My best advice on making writing a habit

Art Is A Dirty Job Paris photo credit Kirsten Akens 2014

Oh wow. It's Wednesday. Day 3 of the Your Turn Challenge.

Here's how my week with YTC has gone.

Day 1: Excitement! A new challenge! Bring it!

Day 2: A good, solid piece popped into place. Thank you muse.

Day 3: Ugh.

Can I say that again? Ugh.

There are different theories on how long it takes for a new habit to stick. 21 days. 30 days. Just one week. And there are theories that debunk each of these theories so who really knows. What works is whatever you can make work for you.

What I do know about forming a habit of writing is some advice I gave a budding future-author just last week. And it has nothing to do with a certain number of days.

At my favorite work-away-from-home coffee shop, the owner brought over a friend of his who had just started working on a memoir. The friend wanted advice on how to go about it.

I said, "Write."

He stared back at me.

Than I laughed a little. Honestly, I told him, the first rule of writing a book is to write it. And to write every day. Five minutes. Ten minutes. Set an alarm. Don't set an alarm. Just write something. Anything.

I went on to explain that the method by which really doesn't matter as long as ... here we go again ... it works for you.

Yes, there are typically two paths people take when writing. Plotting and pantsing.

Plotting involves starting with constructing a partial or full outline of what you're going to write before writing it. Pantsing is the code word for "fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants," writing (mostly) stream of consciousness or, in fiction, by letting the characters who live in your head speak through you.

I'm a pantser. Always have been. I very rarely outline much of anything because I've found if I spend that much time on a outline, by the time I'm done, I have no interest in actually writing the story. Putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard is the art for me. It's the process of full absorption that Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi refers to in his book Flow that I love (that's an affiliate link to the book there, just so you know), that keeps me going.

But either way is equally valid — if it works for you.

So here I am. Taking my own advice. Writing.

Writing about writing. Which I get asked about a lot anyway, so it's not totally off board.

And as I re-read my words, they're not half bad either.

Day 3: Done.


(This is my Day 3 contribution to the Your Turn Challenge. Read others' contributions and learn more here.)