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Developing a Prolific Writing Habit

Habits can be good or bad. If you enjoy writing (or find yourself constantly being nagged by a muse) then having a positive set of habits about your writing is smart.

Various studies say that habits can be changed in about 28-40 days, although you'll find that you will fine-tune any new habit over the first 90 days.

But if you want to change your usual activities to build new writing habits, then you need to realize that you really want it - and stick with putting these actions in to replace what is already taking that time out of your life.

The basics to writing at all and prolific writing are the same. Prolific writers simply keep going on and on. Having good writing habits help both.

For writing in general, most people never start with the basics - like having a set place and working schedule for writing.

Prolific writers who have both of these, and have been already writing in some form or other for years, can then point themselves in the direction of getting their regular output converted to fiction or non-fiction stories (or both). And they tend to be pretty satisfied with their life meanwhile.

Since you get joy from your writing, letting your prolific side free in your day-to-day activities will improve your life quality. Of course, that makes sense - if you want to follow your bliss, then doing a lot of those things that bring you happiness will make your life more joyful.

Of course, having some extra income from your books and courses is also nice...

Prolific writing starts with the habit of journaling. Start keeping a text file on your computer or other device that you add to everyday. Or a bound book you can write in. The point is to start getting used to your own style of writing - and putting down your observations, wishes, rants, and everything else you'd like to communicate. Write every day, every time you get a chance. For some people, this means blogging, but it doesn't have to. This first habit sets you free to express yourself, regardless if anyone ever reads this or not.

Next, get your craft basics studied up - which means a regular time to study and improve your craft. This is a life-long process, and you'll need some time every day to improve yourself. And this also included reading the books you love. Because those author's styles and vocabulary will tend to influence your own. But some good books on how the various story structures work are very welcome as well. Of course, there are a lot of dull academic types who write boring tomes that are simply repeating what others said. If you don't like reading a book, put it away. If they start repeating material you already know well, then skip them. You'll wind up with a small few number of books that you return to again and again. So you have a schedule for training daily - your second part of your new writing habits.

Review where your writing was done and when - then adopt a time daily for writing. Not everyone can write from home. Some use coffeeshops. Some write then their kids are off at school and all the chores are done. Some parents have to write in 30-minute intervals while their active child is napping. Some people use their commute to write on a laptop with noise-cancelling earphones. Others get to work an hour early, and use that time to write before everyone else comes in. An idea is to keep notes on where you wrote and what times you wrote. Like maybe on the top of the page as you start. Compiling these will show you where and when you are most productive. Then figure out how to cement those into a daily or at least regular schedule.

Publish when your story is complete - and keep publishing. Here's a tip: most really good authors started with short stories. They are also easier and faster to edit and proof. With ebooks, anything longer than 2500 words can be published as a book on its own. So if you like flash fiction, then combine a few of these into a collection at least that long, then publish it that way. The habit here is to develop a pattern. Like: write, edit, proof-correct, re-proof, publish. Personally, I find that around 6-12,000 words is where my stories end up. And I work to publish every week. I only have to carve out about an hour for every 1,000 publishable words. This also means having your blurb, cover, and formatting lined up. None of those have to be expensive if you aren't able to do them yourself. The trick is to begin publishing everything you write, and keep everything published. You might start with rounding up anything you've already completed - or can polish up simply - and publish these.

Keep an ideas journal as a springboard. This is made up from notes on particular story ideas that come to you "out of the blue" from time to time. Once you get a story written and published (or sent off to be published) then you want to immediately start the next one. If you have an ideas journal, it's simple to leaf through and find one that's appealing - then start writing it. That's what the high-production Golden Age writers did - Louis L'Amour among them. Typed "The End" and then rolled a fresh sheet of paper into their typewriters.

The point of this habit-forming exercise is to increase the joy in your life by replacing those habits that don't bring you joy with those actions that do. Again, the only reason you don't write as much as you want to is because you have habitually enabled other things to keep you from it. Weed those out, and replace them with the actions above.

In 28-40 days of this, you'll have a good habit you can use from here on out. One that can bring you extra income or even replace your day job. Meanwhile, following the bliss of writing can increase the joy in your life.

It's worth a try.

Get a blank calendar for next month, start marking off each day as you have successfully kept these above actions in. Then just do it the next month as well. After awhile, it's so normally part of your daily routine that you no longer have to mark a calendar.

And all that joy - and potential income - is now yours from here on out...

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