3 Sneaky Habits that Often Trip Up Beginning Writers
Writer’s today live in the most amazing time ever.
Sure, there’s a lot of work to do on a societal level. But, personally, if you have just the slightest urge to write words for a living, there are countless free tools, platforms, and resources at your disposal.
YouTube is a glorified digital university. Instagram and Twitter are distribution channels. And Medium, Substack, and Amazon are your publishers.
You can decide to become a writer right now.
This is both amazing and overwhelming. Especially to the beginning writer.
It is and can be a lot if you don’t know where to start.
On a base level, before tackling the tech, it’s important to tackle any pervasive habits that could potentially impede your writing success. Because, let’s be real, no amount of tools and videos will do your writing for you.
Below are three of the biggest habits I wish I cut when I first started writing.
Telling The Phone Good Morning (Before Everything)
If I could sum up this section, it’d be: Don’t consume before you create.
For many of us, our phones are a minefield of distraction — that we intentionally seek out.
If we saw them for what they were, it’d maybe become easier to tell ourselves the truth.
In the documentary, The Social Dilemma, we’re told that our phones manipulate us and modify our behaviors.
So, if we’re not getting rid of our phones, we should at least not give it our most productive hours of the day. We should at least give our dreams and goals a little undivided attention.
One of the best ways I’ve done this is by changing habits and thus my mindset, regarding my phone. I’ve started doing things like:
- Turning off my phone or moving it away from my bed
- Keeping a journal at my bedside for morning writing
- Intentionally asking myself, “What can I create this morning?”
This last point is one that has shifted my mindset. Because, even though I consider myself creative, previously I never thought to myself, “how does a producer operate?”
As a consumer, you don’t even think in those terms. You just live life, unaware that we’re at the mercy of others’ creations.
“If you don’t produce, you won’t thrive — no matter how skilled or talented you are.” — Cal Newport, Deep Work
Do yourself and your writing dream a huge favor in the morning. When you wake up, ask how you might serve others with your writing.
No matter how small, what could you create that would help someone else?
Following through on this will create a tremendous shift in your day, your attitude, and the trajectory of your writing progress.
Your phone can wait. But can your writing?
Writing While Connected to the Internet
This point is strongly related to the previous one. But it’s still a really sneaky habit.
You stay connected to the Internet because you need to look things up for reference, it’s not a big deal, etcetera.
This small, seemingly harmless habit will eat your time if you let it. You won’t even know what hit you.
The Internet, not cotton, has become the fabric of our lives. So, it’ll probably feel strange voluntarily disconnecting your wifi.
But this is not about living in the dark ages, it’s about you taking control.
The average person checks their phone 96 times a day.
Do you think you’re the exception? I think not.
Some of us may be higher than average too. Especially, if you make your living online.
Many rabbit holes await you.
I’ll give you a real-life example. While writing this very article, I was trying to find the quote, “Write on a computer not connecting to the Internet,” because I’d forgotten who first said it.
I was fighting myself to not jump on the Internet and search. It was a struggle.
The reality is though, I could look it up after I’m done writing. But I think you get the point without me attributing the quote.
Please, stop testing your willpower.
Get into the habit of not dividing your attention while writing. Give yourself ample time to connect to and cultivate your own voice. It’s difficult to do this if you’re constantly getting inputs from everywhere.
Many writers want to write but the Internet is a beautiful distraction.
Don’t let it lure you away from your goal.
Which brings us to our last bad habit…
Not Capitalizing on Your Z’s
No, this isn’t about typing.
You’ve walked into an intervention about your sleep quality.
Sorry, not sorry.
I understand many of us, including myself like writing at night, when the house is quiet.
I’ve got a very active toddler, believe me, I get it. Sleep is a luxury item.
But writers aside, the average adult doesn’t even know how to get quality sleep.
We live in an overworked and over-caffeinated, sleep-deprived society. It’s the norm to work late, veg out at home, and get very little rest.
As Shawn Stevenson, author of Sleep Smarter says, “In our culture, sleep is not respected very much at all.”
A few things not to do, if you want better sleep:
- Stop watching TV and/or using your phone 2 hours before bed
- Stop drinking caffeine late in the evenings
- Stop snacking late at night
- Stop sleeping and waking at inconsistent times
Seriously, getting quality rest will only improve your writing output. As a writer, your mind is doing most, if not all of the work.
If you have the goal to say, write 1,000 words a day, your mind needs quality rest. Hell, writing aside, life itself can drain your energy.
Here are a few things to do to get better rest:
- Optimize your sleeping environment e.i. comforting lighting, bed, pillows
- Create a nightly ritual like a relaxing bath or reading time
- Relax and clear your mind in the evenings
Getting quality rest is seriously a life hack. Perhaps one of the best practices few people talk about.
But I get it, like your neighborhood Waffle House, Medium is open 24/7. You want to write and get ahead of schedule. But like Waffle House, this isn’t always the best option.
If you’re tired, you and the people you write for would be better served if you’re well-rested.
Do yourself a favor and capitalize on those good z’s.
To wrap this all up
For beginning (and seasoned writers), the Internet and lack of sleep are huge detriments to making strides. You’ll want to get a handle on these as much as possible before setting huge goals.
Of course, it shouldn’t stop you from getting started. Being aware of these culprits will only work to your advantage.
In the end, you will set up systems that work in your favor and compliment your writing.
This will better serve you, the people you love, and your writing audience.