Change Your Writing

What’s the one habit that will change your writing?

One of our Author Coaching clients, John, asked: "I want to set some writing goals, so I'm curious about your experience working with many other authors. How do you encourage them to build daily writing goals and habits? Are there goals that you've seen be most effective as you coached other authors?" Great questions from John, and we wanted to share them with you here.

It’s true, writing is a habit. “Writing requires writing. It demands work,” as we like to say. To do your best work, the type of work that isn’t compromised by noise and distraction, you need a writing habit.

Previously, we have recommended James Clear’s Atomic Habits. It’s a great book for building good habits (and maybe breaking some of those bad ones). As Clear points out, “You don’t rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” A writing habit is a system you develop for creating your content.

Here are three tips we give our clients when they are building out their writing habit:

Tip #1:
 Set a word count goal. A word count goal is a great first step for writing every day. Set it low, too. Maybe 250 words. We bet you’ll write more than that, but by keeping it low, you can build momentum. Momentum is a key idea to building a writing habit. Without it, you have to find ways of creating each day. That's energy you are not using to write. Word count gets straight to the heart of what you are trying to do - write.

But what about a writing space? Shouldn’t that be the first tip?

Some writers can’t write without their favorite mug, filled with coffee, next to them and their pen and journal in hand, at the precise time of day when they begin writing. It’s about ritual. We get it. But rituals get broken by holidays or interruptions. Rituals are susceptible to disrupting momentum.

“Writing requires writing. It demands work.”

Tip #2: Make Writing a Priority.
 Momentum can take a lot of forms, and one of the strongest forms of momentum is a daily streak. Writing ten days in a row, not wanting to break your streak, can get you back in the saddle for day #11. It’s a mental game, for sure. Those types of games can be really helpful when the creative juices aren’t flowing. When you combine a daily word count, especially a low one (like 250 words), with prioritization, that can be a powerful dual in creating your daily writing habit. The best example of prioritization comes from Stephen Covey, “If the big rocks don't go in first, they aren't going to fit in later.” Make writing one of your “big rocks.”

Tip #3:
 Deadlines. A deadline can help push you through when the writing slows down. Slogging through the writing, a deadline can be the rope to pull you out of that funk. No matter how lousy the daily sessions feel, a deadline can help push you to keep writing until the last minute on the very last day. Once a client signs a contract, we discuss with them how to hit their word count goal for their manuscript. Some authors like to break it down into words per day, others it’s by chapter. No matter what metric you use, giving yourself a deadline can help cut through distractions and the chaos of life. Plus, it’s fun to say, “I’m on a deadline here.”

For each of these tips, it’s important to remember: Process is personality. For some of our clients, they are juggling little ones or a full-time job. Some of them are business leaders with hectic schedules. For others, their ministry can be very demanding, especially around the holidays. Many writers trip over the morning writing routines. Life has demands that come before writing - we get it.  Whenever we give a writing tip, we like to remind them and you right now: your process should be in tune with your personality. What works best for Jon Acuff, might not work for you. The best habits are the ones that work for you.

If we could recommend one goal for every writer on this list, it would be to build a daily writing habit. If you already have a great writing routine, good for you. You’re doing the work! If you don’t, don’t sweat it. Now is the time to create one. Make building a daily writing routine, starting now.


Take Action: Schedule a one-on-one coaching call today.

Do you have questions you would like to ask one of our coaches?  Anyone can schedule a one-on-one coaching call with one of our agents. During this time, we teach and coach first-time and veteran authors interested in advancing their careers, using our unparalleled experience, hard-won wisdom, and industry-leading strengths to help them reach their full potential. Click here to learn more!


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