Writing is a Habit, ​not a Skill

We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.

–  Ernest Hemingway

As writers, we’ve all had the same frustration. You want to express something meaningful on paper but it just seems impossible to translate it from your brain and make it sit comfortably on the page. You stare at it for hours, re-word it, delete it, re-write it and then finally give up in a blur of self-deprecating exasperation.

All the greats have admitted experiencing the same frustration, their books didn’t just come straight from their own brains. It takes constant revisions and endless sleepless nights to create a piece of work that is at least presentable to someone else’s eye. This is because, like all things in life, writing is a habit and not a skill.

You have to apply yourself daily, weekly and monthly to writing, even if that means just a few words a day.

How do you form a habit of writing? 

Write every day. Even if you don’t feel like it, even if you are tired and your words don’t make sense. You might look back at it with fresh eyes another day and see something that you hadn’t noticed before, a hidden perfect prose of writing just begging to be tweaked and reworked into something marvellous.

Write at the same time (if you can). By setting a certain time of the day aside to write, your mind will start to tune in to when it has to concentrate and be creative. Just like eating patterns, your hunger for writing can be trained.

Set Goals and Rewards. Sometimes it’s a good thing to have tunnel vision, especially when you’re writing. Set simple, but self-important goals, like reaching a certain word count by the end of the month, or completing a certain number of drafts in the one year. Just make sure these goals don’t become too overbearing and you lose the meaning of actually writing for just the sake of writing.

Find inspiration. Read, read, read. Remind yourself why you have such a longing and passion to be a writer. Sharpen your mind and feed your brain with the written word and use it in your own craft.

Meditate with writing. Writing doesn’t have to be a chore. Nor does it have to be the unbearable torture that we writers make it out to be. Write for fun, write to relax. Don’t think about what you have to get done, just write because you want to put words down onto paper just because you can.

In short, to come back to Hemingway’s quote, writing may be a craft that is impossible to truly master, but when we stop learning in life (and in writing), we stop living. Write every day, learn every day.




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