Written by Chloe Higgins – Author and Writing Coach
Getting a draft on the page is just the first (of many!) step you need to take, and yet it’s the step at which so many people give up. So how do you get those early words on the page?
A regular writing routine is essential. Whether you’re working towards a first draft or you’re simply getting your thoughts out of your brain, setting aside dedicated time each day is the best way to get into the habit of writing. And make no mistake: habit is essential if you are to build a sustainable writing practice. Just like any other pursuit, you need to put in the hours. The more you write, the better you’ll get at writing.
So let’s build a routine to move you through this apprenticeship.
Improving your writing is about showing up consistently. The only question that really matters is: will you continue to show up, day after day?
Sometimes, this means saying no to other things. Prioritising your writing means having time to write, of course, but it also means having the mental headspace to ruminate and process. When you have too much on your plate, you won’t be able to give your writing the space it needs to breathe. Saying no is hard, but it’s necessary if you’re dedicated to your craft.
When it comes to the goal of establishing and maintaining a regular writing routine, it’s about setting an expectation that’s easy for you to meet consistently. Whether you’re aiming for an end result of 50K, 80K, or 100K, you need to break this into smaller goals for each day and those goals need to be easy. It’s as simple as that. If 200 words feels easy to you, pick that as your goal. If it’s 500 words, pick that. Don’t compare your goal to the goals of others. Just because they set a high goal, doesn’t mean they’re going to stick to it.
As you write, don’t let your brain dictate what you get on the page. Instead, let your gut do the talking. You’ll probably have an idea of what you want to write about and that’s a great thing to have, but don’t let it restrict you.
My dad is going through the process of writing his own book at the moment and he’s mentioned a few times that he heads off on tangents, exploring other ideas and thoughts. He’s not totally on board with the idea of letting his gut do the talking, but he’s getting there.
The truth is that your gut will show you the things that are the most important to you. The things you might not have realised you were thinking about. It gives your writing more depth, diving past the surface stuff, the ideas of what you should be writing about and getting to the heart of it all.
At the end of the day, the only way to move towards your writing goal, whatever it may be, is to put one word in front of another. Allow yourself the time and space to do this.