Monday Minute is a weekly post in which I’ll share short writing pieces, writing prompts, a thought or question for discussion, or quick writing tips. This week I’m sharing 3 habits I believe every writer needs to have in their life.
On the face of things, these tips seem obvious and simple but they’re good to remember. Sometimes I get so caught up in the writing itself that I forget the habits I should be forming in order to be a better writer. In my view, I think there are 3 simple habits all writers can develop to become better writers.
3 Habits Every Writer Should Cultivate:
1. A strong desire to write. The need to write has to be there. You must write regularly to improve, grow and succeed as a writer. I think setting aside regular time to write is best, whether it’s at night, in the morning or at noon. Writing has to be as much a part of our lives as school or work or chores. It can be really hard to devote time to writing with busy schedules, family get-togethers and other social occasions. However, it can be done. All we need is the drive, determination and need to write. A while back, I was focusing so much on one aspect of my life that I was neglecting the time I had to unwind and write creatively. I often thought about writing because the need was there but after months of neglect, my writing suffered. Once I got back into the habit of writing though, it didn’t feel as difficult–it’s still challenging, for sure, but I seem to get writer’s block a lot less.
2. An interest in reading. We should also study the craft as well. Learn from the classics and greats. See what works for them and see what doesn’t. Watch how a plot unfolds. You can learn a lot from reading. As a kid, I read a lot of mystery and fantasy novels. My love of mystery taught me how to build suspense and uncertainty in a story. Meanwhile, my love of fantasy taught me about the imaginative power of fantasy, how it could present a multitude of wonderful possibilities, where anything was possible. We must expose ourselves to the good literature and the bad literature. It teaches us what we enjoy, what we like to read about and what we don’t like in books. Even if we make a habit of reading the newspaper or blogs, it can give us ideas and expose us to different narrative styles. This learning translates to our writing.
3. An ability to accept feedback and constructive criticism. I’ve always heard that writers must develop tough skin; this is needed for constructive criticism, feedback and rejection. We can get very attached to our writing and take criticism or rejection personally but if we do, we risk staying in the same spot. We don’t grow, we don’t learn and we don’t acquaint ourselves with different viewpoints. I’ll often ask my sister, parents or colleagues for a second opinion, a second pair of eyes. Sometimes we miss things and sometimes other people see things you don’t. They might suggest a word change, correct an awkward passage or tell you how the writing piece makes them feel. At first, you’ll want to defend your work (naturally) and resist any suggested changes. But you should really reflect on feedback and constructive criticism. Do they have a good point? Would the work benefit from the change? Does it sound better?
Do you think there are other important habits writers need to develop?