Writing consistency – that is, the ability to write if not daily at least on a regular schedule – is a must for freelance writing success. (Yes, there are other types of consistency for writers which I’ll address at another time.)
Here I’m talking about setting up the habit of writing regularly. Done over time you’ll get to the place where you can trust yourself to get the writing done.
I’m reminded of what my father claimed was a typing exercise he learned when he learned to type, on a manual typewriter no less. It went like this:
The chains of habit are too small to be noticed until they are too strong to be broken.
No, no idea why this instead of the well known “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy white poodle.” I’ve always admired that sentence and the fox and the poodle because it uses every letter of the alphabet.
Once you create some chains of habit around your writing you’ll (usually) find it easier to write.
patterns are easier to repeat
1. Figure out a writing schedule you can keep
Setting up a writing schedule that you’ll keep, at least for several months, is probably the first step in creating writing consistency. It may take several tries before you find what actually works for you. Don’t worry if it seems odd or ‘unprofessional.’
This is your schedule and if it means writing for 30 minutes over lunch, or just on weekends, it’s fine as long as you repeat it regularly.
By the way, I’m not a believer that serious writers must write every day. I don’t and I never have. In fact, I’ve found, when I think to ask, that most women don’t, or so it seems. I write five or six days a week unless I take some deliberate time off. Which isn’t to say that writing every day is a bad thing. If it works for you great, if it doesn’t find what will work.
2. Know when your best writing time is
Each one of us has a ‘best time’ for writing. For me the earlier the better, provided the sun is up. For you it might be midnight, or after work if you have a regular job. A regular writing time helps you create the right kind of habit.
If your schedule won’t permit writing at this time, make it a goal. Decide how early or how late you can be productive with your writing and guild your schedule around that. In my case these days, I start getting stupid around 4 in the afternoon – so the writing gets done before that.
3. Reward yourself
Rewarding yourself is a great way to build writing consistency – or any consistency you want actually. The rewards should be small – 15 minutes reading a novel, or making yourself the cup of coffee or tea that pleases you. A short walk or time outside can be great. Petting a cat or a dog, or spending a few extra minutes with your kids. Whatever it is, by treating yourself to pleasure at the end of a writing session makes it easier to repeat.
4. Bookend for writing consistency
Bookending is a great way to build consistency because it creates real accountability. In this case you’d enroll a friend to support you. Then just as you’re getting ready to write, you call or text the friend saying something like “I will write for 30 minutes.”
Then when the 30 minutes is up you call or text again. If you completed the time you committed, just report that. And if you didn’t do exactly what you said, you report that as well, closing the bookend.
Keep it simple and if you call and reach your friend, no discussion about anything! Accountability is all that’s going on. Leaving a bookend on an answering machine is fine.
Be consistent in your writing schedule over time will make your writing life much easier, I promise.
What’s been your experience with writing consistently? Tell us about it in comments.
Write well and often,