Saturday, April 9, 2011

Helpful Habits for Successful Writers

Having the good fortune of interacting with many successful freelance writers, I've noticed they have specific habits in common.

I'm not talking about quirks, as in: I can only write standing up, in longhand, on index cards, with a green ink pen, wearing a Lynyrd Skynyrd t-shirt.

No, I'm talking about habits. Good habits. Helpful habits. Habits that help a writer write.   

Here are some work habits of successful writers:
  • Read a lot - read books and articles you wish you had written.
  • Write a lot - just write. Writers write.
  • Listen to dialogue in everyday life - pay attention to how real people talk to one another.
  • Record ideas - carry a notebook, handheld recorder or cell phone and take written or verbal notes  when the idea hits. Flesh out as much as you can right then. Later, when you have time to write, the concept is vividly recorded.
  • Find your place - determine whether you work best with background noise or in complete silence. At a desk or on the sofa. Try different ways until you establish what is best for you.
  • Keep a schedule - maybe you're an early morning writer, a night owl, or perhaps you can't start writing until your email box is clear. Experiment until you determine a schedule that works for you and stick to it.
  • Establish daily goals - whether it's x number of pages, x number of words, or x number of articles, it's helpful to have an established goal each day.
What are your best writing habits?


  1. Fantastic list! I completely agree. One of my best writing habits is dedicating a certain amount of time to writing on a regular basis and sticking with it, even if I "don't feel like it" or don't seem like I am being productive that day. Also remember to reward yourself for small achievements and give yourself breaks.

  2. If I'm stuck mentally and can't pull the words out, I'll do a couple of things to get it going. Free write something, whether it's just pulling up notepad and writing nonsense or writing something to exercise my creative side (right now that's these blog posts). Other times I'll go play a game on FB and that takes the pressure off. Frustration equals the inability to write and the more frustrated I get the worse it gets.

  3. Fantastic tips for writers! The one I need to get better on is establishing daily goals.

  4. Read a lot is my favorite advice, so easy to follow!

  5. Great information. I tried to have a schedule but kept getting interrupted. Now I just go as I can.

  6. That's a grand list. I'm learning to take notes better. Otherwise I've forgotten some great ideas by the time I've changed rooms.

  7. Awesome list! I write every day, in silence, in my upstairs 'office'. I've tried to write in coffee houses, but I'm too distracted to get much done. A daily writing habit is so important to me, and weekends are tough because I stay out of my office. I love being with my kids and hubby, but look forward to the solitude of my Monday morning return to writing!

  8. Grea tips! I already practice some. But, I have to say since this challenge, it's been difficult to type up my handwritten stuf.

  9. I don't have many of these good habits, but I do read a lot, and I do jot down ideas as they hit me.

  10. Great list! I think reading a lot, and writing daily are the ones that work most for me.

  11. What you said - Time, place, goals.

  12. NICE information. I do all of the above except the schedule part. I really, really need to work on that. Great post!


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