We’re more than a week into National Novel Writing Month now, and if you’re doing it diligently, you may have begun to notice that the more you set aside some time during the day for your writing, the easier it becomes to set aside some time for writing on the next day, and the day after that, and the day after that. You’re cultivating a habit, a habit that will eventually evolve into a practice.
I don’t want to misrepresent the difficulty level to you, though. Because there are going to be days when life throws all sorts of distractions at you, as I discussed in my Election Night newsletter. You’ll want to write, but you’ll know you have other obligations to meet, and you’ll struggle to set aside some time for the actual writing. Especially if you’re tempted to carve out a portion of the day to “relax,” whether that’s watching television, or reading someone else’s novel, or… well, whatever it is you do to unwind. And the later in the day you do it, the harder it can become to tell yourself that, fully charged, what you really need to do right now is plunge yourself back into writing mode…
I’m wondering now if “habit” was the right word to use up above, because it implies a set mode of behavior that’s become so ingrained as to be unconscious—and writing is always a conscious choice. No matter how long you’ve been doing, no matter how firm a schedule you’ve established for yourself. You can have a daily assigned writing time, but when it comes around, you still need to make the deliberate choice to spend that time writing, even when you’re not sure you feel like it, and especially when you know you don’t feel like it.
And if you don’t have a fixed time on your schedule dedicated to writing, that deliberate choice becomes even more important. I mean, heck, I wound up not writing Tuesday’s newsletter until very early Wednesday morning, and all week long I’ve been playing catch-up, beginning each new installment shortly before midnight. It’s not an ideal situation, but I promised myself I was going to write a #NaNoWriMo newsletter every weekday, so I’m holding myself to that. (Maybe over the weekend I can do a mental reset, and put myself on a better schedule next week.)
The good news is that the more often you make that choice—the more you write—the more writing you get done. It sounds obvious when I lay it out that baldly, but it really is that simple. (Well, you might ask, what if all that writing I’m getting done is bad? And some of it might be! But learning to recognize bad writing is an important step in the process of cultivating good writing.) So be sure to make some time to write today—or tomorrow, if you got your writing done before you read this. Then, as soon as you’re done, start looking forward to the next opportunity you’ll have to write some more.