Train Yourself To Be A Writer

be a writer

Don’t let time be the excuse to derail your dream to be a writer. Find time to write, make it a priority, and you’ll soon find it’s a hard habit to break.

Time is a limited commodity, and most of us claim to lack enough of it to feel fulfilled. Since you cannot do anything about the amount of time granted to you, the motive instead is to capitalize on the time you have.

Most writers believe they need deep pockets of time in order to write. Especially new ones. They earnestly hunt for serious minutes — if not hours — to sink into the creative spirit and mull words, only putting them on paper once the mind is in its proper setting.

Some throw in the need for a muse, that gut feeling that the stars have aligned and the story is ready to be told. Failure to find those hours and harness that muse usually leads to despair.

Listen, any writer doing this for a living has tossed those concepts out the window. The truth is, getting in your writing time is completely within your grasp.

Stop waiting and start writing

Do not wait for available hours. Write in snippets, no matter how small, and scout your day for those moments. The goal is two-fold, actually. First, to develop a habit of turning your writing on like a switch. Secondly, and probably the more important, is to develop a habit of looking for excuses to write (i.e., making other so-called necessities secondary to writing).

Before I went full-time with my writing, I worked the eight-to-five desk job making good money. But the itch to write more and get the ball rolling with a freelance career, if not novels, nagged me from sun-up to sun-down. So I started playing mental hooky in order to scratch that itch.

My trusty notepad went with me everywhere, not unusual for the day job, but it was likewise ever ready for story ideas, opportune dialogue heard on the elevator, or a character treatment. Whether seated in a staff meeting or waiting for the boss to see me, I dribbled concepts on papers. And instead of scanning my phone off and on throughout the day, I challenged myself to write. To reach for the phone was the reminder to stop and reach for the notepad.

Incentivize yourself

If you prefer a measurable goal, give it a word count. You will soon find that writing 500 words in a day is totally doable. After a couple of weeks, you will have developed a habit not only of nailing your word count, but of seeking pieces of day to squeeze in that count. Imagine reaching the end of a work day having already reached your 500 words. Now that’s fulfillment.

But you know what happens then? You get home and want to write more. You have that beautiful habit of finding snippets of time to write, so you decide to up your game. That itch loves to be scratched. Your daily word count can reach 700, 800, even 1,000 words, because once the 500 words become entrenched, you find the urge to throw a few more in there… because you have the time.

Soon you feel like you didn’t brush your teeth or your hair that day when you miss your writing or fall short of your word count. You can write 500 words before bed, during lunch, waiting in line somewhere in your car — even with a meal on your desk and your keyboard in front of you or pen and paper in your lap.

You habitually squeeze in the short times, because once you become eager to reach that daily goal, you push to find those moments. You train your eye and your ear in the process. Soon you’re saying, “Ooh, I need to write that down.”

Don’t be dissuaded

Family and friends can throw you on a guilt trip, for sure, but usually they follow your lead. Your habit becomes their habit. “She doesn’t drink soft drinks” or “he’s a bear without his eight hours of zzzzs” becomes, “she needs to write every day or she doesn’t feel human.” When you’re jotting down thoughts, nicely ask them not to interrupt. When your butt sits before the keyboard, you are working, not playing. It becomes as much a part of you as your eye color and freckles.

When my children were school-aged, they were told not to interrupt me in my “office” unless they were bleeding, throwing up, or the house was on fire. It remains a joke to this day. My steady devotion to my daily writing instilled in them a respect for it. They even learned to look at writing differently, taking it more serious. Writing was a part of the mother and the wife they knew.

But another fantastic perk to becoming a writing time-seeker and word count-achiever is that writing daily also makes you write faster. You have greased the wheels, so to speak. Habit teaches your mind to sync quicker when your hand touches the pen or your butt hits the chair. You do not have to remember where you left off.

Waiting for the longer periods of time to write hinders your overall aspiration to write. Self-sabotage. Don’t let time be the excuse to procrastinate. Build the habit, the pace, and retrain those around you. Awaken thinking about what to write that day. If you want to be a writer, make it a permanent part of your daily life.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. Have you been watching me haha! Waiting for ‘the perfect time’ to write…
    I’ve realised recently that it doesn’t exist after all. This is the way forward.
    Thank you so much for this… I’m off to scratch my itch… I may be there a while x

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