More than any other piece of advice, what people most often ask me is how do I foster good writing habits to create as much content as I do each year. The simple answer is I write every day, but that isn’t what people want to hear. Writing every day sounds hard. It sounds nearly impossible.
Considering the amount of people (myself included) who try to break bad eating and exercise habits and fail, it’s no wonder we feel that way. We all wish there was an easy route to what we want to accomplish, but sadly, the difficult path is the only one that works.
But back up. Writing every day, while it might sound difficult and does take discipline, isn’t as hard as you might think. It just starts with consistency, and over time, you can build on that more and more.
When I say write every day, that doesn’t mean you have to write 2,000 words every day. Even a single sentence can be enough, but you must build the habit of writing something each day as a starting point.
Developing discipline as a writer is the same as any good habit (or bad habit you want to break). I’ve heard varying numbers about how long it takes to make or break a habit, but the general rule is that it takes a little over two months, or around 66 days for something to become routine—for eating and exercise habits too, by the way.
And I speak from experience, nothing is harder than the first two weeks of those 66 days, but if you can last that final push over two months, the third month is easy, and from there, it’s no longer a challenge to keep consistent.
That’s why I have repeatedly told people who ask me this question that NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month in November) is a great starting point for any writer to get into good habits with writing. It gives you your first 30 days right off the bat as a challenge. The trick is to not stop there.
Another exercise I took on last year was an AU (alternate universe) a day challenge for a full month, which can easily be tailored to be a prompt a day challenge if you prefer. In my case, I took one of my favorite fandoms, the superhero world of DC Comics, and chose a different universe to place those characters in each day, so ultimately, I was creating a unique story every time but with familiar faces.
Meaning, I wasn’t pumping out a full novel during this time like with NaNo, adding new chapters and scenes to a single story, I was dabbling in a different story every time I sat down to write.
You don’t have to add to the same project every day if you don’t feel inspired from one day to another, just write something, some amount, and if you do take a day off, make it only ONE DAY. Any more than that, and you risk breaking the path to a good habit.