Developing Good Writing Habits

How did you come up with your writing habits, if you have any?

Are you struggling with your blog writing?

At the beginning of my blogging journey, I spent so many days thinking about writing without actually writing anything.

It took a lot of effort to get around to writing.

If you’re struggling with your blog writing, you’re not alone.

Even the most talented and famous writers confess their struggles.

But I also hoped I’d get better at it as I practised.

That’s why I decided to write every day, just like I brush my teeth.

I was half asleep and half awake, brushing my teeth and staring at myself in the mirror, when I thought:

What if writing could become as natural as brushing my teeth?

We brush our teeth without thinking about doing it, right?

Imagine doing the same thing with writing.

Wouldn’t that be awesome?

So I thought I’d try.

And here’s the first thing I knew I had to:

I Asked Myself, “Why did I Start Writing?”

We don’t argue with ourselves about whether we should brush our teeth or not.

Everyone knows why we should.

Writing works the same way.

If we don’t have a “should” factor to make writing natural (or obligatory), we can never do it.

We need a powerful reason for wanting to write. 

Do you remember the reason you first started writing or wanted to?

That’s the key.

I had to keep reminding myself why I wanted to write in the first place.

Reinforce the reasons before going to bed and again after waking up.

I often talk to myself as I wake up still in half-sleep.

Get up, girl! You said you wanted to build a successful blog. Get up, put the kettle on, and start writing.

And that’s what I do.

On one of those days when your willpower is waning, try it.

Keep verbally reminding yourself why you started writing.

Now that you’re armed with the most important thing—your WHY—here are a few ideas that’ll help you keep going, as they helped me.

1. Treat Writing as If It were a Paid Job

I treat my blog writing as if it were my paid job.

I’m hired to go into a publishing house. Write it and get paid for it.

A boss is bearing down on me. There’s a deadline to meet. Will I not write until I complete it?

Treating it as a paid job has helped me establish my daily writing routines.

I usually start between 8:30 and 9:30. Intensely write for a minimum of 2 hours. I have an invisible sign that says:

Do not disturb me. I’m at work.

But you might fancy one of the actual signs like these.

2. Stay Consistent

Most successful bloggers have one thing in common: consistency.

I saw a question on Quora the other day: “How did YOU become a multi-millionaire?

The owner of Financial Samurai, Sam Dogen, gives seven reasons, and the last one is “unwavering consistency.”

He says:

….. I started the site in 2009 during the middle of the financial crisis and made a promise to publish 3X a week for 10 years in a row. I figured, if I could stay consistent all these years, the site would grow, allow me to leave my job, and earn me some online income and equity in the process. Almost 10 years later, it has done just that. A couple of my peers just sold their websites for $6M – $7M, but I plan to keep going because running Financial Samurai is fun!

Did you catch that?

He made a promise to himself that he’d publish three times a week for 10 years in a row!

Holy moly, right?

Don’t worry if you aren’t posting 2 or 3 times a week, though.

Publishing once a week is much better than once a month.

Each of us has our own goal.

What’s important is that we do it consistently.

3. Write Every Day Like Eating, Sleeping, and Yes, Brushing Teeth

A prolific writer, Stephen King, said,

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.

Stephen King

If you haven’t read his acclaimed book, On Writing, yet, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

This book is a memoir.

It’s fascinating to see a glimpse of the prominent writer’s lifelong journey.

But my real favourite author for writing is William Zinsser.

In his super awesome book, On Writing Well, he too said a writer must write every day to hone his writing skills.

He also questioned what we’d do if we were to go to work and get paid to write.

This is the best book for non-fiction writers and bloggers. 

The author is humorous and witty.

I absolutely loved his wordplay.

He conveys the points in a highly intelligent and stimulating way.

I don’t think I ever laughed as much while reading non-fiction books.

I thoroughly recommend it if you want to improve your writing or learn how to write well.

4. Don’t be Under Pressure to Publish Content Immediately

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to start writing in the morning and have a completed masterpiece (ha!) ready to publish by the same evening?

When you just plunge into the blogosphere, this is a feat to master.

It takes time and practice to become a speedy writer as well as a good writer.

After abandoning the blog for a month, I realised creating momentum was more important than finishing a post within the deadline.

It may sound contrary to “treat it like it’s a paid job” because we would be forced to meet a deadline as an employee.

But setting a tone as if it’s a paid job creates the discipline to carry the momentum.

I don’t put myself under the pressure that I have to publish immediately.

Instead, I focus on writing nonstop for a minimum of 2 hours.

It brings us to the next point:

5. Don’t Try to be Perfect

Many times, I would get confused over what I wrote.

I didn’t know what I was trying to say or where and how I wanted to structure a sentence, and so on.

Eventually, I got over this constant huddle of getting it right on the first attempt.

I started focusing on writing as thoughts came into me, pouring out everything.

I have so many drafts saved in my WordPress account.

I’m never 100% happy with finished or unfinished posts. In fact, a lot of them still make me cringe.

But I stick to my goal of keeping the momentum. Making progress.

6. Make Progress with Published Content

I know I already said not to be under pressure to publish content.

It’s an important mindset to build the momentum of writing every day.

But once writing every day became a routine, I had to make sure that I also published content at least once a week.

Preferably twice a week.

“Draft” in my WordPress is my work as an imaginary paid writer who goes to work and writes every day.

“Published” in my WordPress is my progress toward building a successful blog.

UPDATE: As soon as I made a habit of writing every day, I had to push myself further and started a 100 Day Publishing Blog Post Every Day Challenge. You can read more about it here.

Some people find writing easy. I find it hard.

So I need as much help as I can get from my environment.

Here are some of them.

Little Things that Help Me Write Every Day

Close Tabs

Distraction is a great enemy when we want to keep writing momentum.

It’s important to recognise our distraction and get rid of it.

At one point, I had about 20 tabs open in my Chrome browser. Crazy, right?

William Zinsser, in On Writing Well, emphasises that a clear thinker is a clear writer.

When my mind is muddled up, my writing reflects this.

The more tabs I have open on my PC, the messier my thoughts get and the more I get distracted.

Drink Lots Of Water

I had a fair amount of health issues in the past.

The starting point for getting my health back was drinking plenty of water.

This may sound trivial. But it took a significant effort for me since I never enjoyed drinking water.

I’m not a fan of soft drinks either.

The two most popular drinks in the world failed to appeal to me.

A year could pass without touching one soft drink.

But I drank an insane amount of coffee—up to 6 cups a day.

I’ve since reduced my coffee intake to 2 or 3 cups a day.

Coffee never interfered with my sleeping pattern.

But replacing it with water improved my complexion. I got my teeth back to their normal colour and kept the bowel movements regular (sorry, TMI!)

I feel happier and healthier, knowing I’m getting rid of toxins in the body by drinking plenty of water.

I’m definitely experiencing all the benefits of drinking water every day, as describe in WebMD’s 6 Reasons to Drink Water.

Stock Up on a Variety of Drinks

Along with drinking water every day, I also stock up on many types of tea.

It keeps me from having one thing too much.

Although too much coffee has been replaced with water, excessive water can be harmful too.

Since tea and coffee all contribute to our daily recommended intake of 8 glasses of water, I mix it up with plain water and all different teas, such as peppermint tea, ginger and lemon tea, green tea, chamomile tea, dandelion tea, and fennel tea.

Dandelion tea or coffee is a great alternative to caffeine-rich coffee.

It comes with lots of health benefits.

Take a Frequent Break

The bestsellers’ author, Dan Brown, is said to do sit-ups and push-ups every hour when he writes.

I can never imitate Dan Brown’s daily routine: waking up at 4 a.m. and writing until noon.

But taking a frequent break has become second nature after some practice.

I take a brief break during my two hours of intense writing and more frequent breaks during editing.

Rotating squats, planks, sit-ups, and push-ups helps the blood circulate. And there is my favourite mini-trampoline.

These simple exercises help ease rigid muscles from sitting too long and give my brain a respite to recharge.

Go Out for a Walk

I often struggle with depleted energy in the afternoon.

The choice then is whether I remain stuck with nothing to show for or go out and take a brief walk.

A walk never fails to renew me mentally and physically.

Take Several Small Meals

A big meal used to be a major distraction for me.

The preparation didn’t take long.

I often cooked a large meal for lunch and saved some for dinner.

But I’d end up eating it all in one sitting. It was a sign that I was under stress.

I now cook only a small portion of a meal.

I don’t fool myself; I’d leave the rest for dinner.

It’s better to be prudent with my expectations than to end up giving in again and stuffing myself with the leftovers.

A large meal makes me sluggish and uncomfortable.

A small meal is all the way now.

It helps me take a mini-break from work.

Final Thoughts

I wanted to make writing as natural as brushing my teeth because, unlike many bloggers, I find it super challenging.

I learned that the only way to make writing easy is to write every day.

Along the way, I found the little things mentioned above that helped me write every day.

My Favourite Writing Tools

Grammarly (Free) – a great writing tool. Help you with spelling and grammar errors. It’s SO worth it even if all you do is writing an email or on social media.

BlueHost – get a super easy and reliable hosting plan from BlueHost. They also give you a free domain name for one year. Sign up here and start your blog in a few minutes.

Namecheap – get a dirt-cheap domain name if you change your mind and fancy a new domain name later (like I did).

Tailwind – an absolute must-have for Pinterest to schedule hundreds and thousands of pins and save tons of time. Sign up here and get one month free!

Mailerlite – another must-have to create email marketing campaigns: sign up forms, landing pages, surveys and so on; free up to 1,000 subscribers.

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