How to Write More Often September 30, 2006Posted by LearningNerd in English, Language, Writing, Writing Basics.
If an infinite number of monkeys are typing on an infinite number of typewriters (or keyboards) for an infinite amount of time, they’ll eventually reproduce the entirety of Shakespeare’s work. This is known as the Infinite Monkey Theorem.
Similarly, the Write More Often Theorem states that if you spend enough time writing, you’ll eventually end up with something good. Aim for quantity, and quality will follow.
Step 1: Commit to Your Goal
If you haven’t already, see Nine Ways to Commit to Any Goal. You’ll need to be seriously committed to writing more often, since it’s one of those personal goals that are often superseded by other priorities. Don’t let yourself say, “I’ll get to it later.” You need to hammer it into your routine; once you get over that first hurdle, writing more often will be much easier.
Step 2: Join or Start a Writing Group
Getting involved in a community will make writing practice more fun. So, either join a group or get a writing buddy for one-on-one motivation. I’m one of almost 2,000 people on 43 Things trying to Write More.
If you’ve always wanted to write a novel, be sure to join NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) or the new BlogYoNoMo (Blog Your Novel Month). You might also want to check out Writing.com, one of the largest online writing communities.
Step 3: Make Time for Writing
I read somewhere that there’s no such thing as free time. That’s an excellent piece of advice for those of us who complain about not having enough of it. Instead of looking for nonexistent “free time”, make time. Evaluate and prioritize. Instead of watching TV or browsing through news sites, save a few minutes for writing.
Set a quota, like 30 minutes of writing or two typed pages a day. If writing practice is important to you, you’ll find a way to squeeze it into your schedule. Even if you can only set aside five minutes a day or ten minutes a week, it’s better than not writing at all just because you think you don’t have the time.
Step 4: Incorporate Writing Into Your Routine
Here are a few ideas to make writing a habit:
- Write as soon as you wake up. Work it into your morning routine, along with brushing your teeth and having breakfast.
- Write just before you go to sleep. Wind down and clear your mind by getting your thoughts on paper — this is a great time to do some freewriting!
- Write in small chunks throughout the day, in between your other activities (like before or after meals).
- Always keep a notebook (or PDA or PocketMod) handy so you can write in your free time. If you don’t mind getting stares, you could even write while you’re waiting in line somewhere.
- When writing for an extended period of time, take breaks at regular intervals. The rhythm will help you stay focused and keep track of your progress.
- For more tips and tricks, read 50 Strategies for Making Yourself Work, a great article aimed at professional writers who don’t write as much as they want to.
Step 5: Try Different Writing Activities
Writing practice should be enjoyable — or at least tolerable. Try starting a blog, keeping a personal journal, freewriting, or just exploring different genres and types of writing like poetry, short stories, news articles, and how-to guides. Contribute to wikis like Wikipedia and wikiHow. Get involved in a collaborative story or start your own. Even writing me an email counts for something!