Let’s call a spade, a spade: A book is A LOT of words. Even if you, say, blog a couple times a week, a couple thousand words at a time, you're producing 5,000 or so words a week. A book, on the other hand, is tens of thousands of words. In other words, it’s a lot more words than you’re used to writing. That said, you’re producing 5K words per week (good for you!), so you’re in good shape to build a daily writing habit. It doesn’t matter WHAT you’re writing. It just matters that you ARE writing.
“Writing is a muscle that gets stronger with use.”
If you’re not producing that many words (or any), don’t worry. You can get there, too. The way to train yourself to write daily is to just do it: Write every day. The way to do that without having it feel like a chore is to create a writing habit so it’s becomes part of your daily routine rather than something you “have” to do. But how? I have a few suggestions for you to get started.
The way to train yourself to write daily is to just do it: Write every day. (Tweet)
Track Your Progress
While you’re establishing a daily writing practice, or habit, experiment a bit and track your writing sessions. Keep track, in a notebook, a Google doc, or whatever format you prefer, the following information for each writing session:
- Words written.
- Feelings/notes. (Were you feeling inspired? Did the writing come easy?)
- Miscellaneous (anything else that might have affected the writing session).
An entry might look like this:
- 9:30 a.m.
- 25 min
- 650 words
- Home office
- Hard to get started but easy after 10 min in
- Roof construction at neighbor’s house across the street (LOUD)
While you’re establishing a daily writing practice, or habit, experiment a bit and track your writing sessions. (Tweet)
This record will help you see patterns once you’ve tracked for more than a few days. Maybe you’ll find that there’s too much noise in your neighborhood to write on weekday afternoons in the summer. (I live in a wonderful development that’s filled with kids riding their bikes and the teenagers across the street playing basketball, which is fun — except when I’m trying to write since mostly quiet is what works for me and I prefer to not use earbuds.) Maybe you’ll find that Starbucks is not a great spot for you but that the local mom-and-pop coffee house is. Maybe you’ll find that you’re just too tired mentally after a full workday to use your brain for writing. Track your sessions for a couple weeks (writing every day) and see what helps you be most productive.
Perfect Setup Syndrome
As you create a writing habit and establish your writing routine, do not get caught up in what I and others call perfect setup syndrome. Have you heard these types of excuses? “Oh, if I don't have my coffee in here on the right side of the computer instead of the left side of the computer, there goes my creativity.” Do not allow yourself get wrapped up in trying to create the perfect conditions and the perfect situation because, honestly, it’s more important to just write. You don’t need the perfect space, the perfect time of day, or more time. Remember: You have to MAKE time to write, not FIND it. Don’t let these things hold you back. Whatever the routine will be, create the routine and do it. Trust me: You can always find a reason NOT to write. But if you’ve created a daily habit, you won’t even think twice about doing it.
Use Your Voice
Does the thought of sitting at a computer for an extra hour each day make you want to forget the whole idea of writing a book? Don’t fret! Try speaking your book instead of typing. Download a voice-recording app or software onto your smartphone and simply dictate the first draft. You can actually write your book on the go. (You’ll have more work to do in the self-editing and revising stage, depending on the transcription, but if that’s what it takes for you to actually get a draft finished, then by all means, speak away.) One popular app is Rev.com, which costs $1 per minute as of this writing. There are many others to choose from, though.
Does the thought of sitting at a computer longer make you want to forget writing a book? Speak your book instead. (Tweet)
Be sure to track your speaking sessions just as you would writing sessions to see patterns with regard to time of day, location, and so forth.
As you can see, all of this advice points in one direction: Just write. Make sure that you write every day. The sooner you start doing this (ideally it’s before you’re ready to start a book-length manuscript), the better. Tell me in the comments about your daily writing habit!