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Get in the Habit

Five months into the new year and still don't have a writing habit going? Don't wait until 2007; dust off that old resolution now. Here are some tips to get you started.

Be realistic. Given your current responsibilities, what's realistically possible? What might have to give? Take a typical week and write down everything you did each day at the end of the day. When the week is over, see where your time goes. Then make some radical adjustments.

Set some short-term goals. Write 50 words a day for a week or two pages over the next two weekends. Use this as a warm-up to longer stretches of time.

Try the egg-timer approach. Set an egg timer for 15 minutes and write a fifteen-minute piece of poetry or prose. Aim to produce a rough draft during those fifteen minutes rather than just freewriting or journaling. Do this daily.

Let others know. We assume the significant others in our lives know how important writing is to us, but do they really know? Have you come right out and said it? Be sure to let friends and family know the specifics so that they can help support your writing habit too.

Touch your work every day. Just because you can't write every day, doesn't mean you can't keep up the continuity. Set aside time every day to look over whatever it is you're working on to keep it fresh in your mind. Always have a notebook close by for those aha moments that pop up during the day.

Don't beat yourself up. If at first you don't succeed, begin again. It's that simple. Sit down, say "begin again," and try to let go.

Give yourself some tough love. Once you get some semblance of a routine going, think about your current writerly aspiration: a short story to send out for publication in six months; a poetry collection in two years; a novel in this lifetime?

Once you name your aspiration, sit down and do the math. What kind of commitment will it take? Writing daily, on the weekends, taking classes, etc. Then give yourself some tough love to help yourself follow through. Tough love is not about beating yourself up, it's about pumping yourself up to follow your dream.

Copyright © 2003–2009 Angela Jane Fountas. All rights reserved.
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