The Write Life: Writing Habits Take Time

Remember at the beginning of the year when I changed some of my daily goals to better align with my writing priorities? Yeah, that was a rough transition. I spent a lot of January ducking my head and saying, “what daily writing goals?” But I’m happy to report that in May, I wrote something on my novel every day. The moral of the story is: writing habits take time.

Two hands holding up an orange alarm clock while demonstrating that writing habits take time to build!

Photo by Malvestida on Unsplash

Lots of people expect that once they decide to do a thing—write a novel, write every day, write 1K words every time they sit down— they’ll be able to just do it. But making the plan is not the same thing as executing the plan. Building a regular writing habit (no matter what it is) can be a struggle and take time to develop. But you can make it easier if you keep a few things in mind.

Acknowledge the Struggle

The first thing you need to do is appreciate that building a writing habit can be hard. Even if it starts as a breeze, it’s easy to hit a wall once life gets more complicated, or you have a day in which you struggle to motivate or create. The habit part of a writing habit comes when you can work around most obstacles and still do the work you intend to do.

(Skipping a day on purpose is not a failure. Skipping a day on accident likely means you still have habit building to do. Which is respectable! Just keep at it.)

Reward Hard Work

Reward yourself when you follow through with your plan. Check it off on a to-do list, give yourself a sticker, tell a friend or social media—just reward yourself and celebrate every time you perform the task you planned.

You may think, “all I did was write 100 words on my novel, lots of writers do that.” Yes, but lots of writers DON’T. Lots of writers let other things stand in the way of their words, and you didn’t today. YOU wrote and did the writing you intended. That deserves more acknowledgement than you think.

Stay Flexible

You may find the habit you planned doesn’t fit your life and you need to make adjustments—or make adjustments for now and build the more time-consuming habit in a year when other responsibilities shift.

Stay flexible with yourself and be ready to change your plan with grace. Remember, the writing habit has to fit your life, not the other way around.

Writing Habits Take Time

Building writing habits take time, so give yourself the grace to build at your own pace. There’s no one timeline; there’s no expectation of results. There is you and the habit you want to build. You can make changes to your plan, give yourself days off, or do whatever else you need to make a writing habit that sticks. But trust that it takes time and it’s not all or nothing.


Habits, not heartbreak. That’s the main thing you should remember while you build writing habits. It’s going to take time, it’s sometimes going to be hard, but it shouldn’t break your heart. If it is: adjust! You’re doing this for yourself and while it might not be easy, it shouldn’t be painful.



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