How Your Habits Help You Write a Book

Today’s guest post is by author and writing instructor Alex Strike:

Writing is not an easy process at all. I’d realized it once I tried to write my very first article on the topic of gambling. Yes, the topic is not the best and noblest one, but even something seemingly easy to write about posed a problem for me. Have you ever tried to describe the rules of playing blackjack in a way that it would be interesting even for people who had never heard of this game at all? Believe me, it is not easy.

And now, when some of my friends try to persuade me that every person can write, I just smile and do not even try to change their minds because it would simply be a waste of time. To understand the process of writing, one should try writing at least something.

Now that I have more than a hundred articles published, I’ve changed my mind about writing, and I can’t imagine how I could have lived without it before. I’ve started my first book, and I use everything that can help me to write faster and better–even my habits.

It’s surprising how your habits help you write! Do you want to know what habits you can use to improve your writing? Well, I will try to explain it to you.

Are You a Visualizer?

I am. When someone tells me a story or a situation that happened to him, I can imagine and visualize it at once. Just try to imagine yourself sitting at the computer and typing the next chapter of your future book. Can you see how your story is being born word by word? This is a great technique to wake up your muse and start writing. Just try it. I am doing it right now actually; I am writing these words and see myself typing them.

Well, I agree that it sounds a bit strange, but it really works.

Are You a Time Manager?

Have you heard of Stephen King? Sure you have. He has a habit (well, he developed this habit) of writing a thousand words every day. A writer should always find time for writing if he wants to start and finish his book. One should be a good time manager to arrange a day in a way to find time for everything (work, hobbies, spending time with family), including the process of writing.

So having a habit of managing your time every day can help you a lot. You will definitely finish your book … in time.

Are You a Perfectionist?

I am. And that is why it was really difficult for me to develop the habit of acceptance. I wanted my articles and stories to look perfect from the very beginning, and that is why I thought a lot about every sentence and phrase to use, but that was my main mistake.

Try to accept your writing as it is. Writing is a process, so, just write as if you were talking to your friends and telling them a story. You will always have time to proofread your writing and make all necessary changes afterward. The habit of acceptance can help you more than you think: it will save your time on writing, as you will not sit and think on every sentence for hours.

Are You Easy to Distract?

Nothing can be worse for a writer than distractions! And if you are easy to distract, then get ready to fail with finishing your first (and only) book. Develop the habit of ignoring different kinds of distractions (birds singing outside the window, for example, or your kids watching TV in the room next to yours), as they are the killers of your inspiration if you pay attention to them.

When I write, the only thing I hear is music in my headphones. And when the members of my family see me in these headphones, they understand that I am “out.” I turn my phone off, forget about my social networks and e-mails … Well, a cup of coffee still distracts me from time to time, but it inspires me as well, so, this is not a problem at all.

Are You a Reader?

You can’t be a writer if you do not like reading. Believe me! (well, and Stephen King too, as it was he who described this in his book On Writing). Try to develop a habit of reading every day, and discover new authors and their styles for yourself, as they can easily inspire you on writing your own masterpiece.

I read every day, even if it is just one page of an ebook. Try to schedule time for reading every day, and you will soon see how much easier, faster, and more pleasant the process of your writing becomes.

And One Bonus Tip from a Crazy Author

Always open your mind to new ideas even if they look totally crazy at the first sight. You can find inspiration everywhere: music, children, nature, new billboards in the streets, movies, your neighbor, etc. Your future protagonist can come to you in dreams or say you hello in the queue of a supermarket. The main thing is not to pass by him.

And (what is even better): write your ideas down once they appear! Yes, even if it happens at night. Just have a pen and a notebook nearby. Believe me, you will forget your cool ideas once you’ve woken up the next morning. Yes, writing all ideas down can become a very good habit of every author as well.

Featured Photo Credit: John Althouse Cohen via Compfight cc

Alex Strike is a passionate blogger and writer. He works with Writing Help, a writing service website that helps students reach their academic goals and come up with new ideas for essay writing. You can find Alex on Google+, or read some more information about him here.

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  1. Great article, Alex. I suffer (off and on) from most of these things, especially being distracted and at the same time being a perfectionist. Yikes! No wonder it took me a LONG time to write my first book, a memoir. I’ve learned a lot since I first began working on it and I know that I’ll have a handle on things, at least a little better, on my sequel!

    1. Hello Traci!

      Thank you for your comment, and you are always welcome. I spend much more time on writing than reading at the moment, so, this is a great reminder for me as well 🙂

  2. Thanks for the tips. My greatest problem is distractions. I am so easily distracted, not always by other things, but sometimes by thoughts in my mind. This affects not only my writing but most every area of my life. Focus is the word of the year for me 🙂

    1. Hello Michael!

      You know, distractions are probably the problem of ALL creative people 🙂 I am distracted by my thoughts sometimes as well, and it drives me crazy because I forget what I wanted to write. So, I agree with you as for the word of the year.


      1. These were great tips. I also get distracted as I write in a room where the street noises come right in the window. There are also noisy pigeons trying to roost on our back balcony. I just have to try and get so interested in what I’m writing that I tune them out.

        1. Pigeons? 🙂 My problem is my cat! She’s always trying to come into the room when I am concentrated on writing. Her meowing is difficult to ignore, you know.

  3. Wonderful post. In my own career I’ve been a vicious rule-breaker. A veritable 14 year old with attitude about doing what I’m told I should, or practicing for the sake of practice. Writing has been my profession for more than two-decades and so I know I have a solid foundation in the business. I also know I have a lot to learn. I’ll always have a lot to learn. The day will never come when I can sit back and knock out a stellar column, short-story, or book with the confidence that I’ve done everything exactly right. Thank heavens for editors. I’d be lost without them.

    However, after more than a decade of writing a weekly column for a daily newspaper, nearly as long writing a weekly column for a national aviation oriented publication, monthly stories in a variety of magazines, a novel, a few novellas, and a short-story or two, I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on how I write. That’s not to say I know how anyone else should write. But I can heartily agree with the tone and tenor of this post. If the individual wants to write, then write. Accept that it will be less than stunning initially. That’s true for most of us. Our failings are the reason we edit, polish, proof-read, edit more, use beta-readers, and finally submit what we hope is a well crafted piece of work. Even then we have to be prepared for the reality that our editor may cut or amend our text for length, style, content, or any number or personal whims we have no advanced knowledge of.

    It’s worth it just the same. Write. Write often. Write what you know, but respect that you know a lot and don’t have to stick to one narrow perspective in your work. Be bold and dare to be a good storyteller. It’s a satisfying career that just happens to be an art form when done well. So do it well. Try anyway. That’s all any of us can do.

    1. I have the same friend actually! She uses everything (literally!) to design her room. Her old T-shirts become pictures on walls, that’s amazing!

  4. I would like to sign up to be reminded by email that you have a new posting, but this link seems to be disabled. Or is it me?!

    1. Beth, all you have to do is put your email in the subscribe by email bar on the right side of the blog’s home page. You will then be sent all the posts when they come out, thanks!

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