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The writing life is fraught with pitfalls. At any given moment, there are as many reasons not to sit down and write as there are reasons to sit down and write. It’s easy to let yourself slip into bad habits when it comes to writing. Here’s our take on what some of those bad habits are and how to beat them.
1. Procrastination. How to beat it: Keep a log of your writing goals. Write down how many pages you aspire to complete in a given week or how much revising you plan to do. Then, track your progress and treat your personal writing log as if a very demanding boss were going to see it!
2. Distraction. How to beat it: Don’t let yourself go online until a given time of day. Surround your writing space with images that make you think of your goals. Get your glass of water before you sit down to write. Put a “do not disturb” sign on the door and stick to it.
3. Giving in when you get a better offer. How to beat it: Each morning, jot down your goals for the day and carry the note around in your pocket. When you get a “better offer” (like a trip to the movies, or a rerun on TV), pull out your note and focus on your goals. If you like how your goals make you feel, skip the TV time and find your laptop.
4. Writing but not reading. How to beat it: Set aside fifteen minutes a day to read. You can do it. Just fifteen minutes. In order to be a strong writer, you’ve got to know what good writing looks like. Subscribe to literary journals. Buy books. Don’t get into the bad habit of being a writer but not a reader!
5. Not submitting. How to beat it: If you’re writing but not submitting, enlist help. You can contact a company like Writer’s Relief, or you can ask your kids, family, and friends to help you achieve your dreams. Throw a “pizza night” and ask your loved ones to help you stamp envelopes or print letters (but maybe not at the same time that you’re eating!). Or submit your writing online via email and submission managers—to save time and trees!
What bad habits are you guilty of, and what do you do to combat them? With the right mind-set, you too can go the distance and achieve your dreams. Swap out your bad habits for good habits, and you’ll see your writing career reach new heights!
QUESTION: Have you had success with these or other strategies? Please share your positive experiences with us!