Habits

If you Google the word ‘Habit’, the definition is ‘a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up’ and even more enjoyably, the example given is, “he has an annoying habit of interrupting me” – I’d love to know the author behind that one – it’s not hard to imagine the morning they experienced before sitting down at work to generate definitions for the Google dictionary. Because, presumably, that is a job – and actually it’s not wholly unlike the job I’ve found myself doing for the past two months.

Because I am… currently… being… PAID TO WRITE!

Every aspiring author’s dream. Someone is giving me money in exchange for my words. And it feels amazing. It also feels a little bit surprising as what I am being paid to write is a far cry from children’s picture books and novels. Much like the Google dictionary examples author, I am being paid to write online content for a website but my exact job title hasn’t been divulged to me. It is a temporary cover job and I guess the closest I’ve come to being able to give it a title is “Business Analyst Marketing Person”.

But hey – it’s writing! It’s also given me a lot to think about with regards to my other writing. We will call that hobby writing for now, as it is yet to be published and no money has so far magically appeared as a result of it. I have learnt three things from my paid writing job which I have no doubt will help me to improve my hobby writing. I’ve also set three writing targets.

  1. Write Every Day

Business analysis and marketing is not something I planned to do but now I am doing it, I am loving it. I love writing everyday and I know that my writing is improving. Like any skill, the more you do it the better you’re going to get. It’s very easy with hobby writing to wait until you feel creative or put off writing because it isn’t paying bills or getting things done, but actually that just means it’s easy not to do it. Being forced to write every day (because hey, I’ve got targets and deadlines now – real accountability) means I have written every day and every day I write, what I write improves.
WRITING TARGET 1: Write 1000-2000 words a day in April to complete YA novel.

2. Do Your Research

There are lots of things I don’t know – Google is my friend at the moment. I am having to learn about things and conduct research and find out new knowledge that I didn’t ever know I would need. If I don’t do my research then writing these articles becomes a much greater challenge. This got me thinking – I don’t naturally lean towards research when I am hobby writing. I only write fiction – stuff I make up in my head – so what would I research exactly? Well, it turns out – there’s loads of stuff! The novel I am working on at the moment involves chapters which take place in a secondary school. Why wouldn’t I research what secondary school is like today? What it feels like to be a student in one? Of course I should!
WRITING TARGET 2: Interview our lovely neighbours who happen to be secondary school students – whose knowledge won’t be over a decade out of date…

3. Live and Breathe Your Writing

I expect if I manage points 1 and 2 then point 3 will happen naturally. At the moment I am bombarded with information about the businesses I am writing about. If I Google something then 5 minutes later more articles about it will appear in my Newsfeed, my phone will buzz with advertisements via social media on the topic – the more I research what I am writing, the more I am confronted by it. If I can harness the power of the algorithms through researching the right things, then my writing devices will literally embody my hobby writing. Likewise, the more frequently I sit down to write, the more I will be immersing myself in the world of my novel.
WRITING TARGET 3: Get lost in the world I am creating. This one is a bit abstract, but I think authors are allowed to get away with this sort of thing.

Habit: “a settled or regular tendency or practice” – this bit is the part which requires effort but the effort which goes into creating a regular practice of writing will inevitably lead to the exciting part which is when you make it ‘especially hard to give up’. Writing 2000 words a day in April is an ambitious but exciting challenge and I am looking forward to completing a first draft of the story I am planning.

Alternatively I’ve also read recently about ‘Piggybacking habits’ – this is where you attach one habit to another. For example, if you need to remember to take medicine in the morning you might put it next to your toothbrush. If you know you’re going to clean your teeth everyday then you can piggyback a new habit on at the same time.

Of course this opens up a whole world of writing possibilities – stanzas in the shower, limericks on the loo, perhaps a novel whilst I nap. Suddenly forming a new writing habit has never seemed so much fun!

Published by Charlie Bown

Children's Author

One thought on “Habits

  1. Yep, I’m definitely in the write every day camp, though my quota is a bit more lax at 250 words per day. But this has helped me write four novels, so I’d say writing every day is much more important than setting a high daily output. Wishing you all the best with your writing journey!

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