Self-discipline to write daily a must

All too often as writers, we wait for “inspiration” to strike. Certainly it does flash, and when it does, the story almost always is a great idea. The problem, however, is in seeing that idea through to its completion, which is a story in a printed magazine or a novel sitting on the shelf.

To get there, you’ll need some good writing habits.

The good news is that there’s really only one good writing habit: You must write constantly.

Having a great idea means little if you don’t follow through with the writing, after all. But even more importantly, the quality of this writing during the follow-through will be poor if you have not developed the skills and acumen that come with regular writing. Think of it this way: You can’t run a marathon without doing lots of small, conditioning runs.

So how do you develop the self-discipline to write?
• Write daily – Somehow you must set aside at least a half-hour but preferably an hour or longer, to do nothing but write. Don’t worry about the quality; it will vary from day to day, but ultimately over time it will improve.
• Warm up – Many writers start their writing session start by reading or revising the previous day’s work, a sort of warm-up, and then picking up from there. This also helps ensure consistency in the story if the focus of your writing is a longer work, such as a novel.
• Work from an outline – Some writers develop outlines that are so detailed that writing the notes in a complete sentence is all that’s left to put the story in written form. Of course, others prefer to write with no outline or notes, as if they are channeling their story but most writers are somewhere in between, sometimes planning out scenes beat by beat other times seized by inspiration and writing a whole scene on the blank page with preconceived notion in their heads. Regardless of your preferred style, the goal ought to be to do enough planning that eventually inspiration sizes you.
• Don’t edit – During your writing sessions, save hard-core editing and rewriting (as well as the chore of sending out manuscripts) for later. While you might start by reading the previous day’s writing, don’t get bogged down rewriting it. Just do some quick proofreading and move on.

You always should use a writing strategy that’s best for you, but always remember one thing: You MUST write. New copy must flow onto the paper or computer screen daily.

As science fiction writer Robert Silverberg wrote, “The process of becoming a writer involves discovering how to use the accumulated wisdom of our guild, all those tricks of the storytelling trade that have evolved around the campfire over the past five or ten or fifty thousand years. Others can show what those tricks are. But only you can make a writer out of yourself, by reading, by studying what you have read, and above all by writing.”