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7 Key Tips for Establishing Good Writing Habits
If you’re like me, you have some writing goals for the new year. Maybe you aim to improve the quality of your writing for your work, to increase the speed at which you produce polished writing, or to write with greater regularity. Your writing goals may be personal; perhaps you want to join the ranks of people who keep a daily gratitude journal. Whatever your intentions, it’s important to establish good writing habits so you can achieve your goals. Below, I’ve provided my top writing tips to help you do so.
How to Establish Good Writing Habits in 2023
Tip #1: Create a schedule.
Scheduling your writing might be the most important piece of advice in this article. Simply put, what isn’t scheduled typically doesn’t happen. To establish good writing habits or create a daily practice (such as journaling), commit to a set time, such as every morning while you drink your coffee or tea. Notice how this new habit is incorporated into an existing one, which can make it easier to keep. For work-related writing, schedule time in your calendar. For instance, I do almost all content creation for clients (e.g., resume writing, ghostwriting) in the morning. I schedule blocks of time for this work. Once you have scheduled your time, keep your commitment to it by following the next tip…
Tip #2: Guard your writing time as sacred.
It can be ridiculously easy to bypass your scheduled writing time for something more urgent. I’ll just take care of these couple of important emails. I need to return the call that I missed before I work on my project. Do these situations sound familiar? If you’re working on a large project, such as a book, website text, or course curriculum, consider blocking several days for a writing retreat. During writing retreats, I produce large volumes of work quickly because I have no other distractions.
Scheduling your writing might be the most important piece of advice in this article. Simply put, what isn’t scheduled typically doesn’t happen.
Tip #3: Determine your pain points.
Reflect on what is holding you back. Is it that you schedule time, but don’t know what to write? If so, work on brainstorming your topic ideas in advance. Perhaps you spend time guessing where commas or semicolons should go. If that’s the case, then you need to brush up on your grammar. If you’re struggling to self-identify your pain points, talk to a trusted friend or coach. Having someone actively listening can help you pinpoint your top struggles. After you determine your pain points, tackle them one at a time to improve your writing incrementally. This brings me to my next point…
Tip #4: Be a lifelong learner.
Ernest Hemingway wrote that “we are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” What a liberating sentiment—even “expert” writers can still improve! If they can, you certainly can too. Adopt a mindset of lifelong learning. Once you’ve determined your pain points, seek out resources. These resources can be as simple as books on writing, grammar, or time management.
Tip #5: Set the bar low (at first).
Novelist Anne Lamott has written about “shitty first drafts.” These are the drafts in which you simply put your thoughts down on paper. When you initially draft something, don’t strive for perfection. Strive for completion. Aim to get your ideas documented, and then go from there. Don’t spend precious time poring over every word and comma when those ideas might go on the cutting room floor. Depending on what you’re writing, you might be done! This can be the case if you’re writing something that won’t be made public (e.g., journal or list of blog topics). If what you’re writing is for an outside audience (e.g., blog, client document, book), then you can acknowledge your accomplishment of getting the first draft written and then move on to revising and polishing.
Tip #6: Seek feedback.
Feedback can take many forms. For personal writing like a journal, you don’t need to discuss your writing with anyone unless that is your preference. For all other writing, asking for feedback is a critical step, so consider how you can incorporate this into your writing process. For blog or book writing, having an editor or proofreader can be invaluable because that person isn’t close to the project like you are. They will help catch issues of clarity, wordiness, logic, and, of course, grammar. If you choose not to work with an editor or proofreader, you can identify a writing partner with whom you swap work: they provide feedback on your writing, and you do so on theirs. These types of arrangements can be ongoing or project-based.
Tip #7: Read your writing out loud to catch errors and awkward phrases.
Before you hit “send” or “publish,” make sure you’ve read your writing out loud. This can feel quite tedious, but you will almost certainly notice an awkward phrase, repeated word, or some other type of error.
These tips can help you establish good writing habits that will improve both the efficiency and quality of your writing. But that’s not all. When you adopt strong writing habits, you will also find that you enjoy the process of writing even more, so it will no longer be just another thing on your to-do list. Whether writing is at the core of what you do for your work or is for personal fulfillment, it very well might become the most cherished part of your day.