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8 strategies for showing up for your writing

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Developing a daily writing habit is a common recommendation among writers.

"Showing up is the hard part."

"Protect your writing time."

"Morning pages!"

These are just a few. There is plenty of advice out there on how to sit your butt down and write the novel that has been sitting rent-free in your head for years. I've tried many of them; some work, some don't. And this was the biggest lesson of all for me - showing up for your writing is a deeply personal thing. It's great to look at others and borrow their strategies, but someone else's full package of showing up to write isn't likely to suit your own needs. I've learned from others and adapted my approach to suit me, and now I'm sharing some of these with you. I hope you find at least one helpful, and wish you all the best on your writing journey!

1. Be kind to yourself

On the busiest, most stressful days, I don't write. I won't enjoy it, and I will likely delete everything I write that day later as I can tell my heart wasn't in it. I might write a few ideas down if I have them but I can't find the motivation to do any writing, and I accept that as a success for the day. Writing is supposed to be enjoyable. If you don't find joy in it, don't do it. Your work in progress will be there for you when you are ready.

2. Mixing up your daily goals

If my goal of x amount of words or x amount of time on a day where these goals don't suit my needs, I'll mix it up. One day I might have a word goal; the next might be outlining a chapter I am excited about. It's essential to recognise how I'm feeling and what appears achievable. There is no point in setting yourself a rigid goal if you are going to miss it (and feel bad) or force yourself to reach it (and burn out after the initial, "Yay, I did it!" feeling).

3. Don't write in order

I always thought I had to write my short stories and novels in the order they would be read. I mean, that's how I read books, so surely that's how they must be written?! My logic seemed sound, but this rigidity meant that I was giving up because I wanted to get to this scene in the middle of the book, but I had so many more chapters to write before that. It didn't help that I was writing on a typewriter, and skipping ahead and going back seemed to make writing out of order more challenging. After seeing how others work (i.e., writing [something happens here] and moving on), I finally realised that I could write in any order I wanted! So I did, and it's made a huge difference. The last scene of my current WIP has already been written. It might change by the time I'm done, but it's in writing this scene that I've been able to move forward and write the scenes that happen before it.

4. Create a space within a space

Some people can write anywhere. Some people have a dedicated writing space. For me, I have a hybrid setup. I can write in places other than my desk, but I have a mobile setup to help me get into writing mode. Earbuds, writing playlist, warm drink (that I will inevitably forget about), notepad and coloured pens. If I'm home, a candle helps me focus, too. I also have a designated "writing" keyboard that clickity clacks like a typewriter (Honestly, it's amazing and the best purchase I've ever made. Interested? Link here!) These things help me recognise that it's time to focus on writing.

5. Routine

This site helps me keep a regular routine! I usually know where I want a story to go and draft this early. However, the stories often need a rewrite once the votes come in and the story changes direction. This process puts me into "writer mode" and often spills over to my longer work in progress. I'm open to other writers who might want to contribute to The Readily, so do get in touch if you'd like to collaborate!

6. A new project

I am working on more than one longer work in progress. Some say this is a bad idea. But, if I'm stuck on a project, I'm getting annoyed with my characters or I just need a break, I work on another project. It means that each novel will take longer, but this works best for me. And I'll have a suite of stories to share with the world all at once one day!

7. Buddying up

Writing can be a lonely experience. And if you are not accountable to anyone and don't have a deadline to meet, it can be hard to stay on track. An accountability buddy can often help keep you focused on the task at hand and has become increasingly common for those who struggle to concentrate while working from home. You could also ask a friend to buddy with you even if they aren't writers. Sometimes, just knowing someone is there (virtually) focused on a task can help you stay on track, too.

8. Community If you are stuck, uninspired, unmotivated etc then reach out to the online virtual community! Threads is now building a wonderful virtual reading and writing community. Ask your questions, ask for some good vibes on a bad day, say hello and ask what everyone is reading. Although, perhaps set yourself a timer so you don't spend all day on social media and forget to write... Overall, it is essential to remember that developing a writing habit that suits you is an iterative process. Think carefully about what works for you and what doesn't, and adjust until it feels right. You shouldn't measure your progress and success against others; the same goes for your writing practice. There will be days when you feel unmotivated or uninspired, and that is okay - reach out to others, try something different, or just be kind to yourself and have the day off.

Finally, if you need more advice on writing, the two books below are my favourites for motivation and keeping my work on track.

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