If you want to be a writer, you have to, well, write. It seems fairly easy, but there are still days that I find myself dragging and being all-too reluctant to put a pen to paper. But I do it anyway. Studies have shown that if you write every day, then the benefits increase — your creativity is more active, your style becomes more developed and you find inspiration easier. It’s a hard thing to do, writing every day, and I know, given my own life, it was easier to say I was too busy.
But I’m not. You’re not. If it’s important to you, you will write every day. It’s that old joke, right? “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?” “Practice, practice, practice.”
Well, we not only want to get to Carnegie Hall, we want to be first chair in the orchestra. And how do you do that?
Practice, practice, practice.
Here are some ideas and tips on how to make writing part of your daily life.
1. Schedule the Time You Write Every Day
This one seems a bit obvious, no? You won’t find those “little moments” of inspirational time where the words flow through you like wine out of the bottle — not between a job, a personal life, and a social world. Instead, you need to make time for inspiration. You need to set aside a particular moment of your day where you say, “This is when I write.” And then stick to it.
For me, I write every morning and every evening. I started off only writing in the early morning, right after my third cup of coffee to wake up. (On another note, coffee may be my biggest muse of all, honestly.)
I achieved this by setting an alarm. Every morning from 7 a.m. until 8 a.m., I sat in complete silence, save only for the clicking and clacking of my keyboard. Then my alarm went off, and I stopped. Some days I wanted to keep going, but, again, life gets in the way. Other days, it was a struggle, a push to get through that hour. Sometimes what I wrote was good. Most times it was pure garbage that I would have laughed at if it came across my desk. But, hey, that’s what the editing stage is for, right?
I quickly moved up my writing time to the evening as well, and I follow this strict regiment at least five days of the week. On the weekends, I’ll have it scheduled for a little bit later in the morning — 9 a.m. until 10 a.m. I never miss it. After two or three weeks, it was my habit, my life.
2. Keep a List of Writing Prompts Handy
One of the big things I had to overcome on my daily writing adventures was the lack of inspiration. I may have scheduled my time to write, but that didn’t mean the perfect words or ideas stuck down upon me like a thunderbolt each time. Instead, I visited multiple writing prompt sites and chose one at random. Usually, I wrote the prompt fairly quickly, and it only took up half of my time. But from there, because I was writing, I was feeling the inspiration flow, and I could keep going.
I have assembled a list of my favorite writing prompt websites here. I choose one of the sites at random (unless I’m working on a personal project) and pick the prompt at random as well.
3. Carry Around a Small Journal and Pen at All Times
I know, I know, we live in the 21st century, where tablets, iPads, iPhones, laptops, and every other piece of technology can be used to take notes. If you are dead set on those, then, by all means, use them.
From my experience in reporting and journalism, I got into the habit of carrying around a small notebook and pen in my back left pocket. Even though I schedule time to write, we all know that the urge, the need to write can occur at any time. I simply whip out my small notebook and jot down the notes, phrases, descriptions or thoughts that might manifest in front of me. I can use these to reference back later as I write during my scheduled time.
4. Embrace Research — and Know Research Happens All the Time
Research is a big part of writing. Every book, blog, journal and social media post you’ve read probably had some amount of research put into it. It can be anywhere from one other blog informing you to 300 books that you break down and annotate. But it also happens all the time.
Remember that notebook I told you to carry around? Use it to write notes about what happens in your daily life. A briefing meeting for your telemarketing job could inspire you to write pages and pages based on a few simple notes. A tour of a beer brewery could spark an idea for a blog post. A simple walk in the park, observing other people, could give you the basis of your next character. Research happens all the time. It is not contained to peer-reviewed articles or news stories or study write-ups. It is more than that. And if you embrace research as happening all the time and act accordingly, then each day you will be excited to put that pen to paper.
5. Start Now
Tomorrow is a far-off land that doesn’t really exist. Did you know that? Conceived as a fairy tale time, forged in the Circles of Dante’s Hell, Tomorrow only lives to tease you and create a distraction-filled, procrastination-abundant lifestyle.
Tomorrow does not exist. Right now does. If you want to be a writer — more than just in name only — you need to start as soon as possible. It doesn’t have to be an hour or two of writing. It can be 10, 15, 30 minutes. It can be five minutes. As long as you start today, the words will come out.
You get to Carnegie Hall by practicing. That practice only works in small steps, accumulating into that first chair progression we so desperately seek. Writers write, and successful, disciplined writers write every day.
These are just a few of the small steps you can take to writing every day. If you have more suggestions or ideas that worked for you, comment down below!