writing

How to form a Daily Writing habit

I’m trying out graphics, not sure about this one tbh

First and foremost, a daily writing habit doesn’t work for everyone, so if you’re setting out to make one for yourself know that it’s okay if you don’t write every single day. You can have break days, and you can have break weeks, and all of that is good and normal.

I’ve had some luck using a project like NaNoWriMo, where there’s a community and a special website where you can track your writing for each day, you have a goal and the site shows you graphs of your progress. That can be very motivating! But NaNoWriMo only runs once a year, and CampNaNo is a couple of times more. So although those are great short term options, if you want a proper habit it’s probably not what you want to start with.

Instead, make a deal with yourself to really do this. I’ve recently come to the realisation that people make time for the things that really matter to them. You hang out with your most important friends, you spend time on the most important piece of work. If you want to create a piece of writing every day you have to make it a priority. No more ‘I just can’t find time’ excuses, if this is important to you, you’ll make time for it.

Where do you find the time?
– wake up an hour early and write then
– your lunch break
– as soon as you get home from work
– after dinner, instead of watching TV

Okay, so I’ve made the time, what do I do now?

Set a goal for how many words you’re going to write each day. It might be a certain word count, or a certain number of pages, or just ‘more than a couple of sentences’. Your goal is yours to determine.

Staring at the blank page can be a terrifying thing. I know that. There’s a couple of options I can suggest:

  • Plan first. I’ve never traditionally been a planner, I was a ‘pantser’ which for those not in the ‘biz, means ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ writer. Don’t do this, if you’re just starting out. Make a plan, use some beat sheets, or write down the ideas you’ve had, what things you want to cover, make a mind map, have something to go on.
  • Freewriting. Just start writing with no agenda or judgement. Don’t worry if it’s meaningless drivel or just you writing ‘I don’t know what to write and I feel silly’, you just do it. Write whatever random stream of conciousness comes to you. The point isn’t the output itself, but the act of writing. The more you do this, the easier it becomes, and it opens up something in the creative centers of the brain.
  • Two projects at once. This is a controversial one, but one I learned off Lauren Graham. Have two projects on the go and switch between them whenever you get bored. If you write longhand this is easy enough to do, with two books open. If you write online as I do, have two tabs open. In fact, as I write this I am multitasking with my current novel in another tab and a roleplaying game scenario in another. Although that’s more than two projects so… ignore that.
  • Recount something. Just write out a dream you had, or an outing you’ve been on, or a memory you treasure. Anything you can just start into and keep going until it’s done.

Whatever you choose to do, do it one day, then make sure you do it again next time.

Then what?

I can’t give you a magic trick, or foolproof technique which will turn you into a daily habit writer. Because it’s entirely up to you to do. But I want to assure you that if you do want to do it, you can. You just have to want it, make time for it, and then get going.

Other tips:

  • If you’re writing online and finding yourself distracted
  • Something like 750 words can be a really good way to ‘earn’ badges by updating each day.
  • Find a check in buddy or group, where you can check up on each other or encourage as needed
  • Carry a notebook, or use a notetaking app to capture ideas as you have them. I can’t tell you how many brilliant ideas I’ve had which are gone forever because I thought I’d remember them on my own
  • It’s okay if you miss a day, and actually letting yourself off the hook for a day or longer can be very energising. Don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t perfect. You can always pick it up again when you have the brain space

I hope this has been of some help, please comment if you have any additional tips or ideas !

writing

Travel blogging made easy – 8 tips which will streamline your process

Last year I managed to write a blog post for every day while I was on my honeymoon in Japan. You can read it here, if you missed it, or you’re new, or if you want to re-read.

How did I do it? How hard was it? Well, it was hard, but I did a few things to make it easier on myself. Here are my tips for making it easy on yourself and making a travel blog that people will tell you they enjoyed irl*! (*Results may vary)

Consider the blog, and your audience: My driving motivator to write a travel blog was to keep Anna’s grandmother informed of our travels. As it turned out, a lot of our family and friends also wanted to read along. So when I was writing the blog, I considered the kinds of things they wanted to know: were we having fun? what are some weird things we saw/did? what have we learned about Japan? what are some big cultural differences we’ve experienced which aren’t obvious from the outside? Those questions are guidance for the kind of content I wanted to put on. I went pretty straightforward travelogue style, but for a different audience maybe I would’ve concentrated on budget, savings or hidden gems. I don’t know. The point is, having this content direction in mind makes it easier when you come to write.

Gardens at Yasaka Shrine, Kyoto

Adjust as you go: Based on comments on the blog, and on social media as I shared the blog posts, I could see what people were most responding to. For example, my audience liked to read descriptions of food, and see pictures of said food, and have details about how it’s eaten. Fantastic, I dedicated more blog space to the food.

Notebook bullet points : You don’t want to be sitting down to blog and then have to gather your thoughts. Instead keep a notebook and pen with you at all times, and make little notes on things you want to remember. You can, if keen, make the notes as you go – in subways or as you eat lunch. I did this a little, but more often I’d be doing this as a precursor to blogging. I’d open my travel journal and write a bullet pointed list of the stuff I wanted to remember.

Make use of liminal spaces: If you’re moving around a lot, you’ll probably have some time in trains, buses or other transport. You may also have some half hours or longer waiting for buses, trains or other transport. These dead zones are a great time to whip out your notebook and make some notes. Or take some photos or just reflect on the kind of thing you want to put in that day’s blog.

Late at night or early in the morning: Don’t try and carve out time in your day just for blogging. The purpose of your trip is to explore and have fun, after all. Blogging is a side project after those things. Keep your focus on fun, your traveling companions and experiencing everything. With that in mind, the best times for me to blog were first thing in the morning or after dinner when we were back in the hotel. Just before sleep meant I got some nice tipsy blog entries in, which is always fun for the reader.

Pictures say a thousand words: obviously you do want to wow people with your gorgeous prose, your descriptions of experiences, and the way things made you feel. But don’t waste time describing something you got a good photo of. Videos are great too, and allow people to feel like they’re there with you. Stick photos in, people love travel photos, and it saves you time.

Dotonbori, Osaka

Have fun with it: You’re the first audience for your content, so make sure you’re writing and publishing things which interest you. If you’re enjoying yourself, and enjoying the blogging that will sparkle through and make your posts engaging.

…Or stop: Controversial I know. But if your blog becomes a chore, and it’s bringing you no joy, just stop updating. People can tell if you’re just updating out of a sense of obligation, and the posts won’t read well. They’ll feel forced and dull. If you don’t enjoy it, just stop. You can always post thoughts and feelings once you’re back home. Also, no one’s going to tell you off for not blogging every day. People expect that you’re busy traveling, and will forgive you for a missed day or two, or delayed posts from once you’re home again and are rested and are able to take some time to craft the content nicer.

So that’s my advice, a travel blog is a lot of fun and I certainly got a lot of lovely comments from people who enjoyed reading along. Plus, it’s awesome to be able to read back through the posts and relive all your memories.