I realised I haven’t uploaded a blog at all in 2018. Whoops. But, rather than chastise myself I’m going to take it as a sort of positive, because it’s a reflection of the fact I’ve been focusing more on my creative writing. Woohoo.
My writing year has got off to a positive start in a few ways, including acceptances from Dear Damsels, Ellipsis Zine, Cabinet of Heed, Riggwelter Press and 101 Words. (Can’t really believe it!) And, I’ve been throwing myself into some fantastic courses from the absolute bosses at Writers HQ and Write Like a Grrrl. Massive thank you to both these amazing orgs for their two-pronged attack in introducing me to ways to build up a daily writing habit. Or, as (the inspirational) Jane Bradley describes them: Brief Daily Sessions.
Before I embarked on these two writing arse kickers, writing every day seemed completely unrealistic and something that only famous authors and those people I’m constantly jealous of, do. I had swathes of time last year where I didn’t pick up my pen to write fiction in weeks, probably months. I was too busy, too fagged out or my brain resembled a desert with a ball of tumbleweed bobbing through it.
So, when Jane challenged us in week one of Write Like a Grrrl to get into the habit of Brief Daily Sessions (BDS), my first reaction was ‘I am going to fail at this’. But…the trick (she told us) is to start small and manageable. 15 minutes per day for at least five days out of the week. And, we had to keep a daily writing log to record a couple of lines about how we felt before and after writing or what stopped us if we didn’t manage on any given day. It didn’t have to be a few hundred words of perfect prose. It didn’t even have to be a new story or part of our WIPs. It could be some free writing, a prompt, a character development exercise or a mini flash.
It’s been about seven weeks since I started trying to build up this regular habit. I haven’t managed to write every single day tbf, but I have definitely learnt a lot. Including:
- I can ALWAYS find 15 minutes in a day if I put my mind to it, whether it’s in the morning before work or waiting for a train.
- I don’t always have to produce ‘something’. No word is wasted, even if it’s an exercise or a draft that goes nowhere.
- Keeping a daily log helps. I definitely like to see a visual representation of my progress. It makes me feel like I’m achieving something in baby steps.
- I have missed several days, but I haven’t been beating myself up about it. I know I can find 15 or 20 minutes another day, because I’ve already proved this to myself.
- Telling someone helps. I’ve been sending my Dad a message every time I do a BDS. Being accountable to someone means I’m more likely to do it.
- I waste SOOO much time doing unproductive things e.g. scrolling through my social media accounts.
- I don’t need the ‘perfect’ conditions for writing. E.g. a full clear day, no distractions, house spotless from top to bottom etc. I can pretty much scribble away anywhere, although I know that early in the morning is my most productive time.
- I have definitely been writing (and pre-writing/ aka daydreaming) much more since I started trying to build up a regular writing habit. Pretty cool!
It’s not easy and I definitely don’t think I’ll ever be an everyday writer. But I have been writing more regularly in short bursts. Trust me, if I can do it (procrastinator extraordinaire) then anyone can! It’s also about finding a habit that works for you. If it’s once per week for 30 minutes before the kids wake up, then go for it! Make that your habit.
For more advice from actual real experts I’d definitely recommend checking out Writers HQ and also an exciting new startup call Prolifiko which specialises in helping people achieve their writing goals.