Writing Habits: Myth or Essential?

tumblr_n0z1btdqUa1r47vufo1_1280Tell me in the comments: Are writing habits a myth or are they essential?

I.e. Do you think writers should write everyday? Do you think you should write a minimum amount of words per month or per month day? What does a writing habit mean to you? Does sticking to a set schedule or set of rules make you perform better or make you feel stressed? Does your schedule change with the time of day or time of year?

Share your writing habits/schedule/rules!

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10 Great Writing Tips, in Quotes

typeEveryone’s looking for the “rules” of getting published. I try to share some wisdom on my blog, but who am I kidding? There are no rules. However, here are some guidelines (in quote form!) for aspiring writers…

10 Great Writing Tips, in Quotes:

1. What works for other writers doesn’t have to work for you. It’s okay to make your own rules. And, what works for other writers often won’t work for you so it’s best not to compare your writing or your style to anyone else.

“Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle” — Jon Acuff

2. You don’t have to write every day. In fact, it’s perfectly okay to avoid burn out and take a day off. It doesn’t mean you’re not a writer.

“Hard scheduling rules — write every day! work on research for one hour each morning! exercise 10 hours a week! — deployed in isolation will lead to procrastination as soon as you start to violate them, which you almost certainly will do.” — Cal Newport

3. You have to make writing a priority, though. Even if it’s not everyday…

“I could not have written a novel if I hadn’t been a journalist first, because it taught me that there’s no muse that’s going to come down and bestow upon you the mood to write. You just have to do it. I’m definitely not precious.” — Gillian Flynn

4. Perfectionism doesn’t exist. There will never be a perfect first draft. Or any draft for that matter.

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft.” — Anne Lamott

5. In order to commercially succeed your writing has to be meaningful for others, not just yourself.

“When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored.” — Anne Lamott

6. You don’t need a complete outline in order to get started. You might not be a ‘plotter’ or a ‘pantser.’ All you need is the ambition to start.

“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” — E.L. Doctorow

7. Know why you write. That will get you through the days you won’t want start.

“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.” — Stephen King

8. The best way to hone your writing chops is to read. There is no better teacher or better research, just read.

“The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.” — Samuel Johnson

9. Your stories are all around you. You are living your ideas. You just need to open your mind and grab a notebook.

“Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.” — Orson Scott Card

10. You are the only one holding yourself back from writing your breakout novel.

“Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.” — Les Brown

How are you going to grab the reader’s attention in the first 5 pages?

It doesn’t matter how good the end of your book is if the reader isn’t swooped in by the beginning.

The beginning needs to be a mix of introduction, intrigue, quality writing–and it’s a precarious balance. Too plodding and you’ve lost us. Too much information and we’re drowning. There is no room for a slow start and making up time as you go. In fact, the beginning is the hardest and arguably most important part.

But it doesn’t stop at the first five pages. Perfecting those first pages are just the beginning. The whole book needs to be as perfect and well edited as those first five pages. If the beginning isn’t captivating no one will read to the middle and the end–no matter how good the middle and ending might be. So the entirety of the book rests on the quality of those first chapters.

I suppose my message is to write and edit those first 5 pages phenomenally well, but don’t stop. Apply that eagle eye to the whole novel to set a precedent for what is to come with each turning page.

‘Dos’ and ‘Don’ts’ for the start of your novel: Continue reading How are you going to grab the reader’s attention in the first 5 pages?