Authors – You Need Good Writing Habits, Including When to Be Kind to Yourself

In the 30+ years I have been in the book business I have developed good writing habits. I know I can rely on these habits. Over the years I have also learned to trust my instincts. Though I am a disciplined writer, I have been disappointed in myself the last three months.

First, I did not write as many Internet articles as I usually write. I did not challenge myself either, or do much networking. Why? In addition to having the H1N1 virus I fell and cracked a rib. Coughing is really painful with a cracked rib and pain interrupted my writing schedule. Though my good writing habits still existed I was not using them.

Joe Lam details story-writing habits in his Suite 101 website article, “How to Stay Motivated as a Writer.” According to Lam, writers need to research life and this ongoing research will help to make stories “more plausible by seeing all the nuances that real life offers.” Lam also thinks each writer needs to find “short bursts of inspiration.” Good as this sounds, it is hard to do when you are recovering from a persistent and dangerous virus.

The Writing Journey website has posted an article about the “10 Habits of Successful Writers.” It begins with a strong statement: “Success as a writer is, very often, built on habits of success rather than luck or talent.” The first habit on this list is writing whether you feel like it or not. In my case, it was sometimes a not and sometimes a weak yes.

My mind is filled with ideas and I start working on them early in the morning. By late morning, however, I can feel my energy waning. Right after lunch I have an energy slump and often need to take a nap. Yet I have many of the good habits cited in the article.

Deadlines always motivate me and I meet them early. These days I am sticking to my niche of writing about loss, grief, reconciliation and recovery. As a former teacher, I make detailed plans that include every point, every resource, and every page number. Each book outline I write looks like a mini thesis. But after being ill for three moths I am looking for encouragement and found it at the end of the article.

“Just like anyone else [successful writers] have been known to procrastinate, be frustrated with their profession, and get discouraged.” This sentence describes me. Some, but not all, of my writing habits have fallen by the wayside. Though I am not as productive as usual, I continue to crank out articles, brainstorm on new ideas, and have started a new book.

So I think another point needs to be added to the list of good habits — being kind to yourself. That is what I am doing. I take my medication as prescribed, nap when I need to, and am slowly getting better. Illness or not, I am still a writer. You are too.

Copyright 2010 by Harriet Hodgson

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