How to Maintain Your Writing Habit

Welcome, Fantasy Nerds! Last time we talked about focusing on your writing and making it a priority. If you missed that post you can read it here. Now we want to share some tips on maintaining your writing habit. You’ve built up some excitement and figured out what to cut out to make room for your writing. Hopefully, you figured out a good time in your schedule to write and found some accountability. Now how do you keep that motivation going?

Track Your Progress

Having a way to track your progress is the first step to building and maintaining a writing routine. You can experiment with a number of ways to track your progress. You could try the most basic: find a planner or calendar you like and put Xs or make a note on days you write. Then, just try to keep the streak alive. For me it was always more satisfying to put stickers on my planner, so I used word count stickers for awhile. However, I found another way to track my progress that I’ve stuck with.

Now, I use a habit tracker in a bullet journal. This has been the most effective for me. The bullet journal allows you to be creative with whatever layout works best for you. I have some pictures of my favorite layout above. It’s really fun to decorate the pages and color in the boxes each day. It also allows you to track more habits than just writing. You can track any habits that would be helpful to your writing career; like reading, cutting TV time, and building your social media presence. Starting a bullet journal has really been a game changer for me. I also use the bullet journal to remind myself of my rewards…

Reward Yourself

I found that rewarding myself for my successes is crucial for the days that I just don’t feel like writing. I created a system that has worked well for me. Feel free to borrow it, or adjust it to fit your own needs. You can see the goals and rewards that I use in the pictures. I set monthly goals, and coordinate each one with an appropriate reward. For example, in order to renew my Scribbler box for the month, I must write a minimum of 4 days per week for the whole month. If I go above that and write 5 words in a week, I get a cup of coffee each week. If I manage 6 days a week for the whole month, I buy myself a writing book. 

The key is choosing rewards that will also help you with your goals, or at least not hinder them. You wouldn’t want the reward for limiting TV to be a Netflix binge. Try to pick things that will make writing more productive or fun. If you need a nicer pen or a new notebook, put that as a reward. 

It’s also important to be fair in the rewards you offer, so that you push yourself. If writing 2 days a week is really easy for you, don’t choose a reward for that. Use small rewards for the first goal that is achievable but pushes you a bit. Add better rewards for harder goals, and be honest with yourself about what is pushing yourself. At the same time, don’t make the goals so hard that you give up. Ideally, you should be reaching your first goal every month with little effort, but you shouldn’t be reaching your last goal every single month. You can also adjust our goals and rewards over time to continue to challenge yourself. 

I recently found another strategy to reward yourself called the “Habit Reward Lottery”, which I plan on trying myself. It uses intermittent reinforcement, and seems pretty fun. To make it work for writing, you would just pick a few writing related prizes that you need/want. You would write each of the prizes on a ticket, and mix them in with a bunch of blank tickets, maybe enough to total a month. Each time you write, you get to draw a ticket. Maybe you win a prize, maybe you don’t. At the end of the month you could leave the prizes you don’t get and add a couple more. You can read more about the habit at: https://patrikedblad.com/habits/intermittent-reinforcement/. For prize ideas, you can check out our post on gifts for writers.

Invest in Your Writing

One of the ways I get myself to the keyboard on the tough days is by reminding myself what I’ve invested in my writing career. What a waste the money I put into my website is, if I’m not writing my novel. Investing in your writing is also a way to show yourself and others that your writing is important. It can get you excited and motivated. 

Creating a website is just one way to invest in your writing career. You could also pay for a professional email that you use to send in your submissions. You can create a custom gmail account with GSuite. I use their basic plan for my author email, and it works well for what I need. You can also find information from Grammarly on writing a professional email here. This will help you structure an email to send in submissions, just relate this to writing and submissions instead of work emails. 

Other ways to invest are buying writing books, a magazine subscription, or even taking a writing class. You could also invest in writing software, or new pens. For some ideas on helpful writing books and tools, check out this post. Do what is right for your budget, but find some way to make enough of an investment to push you to invest your time in your writing too. 

Keep Things Exciting

One of the biggest things that most writers struggle with is loss of motivation, or writer’s block. It’s easy to get frustrated when you hit a block, and just give up. But what sets apart the people that finish their books is that they find a way to power through, even when they aren’t motivated. One of the things that I’ve found helpful with this is keeping writing exciting!

You can keep writing exciting by switching things up and trying new approaches. If you’ve started writing in order, and you get stuck on a scene with something you need to research or figure out, don’t just stop there. I like to make a note of the questions I need answered and jump to something I do know. If you don’t feel motivated to write the scene/project you are on now, jump to one that gets you excited! 

This approach is helpful because you don’t allow yourself to get stuck and you keep the writing momentum going. Most times I find that I can ponder/research the questions I’ve noted while I’m going about my day, and I will have it all click together. Then, I’m excited to revisit that old scene with my new ideas. Some of you may not like the idea of writing out of order on a story, but I suggest you try it just once. If you still can’t get past the out of order thing, try just switching projects or using a writing prompt to practice your skills while your imagination works on the stuck point in your book, it’s a great way to get your writer juices flowing! The key thing is not to give time for the frustration to build and stall your writing practice. 

Just a Reminder

We have a couple of really exciting things going on with the blog, that you may have read about in our earlier posts. First, our Facebook group “Clever & WTF’s Fantasy Nerds” has been off to a great start! Thank you to everyone that has joined and been so encouraging to their fellow writers! We are blown away by how active everyone has been and how we’ve all quickly made new friends. If you would like to join the group, you can find the info here

Also, our writing contest to win the title of “Clever&WTF’s Best New Writer of 2020” is open until the end of the month! The contest is open to all new writers, and preference will be given to previously unpublished authors (for purposes of this contest, posting to your own blog isn’t considered being published). We will publish the winner’s story on our blog along with a bio, including any links to your own blog, social media, or website. The deadline to submit is January 31st. We will notify the winner by February 17th and feature their story on February 23rd. To submit your short story, go to our contact page and paste your story in the body of the email. Please note if you are previously unpublished. We can’t wait to read your stories! 

What Do You Think?

Did you find our tips for maintaining your writing routine helpful? Which tips do you plan on trying out? We would love to hear how it goes! Do you have any tips that you would like to share? If you are looking for more posts on writing, you can check out our writer’s section.

If you found this post helpful, we would love for you to leave a comment, or even buy us a cup of coffee! We promise to share!

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Thanks so much for reading!

Clever & WTF

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