Create a Daily Writing Habit with Writing Analytics
How can some writers publish hundreds of books and thousands of articles, adding up to millions of words over the course of their careers? They've built a daily writing habit. Instead of leaving writing to chance, they created an environment that allows them to show up and write every day.
You can't write a book in one day. But you can do it in less than six months if you commit to writing 500 words every day. Even as little as 15 minutes per day can have a profound impact on your productivity as a writer.
As many would confirm, sitting down to write every day can be the hardest thing to do. You have to focus deeply and for extended periods. It can be challenging to fit it around the other responsibilities you already have.
Writing Analytics gives you the tools that you need to overcome those challenges and create a truly sustainable writing routine.
What is Writing Analytics?
Writing Analytics is an app designed to help you create a daily writing habit. Its built-in editor tracks how many words you write and delete, how long each writing session takes, how focused you are and how much time you spend typing. You can set word and time goals for your sessions and earn awards when you reach them. It has a writing planner to help you schedule your work and a habit tracker to keep you accountable.
Learn more about these and many other features of Writing Analytics.
Why write every day?
Many writers that are starting out ask, "Do I have to write every day?"
Writing every day seems like a chore, something that you have to endure to be a writer. The answer is no! Of course not. There are no rules.
However, many writers choose to write every day because it lets them fit their writing into their busy lives. They wake up early and write a page or two before going to work. Or they spend 20 minutes every evening working on an article for their blog. It's the only way they can get enough words done.
They build momentum and eventually find joy in the practice of sitting down to write every day. It becomes a habit — a part of who they are.
Most importantly, the words keep adding up. What seems like an inconsequential amount of effort at the time (15 or 30 minutes per day) makes a huge difference over time.
How to create a daily writing habit?
Are you ready to start writing every day? Here are six steps you can take to create a daily writing habit that will be sustainable for the long term.
1. Start small
The biggest mistake writers make when creating a writing habit is setting an unrealistic daily goal. It may work for a few days or weeks until they run out of steam and stop writing altogether.
If you haven't been writing daily for a while, starting to write 2,000 words every day is like trying to run a 10k every morning with no prior training. You may be able to power through a few times if you're really determined, but your body won't be able to keep up.
Writing is no different. If you overdo it right from the beginning, it's only a matter of time before you start to resent it. You will procrastinate and do whatever you can to avoid even looking at the unfinished draft.
When starting a writing routine, choose a goal that seems ridiculously low. Something that you know that you can finish in 15 minutes or less. Do that for a while, then work your way up. Or even better, set a time goal instead. Work at your own pace until you're ready to take on bigger challenges.
Sessions in Writing Analytics are perfect for this. The editor tracks your words and how much time you spend writing. You can set both word and time goals. A progress bar at the top will show you how much you work you have left to do.
At the end of the session, Writing Analytics will show you a detailed report that includes how many words you wrote and deleted, how much time you spent typing and even how many times you were distracted.
2. Schedule your writing and make it a priority
Don't leave your writing schedule to chance. Set a time when your next writing session will be, and do whatever is in your power to stick to it.
Putting an event on your calendar creates a commitment. It makes it a lot more likely that you'll follow through. If you don't, there's always something that comes up that makes you push your writing session back later until it's 11 p.m. and you're knackered.
Working on a book? Create a project for it in Writing Analytics. You'll be able to set a goal and track your progress towards it. You can also set a deadline, and the app will generate a writing schedule for you.
When you start putting your writing sessions on your calendar, treat those as a meeting with a friend. You probably don't ghost people without saying anything just because you're too busy. When you can no longer make it, take a moment to reschedule.
How much does writing mean to you? Give your writing sessions an appropriate priority on your schedule.
3. Be prepared
What will you be writing about? Some writers think through what they'll be working on the next day. Others prepare extensive outlines so that they sit down and focus on putting words on paper. Most writers do a mix of both.
Trying to come up with an idea on the spot works occasionally, but it's unsustainable in the long term. There will be days when you can turn your brain upside down and not find a workable idea.
Make sure you keep a list of ideas, topics or outlines that you can pick from. If you can, decide what you'll write about the night before. That way, your subconscious will get a bit of time to process it in the background. When you sit down, you'll be ready to start writing right away.
4. Track your progress
Writing projects can take ages to finish. It's not uncommon for writers to spend years working on a single book. Unfortunately, it's also not uncommon to see writers lose motivation and give up too soon.
Long writing projects offer very little gratification along the way. You're toiling away in obscurity until the end where all the rewards are. You'll need as much motivation and accountability as you can get to make it across the finish line.
Many writers choose to track their word counts to get a sense of the progress that they're making and reward themselves for reaching important milestones along the way.
The Writing Analytics editor tracks various metrics automatically while you write. You know whether you're on track to reach your goals and can use the data to keep yourself accountable.
When there's a record of you not showing up, it's much harder to skip writing sessions.
As you write, you can earn 46 different awards to celebrate important milestones along the way. Write 50,000 words, and you'll get the It's a Novel award. Write for 80 days in a row will earn you the Around the World award.
You can also create a public link and share your project dashboard with your friends or writing group for extra accountability. They'll be able to see your stats, but your drafts remain private. They also won't need a Writing Analytics account for this.
5. Never skip two days in a row
No matter how hard you try, sometimes, you'll make mistakes or fall short. That's ok. There's no need to beat yourself up about it. One missed day is a drop in the ocean. However, when it happens, it's crucial to keep going.
Haruki Murakami — the author of Norwegian Wood and many other acclaimed novels — has a simple rule: never skip two days in a row. When you have to skip a writing session, focus all your energy on making sure you'll write the next day. Head to the coffee shop after work to write for an hour or cancel your evening plans to make time to write.
Writing Analytics comes with an automated habit tracker. Whenever you write, it checks off the day for you on the calendar. It also keeps track of your current writing streak.
You can also earn a number of awards by building a streak of up to 365 days.
6. Adapt and keep going
The term 'writing habit' suggests that it's something you develop and then keep doing forever. Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that.
Things change all the time. You may switch jobs or move to the suburbs, which will lengthen your commute significantly. Writing every morning like you used to may no longer be an option.
When your circumstances change, be prepared to adapt or replace your writing routine with a different one to make it sustainable.
Make sure to watch for patterns too. When you start struggling to hit your goals or skip days more frequently, it may be a sign that your writing routine is no longer works for you.
Reviewing your dashboard in Writing Analytics regularly will give you a sense of how you're doing. You can look back at the data from previous weeks and months and make adjustments before you burn out and stop writing altogether.
On the Tim Ferriss Show, Neil Gaiman talks about how his writing routine evolved over the years as his lifestyle and preferences changed. When he was a young writer in England, he used to work late through the night. Years later on when he moved to America, he found that he couldn't do that anymore. He started writing in the mornings and then in the afternoons.
Your writing routine has to work for you, not the other way around. Don't be afraid to change it so that you can keep going. That's the only way to make it truly sustainable.
Take the first step
Where would you be as a writer if you started writing every day a year ago or three years ago? Take the first step to create a daily writing habit today, so you don't have to ask the same question a year from now.
Sign up for a free trial of Writing Analytics and start your first writing session today.