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10 Simple Habits to Help You to Write Your First Book

10 Simple Habits to Help You to Write Your First Book

Want to write your first book? Over the years, I’ve written hundreds of books, mostly for clients, many for major publishers. Initially, I found writing difficult, avoiding it and wasting time. Eventually, I developed habits which help me to write.

Some of these habits might seem weird at first. Experts suggest that it takes repetition and time to develop a habit. When you repeat an action, sooner or later it will become a part of who you are – you’ll develop the habits which make you a successful author.

Here are ten habits you can develop.

1. Develop the habit of visualizing yourself happily writing your book.

“Visualization” is using your imagination. You’re always using your imagination. However, mostly you’re unaware of it. If you think that writing your book will be “hard”, you’re visualizing sitting at your computer, miserable and gritting your teeth.

Why not visualize yourself tapping the keyboard, and being excited that the words are flowing well? You’ll be thrilled with the results if you use your imagination to help you to write.

Take action by: writing a visualization script.

Write a short visualization script. Think about how it would feel to tap the keyboard, and write easily. Can you see this happening in your imagination? Describe what’s happening in your imagination in a few sentences. Your short script will kickstart your imagination.

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Visualize at least once a day; twice a day if possible.

2. Develop the habit of managing your time.

Any book takes time to write. Think about how you spend your day. If your schedule is packed – you work, you need time to commute, and time to spend with your family – consider how you could fit in writing time.

Take action by: scheduling time to write, every day.

Many writers get up earlier so they have time to write. Perhaps this would work for you. It’s OK if you’re not a “morning person”, and aren’t wide awake. You’ll find that a dreamy half-awake state is perfect for writing – you won’t obsess about the words.

3. Develop a journaling habit: prime the pump.

A writing journal helps you to write. Create a writer’s journal for your book. Your journal contains all your writing notes: ideas, outlines, and insights. It’s impossible to keep your entire book in your head. Don’t try.

You’ll bless your journal if you can’t write for a few days. It will put you in the right frame of mind to write when you read your journal entries.

Take action by: choosing a journal. Paper or digital?

Decide whether you’ll keep your book’s journal on paper, or in digital form. I keep my writing journals in Evernote (it’s free.)

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You may prefer a hardcover notebook, or a looseleaf folder. It’s up to you what you choose. Start your journal today.

4. Develop the habit of acceptance: lower your expectations.

Writing a book is a journey. It’s easy to lose confidence. You’ll avoid stress and writer’s block if you accept each day’s writing as the best you can do, on that particular day.

Just write. If you can talk, you can write. Writing a book is a process. You write the book. Then you review and revise your book. You may go through this process several times. It’s been said that books are rewritten, rather than written.

Accept the process, and be happy with what you write each day.

Take action by: practicing writing without judgment.

Avoid judging your writing. Decide that you’ll develop the habit of acceptance. Today, just accept what you’ve written. You’ve got words on the computer screen, and that’s a huge accomplishment.

5. Develop the habit of eliminating distractions while you’re writing.

Are you easily distracted? When it’s time to write, eliminate as many distractions as you can. Turn off your phone. Close your email, messaging and social media apps.

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Create a distraction-free environment, so you can focus on writing.

Take action by: investigating apps which can help.

Many writers swear by apps which put the focus on writing, and eliminate distractions. I use FocusWriter – it’s free, and multi-platform. Find an app you like, and use it.

6. Make it a habit to daydream, and muse.

“Muse” is both a verb and noun. As a noun, it refers to the Muses, Greek goddesses of inspiration who preside over the arts and sciences. As a verb, when you muse on your book, you wonder about it. Musing is a form of daydreaming: you’ll often get ideas and inspiration from a few minutes of musing about your book.

Take action by: daydreaming about your book for a few minutes each day.

You can’t grab inspiration by the neck and force it. You can however sit quietly, daydreaming about your book, and hope that inspiration will happen.

7. Get the idea-capturing habit.

Inspiration happens anywhere and everywhere. It can happen when you muse. It can happen in the shower, when you’re driving, or when you’re playing with your children. It’s elusive. If you don’t capture your ideas as they happen, they’ll vanish like dreams.

Take action by: carrying a notebook, or installing a note-taking app on your smart phone.

Be prepared to capture ideas whenever they occur. Carry a small notebook. I use Evernote on my phone to speak my ideas into an audio note.

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8. Make it a habit to set word-count goals.

How long will your book be? Most print books, whether fiction or nonfiction are around 70,000 to 80,000 words. With 250 words per print page, that’s 280 to 320 pages. Decide on your estimated word count, and work out how much you’ll need to write each day to meet your deadline.

Take action by: creating a word-count spreadsheet.

You’ll find plenty of word count spreadsheets online. I prefer to create my own, it’s simple to do. Track the date, your deadline, and how many words you write each day.

9. Make it a habit to read.

Writers read. The more you read, the easier writing becomes, because you’re familiar with words, and how to express ideas in words.

Take action by: scheduling reading time into your day.

Aim to read for at least half an hour a day. Your reading habit will do more to improve your writing skills than anything else, other than writing.

10. Habitually open yourself to experience.

Experiences provide food for your writing.

Take action by: scheduling artists’ dates each week.

Creativity guru Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, encourages writers to go on “artist’s dates” each week. These expeditions are dates with yourself, to explore and discover new things. You go on your artist’s dates alone, so take your notebook. Observe. People watch.

So there you have it. Ten habits to develop which will help you to write your first book, and the books you’ll write in the future.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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