365 Days of Writing

I’ve written every day for the past year, without fail. Not as an arbitrary challenge or as a conversation piece at parties, but to become a better writer. To establish a habit that is so ingrained in my being, that to not do it would feel unnatural, wrong.

Yeah, sorta like that.

The Habit

The most important part of establishing a habit is repetition. It’s not a habit if you’re not consistent. If you only do it once a week, it’s going to take a lot longer to cement itself (if it ever does). It’s got to be a routine, like brushing your teeth, taking a shower, or yelling at your coffee machine to work faster.

I write first thing in the morning. I write at other times too, but this is the one I don’t miss (I even coach other people on it). I sacrifice 45-60 minutes of time I would have otherwise been sleeping to do this. So I have incentive to use my time well. I also try to make it easy on myself. When I walk into the living room in the morning, the computer is waiting for me, the tea kettle is full of water, and all I need to do is press a button and sit down to write. Preparing these small things the night before can make a big difference. Remove any small obstacles that might make you consider doing another task first. Don’t check your email. Don’t look at your snapchats. Don’t start your workday. Not yet. This comes first. Continue reading →

Getting Up Bright & Early with Morning Pages

What is it?

From a practical sense, it’s writing every morning without fail. That’s it. Everyone has their own requirements when it comes to methods (how much? using what? what about?) but don’t let the details get you down. Just write.
For me, that currently involves a pad of paper and a pen (17 days straight so far). I find it helps me avoid the distractions that a computer might put in front of me. There’s no email or Facebook or Twitter calling to me. If you don’t have that particular issue, feel free to try typing (or use a device that makes it difficult to multitask, like an iPad). Be sure to use a fullscreen editor (such as Byword) to avoid visual distractions and really focus on putting those words down. There’s also something to be said for the tactile nature of writing by hand. It seems to engage a different part of the brain than typing. I don’t know if it’s actually any better for my writing, but I’m going with it for now. Continue reading →