Establish a Writing Habit

Jul 18, 2016 | Better Writing

Writing well is good for you

Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man.
~ Francis Bacon

That’s insightful, but spare. Mike Figliuolo added some details in a recent post titled, “How frequently do you spend time writing?” Here’s the money quote.

Writing Makes You Better. Finding the time and a reason to write has many benefits – it makes you sharper, more articulate, helps you clarify your thoughts, and creates opportunities for you. It’s easy to rationalize you don’t have time or a reason to write. Reconsider that position and think through the many benefits of having a regular writing habit. Whether it’s journaling, blogging, white papers, or articles – writing will improve your skills and value to your company.

When your thoughts are all in your head, it seems like you’ve worked out all the important details. But when you start wrestling those same thoughts onto the page, things can seem very different.

Writing is a craft. You can learn to do it better. You can learn to do it well. But that won’t happen by accident. Start by creating a writing habit. Here’s how to make it stick.

Set aside times

Set aside a specific time to write. In the beginning, I suggest you try planning for two kinds of writing.

Set aside time every day for reflection and writing. Journaling is good. Even if you don’t keep a journal make sure you save what you write. If you write by hand, buy a notebook just for your writing. If you write on your computer, save your work. Your journaling or other free writing will get you in the habit of wrestling your thoughts onto the page and give you ideas for writing projects.

Set aside an hour or so every week to work on a writing project. It can be an article or speech or position paper, anything you choose.

Make it easy to write

Set things up so you don’t have to think about what you’re going to do when you write. That’s easy with journaling or writing random ideas. For more purposeful writing, do your research and planning before you sit down to write. If you make it easy to get to work, you’re more likely to do it

Track your results

If you want to write every day, set up a simple, visible way to track your results. That way you can’t fool yourself. Track whatever you want, journaling sessions, word count, time spent writing, whatever works for you. Make notes to help you remember why some days were good and others not so good.

Review your results

Once a week or so, review your results. Check your notes. Celebrate your improvement. Plan how you will do better.

Make it hard to quit

There will be days and weeks where things will not go as well as you want. That’s frustrating. You’ll be tempted to quit. You you probably won’t throw up your hands and quit forever. Instead, you decide that you just won’t write today. And then tomorrow. And then the day after that.

At some point you’ll realize that you’re not writing anymore. That won’t bother you much because your last memory of learning to write was frustration. You need something to keep you going, so you don’t quit on the installment plan.

Sliding into sloth is easy. Make it harder by engaging an accountability partner. An accountability partner should check on you to see how you’re doing. He or she should chide you when you want to give up, support you through the inevitable frustrating times, and celebrate success with you.

Bottom Line

Writing well gives you an edge in business and in life. Start your journey to better writing by establishing a writing habit.