Winning habits are those habits that make the tasks we have to perform easier by automating them, to a certain degree. Certainly, they give us the momentum we need to embark on our tasks by virtue of repitition. The harder the task, the more the benefit acquired through habit.
Going to gym at a certain time of day is one such habit that I find helpful. Sitting down to write each day is another. Here are some suggestions that make for successful writing:
1. Read voraciously. Stephen King reminds us that if we don’t have time to read, we don’t have time to write. Watch plenty of good movies too. If novels and short stories teach us about the inner journey, as well as character complexity and depth, movies teach us about pace, the outer journey and economy.
2. Enjoy and celebrate your creative journey—the mistakes too. Goethe once said: “By seeking and blundering we learn.” Sound advice indeed.
3. Join a writer’s group for networking, information, feedback and moral support.
4. Know your industry. Read dedicated magazines, subscribe to relevant blogs and websites. Try to learn something new about your craft each day.
5. Dispel negativity from your writing life, despite the growing number of rejection slips. Dean Koontz garnered 75 such slips before his first sale. Each book or screenplay represents enormous effort, dedication and faith. Negativity eats away at your resolve, self-belief and energy. It has no place in your process.
One important winning habit to acquire is to write regularly—every day if you can. Not each session has to produce inspired or superlative work. The point is to establish a routine.
6. Don’t second-guess, or edit your work while writing. Let the material pour out of you. Correcting and polishing are for the editing stage.
7. Be persistent and committed. The great concert pianist Vladimir Horowitz once said: “Never give up, never give up, never give up.” You shouldn’t either.
9. Believe in yourself and in your abilities. If you don’t, why should anyone else?
10. Learn to take criticism. Feedback, fair or foul, is requisite and inevitable. Paz Octavio, the Mexican poet and writer said: “What distinguishes modern art from the art of other ages is criticism.”
Fostering winning habits that develop and sustain stamina ought to make your goals as a writer easier to achieve.