Developing a Daily Writing Habit

Ask any prolific writer her secret to her productivity and she will likely tell you she has developed a habit of writing every day for some minimum period.  Whether you are an undergraduate student taking a writing-intensive class like ME Practice or a graduate student preparing your thesis or dissertation, getting into the habit of writing every day will improve the quality of your writing and make you a more disciplined individual.

One good reason to write daily is that you avoid the problem of procrastination by chipping away at large projects gradually instead of frantically rushing to pull a paper together the night before it is due.

For any activity to become a habit, though, you must make it a priority in your life.  As an example, people who exercise several times a week have made working out a priority by setting aside time on specific days to do run, walk, go to the gym, or take a class.  The same is true for developing a daily writing.  You have to make it a priority and make a commitment to stick to your schedule.

Next, you should set a long-term goal and a few short-term goals to keep you motivated.  For example, a long-term goal might be a detailed paper due at the end of the semester or your dissertation proposal while a short-term goal might be something as simple as making notes in a course or lab notebook or developing a resume.

Once you have some goals, commit to writing for at least 15 minutes every day.  I often find that once I start writing, I can write for much longer than my minimum.  Other days, it’s a struggle to find the words to get started.  (I’ll address ways to overcome writer’s block in a separate blog post.)  That’s why I suggest having a few different projects (journal paper, book chapter, proposal, etc.).  That way, if one project is not going well, you have another one on which you can make progress.

The key is to write something every day, even if it’s just an entry in your diary.  The act of writing triggers deep thinking processes in the brain, which helps you retain information and organize your thoughts.

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