5 Tips on Developing a Great Writing Habit That Works

Good writing habits please!

[This is part of the Developing Great Blog Content Series. Check out the other posts!]

Great blogs have great blog content but only if there’s content there to begin with!

One of the things that I want to challenge you with through this post is for you to begin to develop a system and strategy for learning to write daily – not that you need to actually publish daily but that you’re spending time writing every single day.

I believe that great blog content is birthed out of a blogger who practices his craft with great intent and a blogger who practices more often than not is going to always be in a better spot and set up for greater potential for success than one who essentially “wings it” and banks on luck rather than the development of core skills.

And you know this already, right? Professional athletes are professional athletes because they spend most of their life in training, working to get better in their field constantly. Now, we don’t have to go to that extreme but we need to take the principles of hard work, dedication, and creating a sustainable schedule and pattern that works for you!

In other words, you need to write daily in such a way where it becomes habitual.

Developing Great Writing Habits

Now I’m not actually the best person to be giving advice to others about developing habits that stick since I like to break even my own habits now and then but I’ve learned a few patterns and things that have helped me.

Here are 5 things that have been critical to the formation of a writing habit that works for me:

  1. ScheduleI wrote a post about this a bit more in depth but one of the things that you need to do is simply create a schedule for yourself that works – build out some explicit time during your day to actually write. Perhaps it’s in the morning; perhaps it’s in the evening. Just choose some time that works for you!
  2. Be Ready – One of the challenges that I’ve faced consistently is having something at the ready for my writing needs. What I’ve realized is that my iPhone, iPad, and even my MacBook Air is not enough and does not make me ready for writing at any moment. As a result I carry around a Moleskine notebook and a pen so I’m ready to jot down at any notice. This will help solidify your growth as a writer and your habit of writing.
  3. Be Aware – On the same token as #2 you need to be constantly aware of your need to write – if you find inspiration wherever you are then you need to be willing (and able) to start writing. Jot it down in your notebook or something else but being aware of your need to write daily will help you execute. The more you do the more it’ll become a habit and/or natural.
  4. Your Environment – I’ve mentioned this before but there appears to a connection between your environment and your level of productivity – your creative laboratory so to speak. Habits can be developed naturally or they can be created and both are just as good and legitimate! Find your optimal environments so that your habit can form faster and more concrete.
  5. Execute Publicly – At the end of the day you have to hit the “Publish” button and get your work out there into the public, especially if you’re a blogger. Sure, you can write thousands of words that never see the light of day and that’s great but you have to let others see it so as to provide passive and active criticism so that you can become a better writer. Get in the habit of others reading your work and you’ll become a better writer.

Now those are only 5 that I’ve been able to come up with and I’d love to hear your stories about how you’ve developed a better writing habit!

Please let me know as I’m always interested in becoming better myself!

[This is part of the Developing Great Blog Content Series. Check out the other posts!]

  • http://www.geekforhim.com Matthew Snider

    I actually use Evernote for ideas so I always have my iPhone with me. Then I send it to my email if necessary so I have it there also.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      ever use a stylus?

    • http://dustinstout.com Dustin W. Stout

      I. Love. Evernote.

      • http://john.do John Saddington

        ;) it’s a fun app.

  • Adam

    Like Matthew I am a a fan of Evernote and always have it with me whether it be on my phone, desktop, or laptop. I do keep a Moleskine handy as well! Notes i jot down in there at the end of the day will get transfered over to Evernote at the end of the day.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      sweet. what type do you use?

      • Adam

        Small squared one. Portable and always comes in handy…

        • http://john.do John Saddington

          ah… nice! have a stack (or two)?

          • Adam

            Yeah, I find the squared ones work best for sketching out design ideas and taking notes.

            • http://john.do John Saddington

              do you have ruled lines?

              • Adam

                No. Just squared.

  • Jorge Silvestrini

    Another vote for Evernote here, but I’ve started to record my posts as well. Sometimes I get an idea and I can’t write as fast as its pouring down! So – record it on the iPhone in any application, transfer it to the computer or Evernote when I have a chance and develop the actual post…

    Will see if it really works this week!

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      sweet! do you ever physically write anything out?

      • Jorge Silvestrini

        Sure I do – I have plenty of paper and pencil around. Being a musician/songwriter I need to also capture any ideas on the go and melodic ideas as well – thus sometimes recording is the best. But I love to actually get the pad and pencil/pen out and write it all out!

        • http://john.do John Saddington

          sweet. that’s pretty cool.

  • http://thisismethinking.com/ Darrell

    This is good stuff. I have learned that you have to sometimes opt out of other things in life to spend time writing. As an extroverted person that is really hard for me. I have to often times say no to people in order to write content.

    thanks for this post john.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      writing can be tough for the super-extrovert… it’s tough since it can be a very “lonely” endeavor!

  • http://scatteredblogger.com Joshua Chase

    I’m guilty of bad habits. Ok, I will try to write everyday publish or not. Wow, I do not do that at all so I guess that’s something I need to put into practice! Now, on to read your article on How To Create a Blog Post Series!

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      awesome! do it!

  • JD Eddins

    I definitely have to keep a Moleskine with me at all times. A smuch I was would love to use Evernote, I don’t know that I ever make the switch since don’t want to pony up to get rid of a “stupid” phone.
    I have also found that the best place for me to write is sitting in my leather recliner at home. Not sure why, but that’s my spot.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      ah…… that sounds so comfy……..! pic?

  • http://wordsofwilliams.com Eric Williams

    I’ve started to really use Evernote effectively for ideas, and resources, but also might try the moleskin notebook approach. I have such sloppy handwriting, I guess electronic just seems to make the most sense. I keep my iphone with me all the time, so Evernote is at my finger tips.

    Like anything, you need to keep Evernote organized too and develop an effective way of using it, or your notes will get lost and cluttered. Michael Hyatt has an awesome post that helped me with this: http://michaelhyatt.com/how-to-organize-evernote-for-maximum-efficiency.html

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      michael’s blog post is money!

  • http://LookingForPurpose.com Dylan Dodson

    Having a consistent writing schedule is something I lack. I always post each blog by my “deadline,” but I don’t have a “deadline” to have them written by!

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      deadlines are tough. i try not to have many of those…

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    John–you’ve given us a lot of sound, practical advice in this post. I listened to Roger Ebert on a show called “The Writer’s Hot List” recently say that he didn’t wait for the muse to show up. He found it showed up when he started writing. The two basic mantras of writers are:

    Read! Read! Read!
    Write! Write! Write!

    I’ve read your post. Now it’s time to write.

    Good stuff.–Tom

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      go get ‘em!

  • Ryan Card

    I’m new to the blogging world. I find the hardest part is getting my ideas out of my head, on ‘paper’, and making it sound as good as it did in my head. I have used Evernote a lot but I still find a pen and paper gets the creativity going. Also, it helps me to remember how to actually ‘write’ which is easy to forget when you sit behind a computer keyboard all day long. I also love to read. I find this has helped me a lot when it comes to writing. Not that you copy a style, but there may be things about a persons writing style you really enjoy. I like to mod it to fit into my personality. Don’t know if that makes sense.

    Another great post. Really enjoying these.

  • Ratesman

    Thanks for this post John, very nice work :)

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      sure thing bro!

  • http://www.paintthistownred.org Ryan Frazier

    First time commenter…long time reader…John, you are amazing. Thank you so much for your wisdom! I’m in the process of a church plant and your blogs are helping me plant my church!

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      ah… best comment today! thanks so much for “coming out from the blog shadows”…!

      ;)

      be encouraged!

  • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

    I know everyone must think I’m crazy, but I’ve found that I do better carrying a pad and pen in my pocket. To me, it’s all about the speed of getting the idea on paper. I can whip out my pad, pen, and write down an idea way quicker than I can use an iPhone to type in a message. Maybe that’s just me though. Then, I just actually tear out the sheets and put them directly into my “system” so that’s another plus.
    I also have a very small recorder which I use in the car when writing is not possible. Recording really isn’t the way for me to go unless I have to though. I end up taking much more time to transcribe my notes, etc.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      no… i love that! i do that as well!

    • Jorge Silvestrini

      I’ve actually experienced this week the same with pad and pencil… Somehow – I am writing more, and at the speed the ideas are coming, I prefer to have a pad or a piece of paper folded in half and pencil. I will write and even include in parenthesis where I want to add a link, picture, etc. Sort of like a blue print of what the post should be. From paper it goes into Evernote if I’m away from my computer or into WP for editing…

      • http://john.do John Saddington

        love that work flow. sounds like it works!

  • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

    Here are some habits that help me.

    1. Always be thinking about your next blog post. You can get a lot of thought time in while you’re showering, driving, eating, etc.

    2. Use routine to get in the zone. Before you sit down to write, maybe go for a walk and make yourself a big cup of coffee. That little routine starts to prime the pump and tell your brain, “You’re getting ready to write.”

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      i love this. routine is so important!

      • Jorge Silvestrini

        I’ve worked on this as well – as I’m more used to the music scene – I either walk, get some coffee, or listen to something that makes my brain start to crunch new ideas…

        • http://john.do John Saddington

          coffee always works…!

  • Josh Weidmann

    Great post. I am trying to make sure that I ham in the habit of writing everyday- even if I don’t post. You are right, consistency in writing leads to good content. Sometime I have to write 100,000 words to get 10,000 words worth publishing. Thanks for the post!

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      sure thing josh!

      where do you draft/write?

    • Jorge Silvestrini

      Hey – more on this! I have as well started writing more and I’m not publishing as I should be – but it’s all about being organized I guess. I’m going to try for next week to schedule about 15 to 30 minutes of internet time for the blog! Just to edit, and post! I’m trying to use Evernote more and more because it’s already somewhat ready for post – just a copy and paste away!

      • http://john.do John Saddington

        definitely! create that habit!

  • http://ichrch.com Rich Langton

    These are great tips – I found myself mentally checking off the things that I do… I think I pretty much scored 5 out of 5.. woo hoo!!

    I think that the foundation for all of them though is actually wanting to do it. Before I started blogging I took some time out to consider the investment of my time and energy. I worked out what it would take to do it well and to grow in it only after that did I begin to write. And, I decided I wanted to do it. So when it gets tough I consider again why I started, and the investment I have already made, and the fact that I chose to start because I wanted to…. this helps me to keep focused on the writing and on the improving of the craft.

    Does that makes sense?

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      i LOVE that!

      sometimes you have to remember where you came from and why you started to get you through the rough patches…!

      http://john.do/motivation/

    • Jorge Silvestrini

      Of course it makes sense! There’s a big saying in the latin culture: “¿tanto nadar para morir en la orilla?”… And all it means is: after all the work you have put on and have gotten so far, you are going to let it all go and give up? die?

      We all know the answer. I thank John for his site and the inspiration and motivation for writing and blogging. I have found something I really like to do and I can express myself! Keep at it Rich!

      • http://john.do John Saddington

        wow… i like that!