Writing is hard work. And sometimes the hardest part is getting started. To write, you need to overcome inertia. The easiest way to overcome inertia is to create momentum. You do that by starting a writing habit.
The only way to get better at writing is to write every day. The only way to write every day is to pick a time, hold yourself accountable, then sit down and do it.
Here are three quick tips to help you just do it.
- Schedule a time and stick to it: If you really want to start writing, you need to write every day. Pick a time, ideally the same time every day, and block it out in your calendar. Yes, in your calendar. This is an appointment with yourself, and don’t forget it. Something between 20 and 40 minutes is a good place to start. Long enough to get some ideas on paper, short enough to stay on task and avoid frustration.
- Remove distractions: It’s really easy to not write. It’s easy to chase internet links. It’s easy to answer email or texts. It’s easy to turn on the TV. Close your internet browser, or use a distraction-free writing tool. Turn your cell phone on silent. You’re in a meeting. If it helps, move out of your regular work space.
- Choose a quantifiable goal: 200 words, 500 words, 1000 words. If you have a real measurable metric, you can stop kicking yourself about “enough”. You know what enough is. Did you write XXX words today? Then you wrote enough. Did you write more? Great! (It doesn’t count against tomorrows quota, though.) Do you like what you wrote? Who cares! The goal is to start writing. Is it good? That’s completely subjective. I recommend you go with the less subjective question: is it written down? Yes? Then it’s good.
If you feel stuck during your writing time, look around the room and write about the things you see. Write about what you want to write about. Write about your audience, or what you hope to accomplish with your writing. The important bit is to get words down on paper. As you write each day, it’ll get easier, you’ll become more focused, you’ll start to figure out how to write what you want to write.
Now here’s the bad news. It takes an average of 66 days to form a habit. I know, the internet is full of people telling you that 21 days is the magic number. There’s no magic number. Twenty-one days is a myth. But habits do form. You can make writing a part of your life. But it might take a while.
So you should probably get started now.