Today’s guest post is by blogger Julie Ellis.
What does it take to become a writer? Do you earn the title of author the moment your writing is published or the moment somebody pays you for it? Of course not! You become a writer when writing becomes part of your daily routine.
You become a writer when you write as if it is a job and not simply an activity in which you indulge when inspiration and spare time make it convenient to do so. Unfortunately, transitioning from a person who writes to a writer isn’t an easy task. If you are used to writing only when writing is easy, you’re going to struggle to sit at your workstation each day and produce something. When your initial efforts aren’t very good, and they won’t be, you’ll wonder why you bother.
This is when you’ll really need to commit to writing each day. Eventually, you’ll see your writing improve, and you’ll no longer have to wait for inspiration to produce great content.
Are you interested in making the transition? Here are five tips that you can use on your journey.
1. Make your goal measurable
If you have no way of measuring your progress, what’s the point? Begin by setting some challenging yet attainable marks toward which you can work. Once you find yourself easily meeting and exceeding those, you can set more challenging goals. The obvious question is, should your goals involve the amount of time spent writing or the amount of writing that you produce each day?
This depends. What has stopped you from writing every day in the past? Do you need to commit to spending more time at your desk, or do you need to force yourself to produce a meaningful amount of writing each day?
Once you have set your goal, write it down, and then keep a written log of your progress. This will ensure honesty and accuracy. Don’t be tempted to keep an estimated record of your progress in your head. You’ll be certain to fudge the numbers.
2. Don’t set too many parameters
If you believe that you have only made progress if your daily writing is publication worthy or is relevant to a current writing project, you’re probably not going to feel successful very often. Goals are important to keep you on task but don’t put such stringent limits on what you are going to count toward your daily writing marks that you never feel as if you’ve accomplished anything. Instead, set a few loose restrictions on what you will count as writing, and then feel free to count everything else toward your daily goals.
3. Always have available the means to write
Carry a pen and paper. Download a writer-friendly app to your smartphone. Do whatever it takes to make sure that you have a way to write things down when they come to you. Of course, as a writer, you should already be doing this. If you are not, now is a good time to start. You’ll have days where you don’t meet your goals, and there’s no shame in that. However, lack of pen and paper should never be the reason.
4. Take advantage of small increments of time throughout the day
If you think you need large blocks of time to get any writing done, it is time to reconsider. Think of writing the way you think of exercise. You may have been taught that working out is a waste of time unless you had thirty minutes or longer to commit. Now, you know this is not true. Even five or ten minutes of working out contributes to your fitness goals. Similarly, writing in five- to ten-minute blocks of time throughout the day will allow you to contribute significantly to your daily goals. Learn to identify those small moments of downtime and use them to write a paragraph or two.
If you still struggle to find enough time to meet your writing objectives, it might be time to consider your priorities. Is being a writer important to you? Is it important enough to wake up an hour earlier? Is it important enough to spend one less hour a day on Facebook?
There’s nothing at all wrong with being a person who occasionally writes for pleasure and personal enrichment. If, however, your goal is to become a writer, you will need to make time to write. In fact, a daily writing resolution like this is probably a good way to determine your level of commitment to the craft.
5. Make yourself accountable
One way to help ensure that you maintain the self-discipline to accomplish any goal is to let others know about your efforts. If you are a member of any writers’ organizations, or have friends who are also writers, let them know what you are trying to accomplish. Better yet, recruit your friends and fellow club members to join you. Then, make a commitment to follow up with one another. You’ll be much more likely to keep up with your daily writing if you have to report back to another person.
That’s it! Five tips to help you maximize the amount of writing you accomplish each day, measure your progress, and make writing a priority. You may have days when you can’t imagine accomplishing any amount of writing, but don’t be discouraged. You can make writing a daily habit if you stick with it. You’ll have to force yourself in the beginning, but if you keep going, you’ll eventually find yourself writing every day without thinking about it.
Julie Ellis is a professional blogger, majored in psychology and journalism. Combining those two career paths, Julie is a frequent contributor at LifeHack, Busines2Community. For more, follow Julie Ellis on Twitter.