We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. – Will Durant
I guess most of us have heard this phrase at some point and I’m rather fond of it to be honest. It leaves room for improvement, for change and for betterment. And it puts fate in our own hands. If we are what we repeatedly do, then we can change ourselves and our lives at any time by incorporating small repeated actions. Isn’t that great?
Though with fate in our own hands we must also carry the responsibility. We alone are the actual masters of our fate and it is up to us to rise to this challenge.
Do you have a writing routine? A daily schedule? If yes, bravo! If no, you may want to consider setting one up.
How do you gain strength? By working out a few times a week consistently. How do you learn to play the violin? By practicing regularly over a long period of time. How do you get better at writing? By actually writing on a regular basis.
You will get better at writing if you take the time to do it daily. And, what’s even more important, you’re making a habit out of it. Gone will be the days where you slack off or procrastinate. Waiting for inspiration is dangerous and futile and won’t get to to a finished book. But writing every day, even if it’s just for a little bit, will make a huge difference in a month and a year!
When you don't know what to write
Typically you should write down the story that you want to tell. Obviously. You don’t have to start at the beginning. Pick a scene that you want to write and put it on (digital) paper.
Though if you don’t know your story yet or if you lack some information and want to write something anyway, here is what you can do:
Pick a scene from your own life – it can be something that happened to you today or some time in your past, it can even be something you made up – and write about this one scene as vividly as possible.
An advanced variation of this is reading a book and imitating the style of this author in your writing exercises. Try this with different authors, with different genres and point of views. You will get a feeling of all those different style elements along the way.
How long or how many words as well as when and how often you want to write is totally up to you. I would suggest writing everyday, because that’s probably the easiest way to build a habit. But if you can only write certain days a week, then this is also perfectly fine.
As for a certain word count… I’m torn between setting a duration in which to write and setting a word count. Both have its ups and downs. Setting a word count can result in stress if you’re stuck and writing takes much longer than anticipated. On the other hand you do have a specific outcome which guarantees progress. If you set a time span to write, you may be able to write a lot of words and you can schedule the times more easily, but you may end up staring at a blank page throughout the time window.
Incorporating a specific time frame is way more manageable for me personally, but you have to figure out for yourself what you prefer. I do like the word count thing during NaNoWriMo though and look forward to this years event.
As for the amount of writing… this is very personal as well. Some people find it easy to write a few thousand words every day, but for most people this would be simply overwhelming. Especially if you’re just starting out, start small. Set a timer for a few minutes or try to write a hundred words and work yourself up.
I hope you’ve got some inspiration to start your own writing schedule, if you don’t have one already. Let me know what you think and how it works out for you.
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