and embrace the truth. It’s not a gift; it’s a discipline.
Of course, we all have things we’ve been given, skills we inherited and opportunities we didn’t deserve. But what we do with those gifts and opportunities is what separates the outliers from the rest of the pack.
The difference between a professional and an amateur is simple — it’s practice. But that sounds a lot easier than it is. So how do you get up every day and write? This is the question that plagues those of us who struggle to stay motivated in our creative lives. We know we have something to say. We’re just not sure how to say it.
Fear is what holds us back. The trick is to form a habit, to get up and do it without thinking. That’s what the pros do. And it’s what you must do, too, if you’re going to get serious about your craft.
The three steps
There are three steps, I’ve found, to starting a daily writing habit:
- Pick a space. It can be your dining room table or a desk, even the couch. But the idea is that this is special, sacred even. It’s where inspiration happens. Try to set it apart.
- Set a time. It can be 5am or 11:30pm. Whatever it is, just try to make it consistent. You need to show up every day at this time and put your butt in the chair. It doesn’t matter if you have any idea what you’re going to write; until you commit to a time, you never will.
- Choose a goal. This can be a hundred words or a thousand words. Whatever it is, give yourself grace. Hemingway was renowned for writing 1500 words one day and 300 the next. In my experience, anything from 300-1000 is sufficient to forming a writing habit.
Do this over and over and over again, every day and every week. And within months, you’ll be surprised by how much easier writing comes to you.
Sounds too good to be true, right? I can already hear the objections…
“What if I don’t know what to write?”
That doesn’t matter. Write anyway. If you haven’t formed a habit yet, your writing may not be that good. All you’re trying to do is show up, to be consistent enough to start practicing and get good.
Still, if you need a prompt or two, here are some ideas:
- Write about your surroundings.
- Write about what you did today.
- Write a section of a chapter to that book you’ve been working on.
- Write a letter to your kids… or one to yourself.
- Write anything!
I’m not kidding when I say what you write about doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t. At the end of the day, there is one box you need to check, and it reads:
“Have I written?” (Check YES/NO)
If you miss your word count, blow your scheduled time, and write a bunch of malarkey — but you still get to check “yes” — then consider the day a success. Get up tomorrow and do it again.
It’s one thing to call yourself a writer; it’s quite another to actually write.
Ready to get started writing daily? Sign up for the My 500 Words Writing Challenge and get a prompt every day for a month to help you stay on track. Click here to get started.
Other writing resources
Do you write every day? Why or why not? Share in the comments.