Say Goodbye to Your Worst Writing Habits of 2010

by Suzannah Freeman

Group of people waving goodbye

Every writer has his or her own worst writing habit. You know, that little pet peeve you can’t seem to get rid of?

While there may be other poor habits in the mix, it’s that particular one that’s holding you back from really getting stuff done.

As we say goodbye to 2010 and welcome 2011, what writing habit are you ready to give the final wave?

Here are our worst offenders and how we’re going to overcome them:

Jennifer Blanchard

When 2010 first started out, I was on a roll. In less than three months I wrote and published my very first Procrastinating Writers eBook. It was a goal of mine for almost a year. Things were finally looking good for me on the writing front.

But then something happened. Something awful and productivity-killing.

I started developing some really bad writing habits.

I was suddenly waiting ’til the last minute to complete things and making excuses for why I couldn’t write. And these habits kept getting worse.

By the time the summer came around, I was over it. I didn’t want to write another word.

That’s when I realized a habit from the past had come back to visit me once again: I was (as usual) taking on too much.

I was freelancing and working full-time and running the Procrastinating Writers blog and writing my weekly PW newsletter and trying to spread the word about my eBook and finishing up my Holistic Health Coaching certification and, and, and…

And I was exhausted. I was burned out because I had let myself get that way.

I took a 6-week break from blogging to try and catch my breath, but then I jumped right into a laundry list of writing projects once the break ended and found myself right back where I started.

So in 2011, I am going to (once and for all) bid farewell to my worst writing habit. Here’s how I’m will stop taking on too much:

  • Learn to Say ‘No’–This is something I preach, but very rarely follow. I tend to take on too much because I say ‘yes’ to every writing project that comes my way. In 2011, I’m going to take a step back and really evaluate each writing project as a whole before I commit to it.
  • Discover True Passions–One reason I take on too much is because I’m interested in so many different things. A fear I have is limiting myself and getting stuck doing something I hate. So I often have more things going on than I can really handle. In 2011, I’m going to make it my business to discover what I’m truly passionate about so I can focus on those areas and let go of everything else.
  • Choose Quality Over Quantity–In the past I thought it was a good idea to have lots of things going on, that way I never got bored. But in the past, this has also led me to take on too much. In 2011, I’m only going to work on the writing projects that are related to my passions and my life goals. I’m going to aim for simplicity in my writing life, so I am able to get more of the important things done.

While getting rid of this nasty habit is going to be a challenge, it’s something I know I can and must do. It will help me relieve stress, keep my overall sanity in life and stay focused on the things I love.

Suzannah Windsor Freeman

2010 was an extremely busy year for me. I established some very good writing habits that I know will help my productivity in 2011, but I also developed some pretty nasty writing habits that I know can hold me back if I don’t overcome them soon.

My very, very worst habit last year was being unable to break a writing routine that simply wasn’t working anymore.

I’d just had my second child only weeks before the beginning of 2010, and so my schedule necessarily revolved around him. Constant middle-of-the-night feeds messed up my internal clock so much that I found myself with an interesting ability to work on my novel at three a.m., or very early in the morning before the rest of the house was awake. But, I was unable to write much during the daytime.

Every few months, my baby’s schedule changed and I found it difficult to mentally switch my usual writing times. For some reason, I just couldn’t program myself to write in the afternoon or evening, and I couldn’t seem to write with any noise in the background whatsoever.

What am I doing to overcome my worst writing habit of 2010?

  • Get more sleep. Baby has been bunking in our room since birth, but we’ve recently moved his crib into his big brother’s room. It seems to have helped him sleep more soundly, which means I get more sleep and feel more refreshed during daytimes.
  • Use a time tracker. While I have very little extra time in my schedule, I do know there are moments when I could be doing something more productive. I’ve tested out a free time tracker application that allows me to keep a record of how much time I spend on a variety of tasks to keep me honest about how much I’m really writing. It will also help me to identify the times of day I’m most productive so I can adjust my schedule.
  • Take on fewer writing commitments. Sometimes I expect too much of myself, so this year I’m going to cut myself some slack and refuse to take on more writing/blogging commitments than I can handle.

Because we just celebrated our baby’s first birthday, I know I will naturally have a little more time for writing in 2011 than I did last year. I can’t wait to make this year my most productive yet!

What are your worst writing habits of 2010?

Today’s Challenge: Identify your worst writing habit to be overcome, and devise a game plan stating exactly what you will do to break that habit in 2011.

About the Authors: Jennifer Blanchard is the founder of Procrastinating Writers, a blog that offers guidance for writers who struggle to get started. She is co-founder of the Better Writing Habits Challenge.

Suzannah Windsor Freeman is the founder of Write It Sideways, a blog where writers learn new skills, define their goals, and increase their productivity. She is co-founder of the Better Writing Habits challenge.

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