If you plan to make a living as a writer, you should get to know some positive habits that will improve your work. Everyone has at least a few habits that they practice often, if not daily. It might be checking your email as soon as you wake up, or maybe even just doing laundry on a certain day every week. Not every habit is a good one, as you well know, but it is always a positive when you can learn a new good habit, especially when it relates to your job. This is just a short list of habits that I’ve found helpful after a few years of being a freelance writer:
1.) Read Often
If you love to write,
you probably grew up loving to read. Now that you know how to write well, don’t drop your reading habit! It is easy to proclaim that life has made you too busy to read, especially when you’re in school and forced to read textbooks. But you might soon find yourself losing your writing ability, or at least stagnating, when you don’t make time for books. Even when I let a few months pass without reading anything new, my writing seems a little stale. Books are not only a great way to relax, but an easy way to make sure you keep growing in this business, whether you learn new words or sentence structures. My favorite authors who routinely plant new words in my brain are John Grisham, James Patterson, Charlaine Harris, and Patricia Cornwell.
2.) Love Learning
This is somewhat related to reading, but there are other ways to improve your writing, as well. One easy way to do this (that I have yet to get around to) is to buy a word-a-day calendar. My favorite heroine, Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse, planted this idea in my mind. It is a great way to constantly improve your vocabulary without fail. If you already know the majority of the words, it is likely to be an ego boost, which is also great!
3.) Keep Up with the Industry
On the heels of learning more, another idea is to stay current on news in the writing industry. It might seem like nothing too exciting happens in the non-fiction writing world, but other writers are constantly coming up with new ideas and ways to get ahead in this field. You don’t have to stick to news articles only; opinion blogs in which writers and editors share their experiences and suggestions are also helpful to your growth.
4.) Write for Fun
This especially goes if you are a non-fiction writer. Fiction writers write creatively all the time, but I have a feeling many content service providers do not make time for free, fun writing. Whether you have a blog online or just keep a hand-written journal, writing for fun provides both a break and an opportunity to grow as a writer. You can write about your life, or you can make up a detailed story. You can even try out some writing exercises.
5.) Take Breaks
Some writers might think this is counterproductive, while others already make sure to take plenty of breaks. Personally, I can’t write for hours at a time without a short break. After two to three hours of writing constantly, my brain is fried. This is probably why most people who write from home do not work
full eight-hour days. On my busy days, my breaks consist of getting up for more coffee, responding to emails and job ads, filling in my calendar, and Internet marketing for my business. On my more relaxed days (like today), during my breaks I write for fun, read, or chase my pug around the house for ten minutes (these are her favorite days). No matter what you decide to do, a five to ten-minute break every hour or so will help you feel much more at ease during your workday.
Do you have any other suggestions for growing as a writer? Let me know; I could use some fresh ideas.
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