It’s commonly known to take about 21 days to break a bad habit, so if you start today, you’re already one day closer to getting rid of these six bad writing habits.
1. Thinking about writing instead of actually writing.
Time to ‘fess up, because you’ve all done it. You’ve thought about writing, daydreamed about the perfect writing session, even brainstormed and called it writing… but unless you actually got words down on the page, it’s not writing. When inspiration hits, instead of just thinking about it, grab your pen and immediately get to work.
2. Waiting for the perfect writing conditions.
Many writers swear how important a daily writing routine is, but you can’t wait around until you have the perfect routine and conditions to write. It’s super tempting to wait for your ideal writing conditions: a two-hour window of uninterrupted time, the perfectly brewed cup of coffee, a brand new notebook, and of course, the lightning bolt of inspiration. But if you keep waiting for the perfect writing conditions, you’ll rarely ever get to write. Instead, learn to write in 5-minute windows, on your bus ride home, on the back of opened envelopes. Whatever it takes to write the words down now.
3. Holding on to your darlings.
It’s been said before: you have to kill your darlings. Your darling could be a subplot, a supporting character, or an interview quote you absolutely love. But if you step back and realize it’s not adding anything of value to your project, you have to say goodbye and let it go. Just remember that even if your darling isn’t right for this project, it could be perfect for the next one.
4. Ignoring constructive criticism.
Writers are a sensitive bunch, so when criticism comes around, it’s very tempting to hide away and ignore it. There’s a lot of useless and harsh criticism out there (thanks, Internet), but we must be mindful when it's actually constructive. Whether it’s from an editor, a teacher, or loyal fans, we need to learn from the critique to become a better writer.
5. Editing along the way.
If you’re writing the first draft and you stop every couple of sentences to edit along the way, you’re never going to get into the flow of writing. Stop second guessing yourself and let yourself make it all the way through your first draft. Once you’ve got all the words down, then you can go back and edit to your heart’s content.
6. Listening to your inner critic.
If you only take away one thing from this blog post, please remember that your inner critic is not your friend. The inner critic is bitter, mean, spiteful, and up to absolutely no good when it starts nagging at you. Do yourself a huge favour and learn to ignore your inner critic. If you want to be a great writer, you’ve got to believe in yourself.
It’s not easy to break bad habits, especially if you’ve already been writing with them for years. You can slowly chip away at this list and work on one bad habit at a time. Replace your bad habits with better ones and work on being a better writer every day.