Maintaining the daily writing habit

Developing and maintaining the habit of writing every day is a tough task.

Doing it for a short while or sporadically is easy but writing on a Monday morning, like today, when your email inbox has filled up over the weekend, you have a busy day ahead with a packed calendar, and you want to get the week off to a good start is hard.

But it needs to be done. Because that is how you cultivate good habits, a habit that will serve me well in running and growing my business.

I have sometimes thought that using Twitter might be an effective way to hold myself to account from a writing perspective.

In favour of using such a strategy would be the unceasing flow of tweets with which to engage and respond. And I could pick and choose the topics and accounts to which I respond.

I would also face the challenge of synthesizing and synopsizing longer blog posts or pieces of information into the shorter character limited requirements of a tweet.

This would be a valuable exercise in which to engage.

Against the idea is the danger that all my writing would be reactive in responding to what others have to say and the absence of developing my own ideas and voice.

I would also miss out on the skill involved in writing a blog post or essay in which you are required to have a sound structure with a beginning, middle and conclusion and the unpacking of a longer or more complex idea or body of information.

Perhaps I do not have to choose one or the other-I could always use Twitter during the week for my writing fix and do longer pieces at the weekend.

But I believe this is a bit of a cop out and avoidance of the obligation to set aside 25 minutes, my current allotment, each morning to show up and write something.

So, here I am.

Update October 2021

I originally started writing this blog post in November 2020 and have now stumbled across it again, nearly 12 months later-proof positive of how difficult it is to maintain a daily writing habit.

I am still convinced 100% that it is a tremendous habit to develop, and it is worth the effort. But it is hard work and requires fierce determination and committment.

I fall out of the habit when I am busy or under pressure in work. I have always written most of these blog posts early in the morning in my office and they tend to be squashed between my 25 minutes Pomodoro of social media activity and tackling my email.

Knowing in the back of your mind that you have a busy day with lots of consultations or other upcoming committments combined with an overflowing email inbox forces me to tackle my Gmail with the result that the writing gets squeezed and dropped.

Once you drop something for a few days it becomes harder and harder to get back to it. I always have a guilty feeling that I should be writing more, however, and mentally chide myself for failing to show up and write-no matter the quality or the subject matter.

There is a lot to be said for just showing up and writing, even if it is the greatest pile of drivel. Because the benefit of putting words down on a page, thinking and assembling my thoughts, choosing and shifting around words far outweighs failure of not showing up and writing at all.

Ian Brodie gave an excellent tip in an email I received at the weekend which should help when you are stuck with the question of what to write about. He says to

write about something interesting that happened to you in the last few days no matter how “off topic” it seems. There’s always a useful lesson to be learned from just about anything. (Ian Brodie)

I would imagine that it is even possible to write about something that is not interesting on the surface, something mundane and ordinary, and extract some learning from it-even if it is only the power of habit and showing up every day and doing the same thing, provided it has value in the first place.

Twitter writing

I have considerered, and read about, using Twitter to help you develop a writing habit. But I have a problem trying to confine myself to the short number of characters permitted per tweet, and spending my time on work that will have a shelf life measured in minutes or hours at best.

I do recognise, however, the benefit of trying to synthesise one’s thoughts into a tweet, but some topics simply need more development and space. And having one place that you control-your own blog or website-is a markedly better investment of my time and effort.

Takeaway

Trying, and trying again and again, to develop a daily writing habit is a smart use of my time and energy. No matter how busy a day in prospect or how full the email inbox.

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