I am quite disciplined in my writing practice. I feel, for me, it’s important to be productive and to work to a schedule. I aim to be as professional as possible, even though there’s no money involved at this stage for me, I turn up every day and do the work.
Inspiration is lovely, but it’s not reliable. I work at it every day.
The trick, for me, was to build up to it. I studied the habits of people who are really good in their respective fields and figured out what was applicable to my situation, and then applied them.
- Start small. I have a general rule of two pages a day for first drafts in longhand or five when editing. I built that up through doing it every day. Start with as small an amount as you can easily manage. Use a calendar to mark off the days you achieve it. Jerry Seinfeld calls it a row of Xs.
- Stick to it for 30 days. The science behind this is that a practice like this creates neural pathways and you move the habit from the conscious to the unconscious.
- Finish what you start. Abandoned projects are part of the territory but seeing something through that doesn’t work is instructive. If you can balance your desire to be good with a little humility, then every mistake is not failure but feedback.
- Protect your writing time. I get up at 4 in the morning, it’s quiet and when I go to my day job, I know that no matter what else happens, I have attended to my heart’s purpose.
- Leave your completed first drafts alone once they’re finished for as long as possible. I set a reminder for eight weeks and in the meantime I am usually editing or working on something else. Editing is something worth a post on its own.