I was working with a delightful blogger/copywriter-to-be yesterday in my consulting capacity – and she asked me this:

How do you get yourself to write everyday, how do you get yourself into the habit of regular writing?

  1. You’ve got to love it…or at least love the rewards it will get you – if you don’t have a penchant for the writing itself. The endgame is important here.
  2. Find your community. You (yes, I’m looking at You) are part of why I can’t wait to write and then publish here everyday. I revel in your comments and your tweets and your emails, in our connections.
  3. I never force myself to write. If it’s not working, I move on to another project. Or I walk away from my computer. No one likes to be pushed. I don’t believe in writer’s block – I do believe that there’s a time and a place for everything. Sometimes it’s not your time to write – accept it and move on. It will come back. I promise. But it will take a LOT longer if you don’t just let it go for a bit, if, tragically, you insist that it happens.

And there’s one more answer.

So often when we can’t do X, it’s because we’re only thinking about X. And hence, we forget that we can do A, B, C, D….

I hate speaking in intangibles so, let’s do this: I wrote a post yesterday about making up a portfolio if you don’t have any ‘official’ writing samples. And Dave Doolin commented that it’s the same with programming. And I responded, ‘Isn’t it the same with everything?’.

The thing, the ‘X’ you think you can’t do is: make a writing portfolio, designing a website, baking a cheese cake, running 5 miles. But the how is the same: you do it one piece at a time, you ask others for help, you follow directions, you jump in, you PRACTICE, you realize you should hire someone else to do it.

The Point is this: the WHAT isn’t important. It’s the HOW that matters. And you already know how to do the HOW – you HOW all the time. Sometimes easily, sometimes with a bit more sweat and grit.

So, when it comes to writing…

….there must be other ‘things’ in your life that you do on a regular basis with ease and joy.

  • What are they?
  • Why do you like them?

Now: apply those answers to writing, blogging, your business.

Here’s how I do it.

4. For the love of Running: It gives me a sense of accomplishment to finish my course. It makes me feel strong. I thrill at saying hello to other runners along my way. I like the rhythm of my foot falls on the road. Writing Translation: I get a sense of accomplishment when I finish a post. I feel strong and smart after I’ve written. I thrill at saying hello to my online community…and I love the rhythm of my finger falls on my keyboard.

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FYI: You may have noticed a new button up there at the top of my sidebar, courtesy of the astoundingly good Amanda Farough. Check it out if you need some personalized juice or jumpin’ for your writing, blogging or other businessly pursuits.

Image credit: The Hamster Factor

Join the discussion 21 Comments

  • --Deb says:

    Sometimes, it’s not the writing that’s the hard part; it’s the sitting down in front of the computer and opening Word, or the blog-software, or whatever program I need. Once I’m there, fingers poised over the keys, I’m okay, it’s GETTING there that’s tough.
    .-= –Deb´s last blog ..Good Writing is About Discovery =-.

    • Julie Roads says:

      Yep – and that was her question and hopefully, my answer. Why is it so easy for us to do somethings – like eating chocolate – and how we can we translate it to the things that are harder…

  • Siddhartha says:

    I wasn’t going to read this; I was on my way to the gym. But I told myself I could quickly read it but I wouldn’t comment. Anyway…

    Really loved this post and your message of universal applicability. While I’m a huge advocate of specialization, we need to recognize what keep us fresh, vital and capable in that area of specialization. Often it’s our “other” activities which allow us to do what we do best the best.

    Off the subject but I think your site looks cleaner. It’s much nicer to read. Did you do something with your sidebar?

    • Julie Roads says:

      As a matter of fact…yes, I did! After your tongue lashing, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. And I so appreciate you noticing it – says a lot about you, my friend. I just did this last night!!!

      And you have no idea how much I love hearing that you weren’t gonna read, then you weren’t gonna comment…I’m like a piece of chocolate cake to you…or something. Now get thee to the gym!!!

  • Tammi Kibler says:

    I freewrite with the monitor turned off. Just clearing all the garbage out of the way gets my fingers and synapses popping.
    .-= Tammi Kibler´s last blog ..Writing Career Goals – Plot Your Destination =-.

  • Great post, Julie. Totally agree! I LOVE writing and MUST do it or I begin to wilt. If for some reason I could not write – like if I were kidnapped at Wal-Mart in the bath mat section and thrown into an ice cream truck . . . I’d be the hostage raising a “shhhh!” finger to her kidnappers while I re-write the slogans on the ice cream packaging! Gotta love it, gotta do it. All day. Every day. Life’s too short to live outside your creative zone! :)

  • Srinivas Rao says:

    Julie,

    I was just having a conversation yesterday with another blogger about this. I’ve noticed that my best work happens in the span of 20 mins. I sit down at the computer and the typing just flows. But, if I try to force it, every time I read through posts I kind cringe and think “this sucks.” I think there’s a flow state or zone that people get into, and once you’re in it, you can produce higher quality material and do it much more efficiently.

  • Leon Noone says:

    G’Day Julie,

    I’m surprised that there are so few comments so far. Let me add, as we say Down Under, my “two bob’s worth.”

    There is really only one way to learn to write and that’s to write. You don’t need a keyboard. You only need something to write with and something to write on. You can do it anywhere. Copying a recipe, scribbling an address, making a shoping list: all these are legitimate and useful writing efforts.

    And don’t try to write The Great Humanitarian Blog first time around. For starters write about anything and everything. Scribble stuff down anywhere. Forget grammar, sentences and spelling. Don’t try to be cogent or lucid. Just write. Worry about readability after you’ve formed the writing habit. You can learn how to write well once you’ve learnt how to write.

    And if you find that you don’t like it after a while, just stop. Do something else. Don’t join that massive army of people who think they can write, but can’t.

    Writing is like any other skill. Some have great talent for it. Others will never be much good at it. The rest of us just have to work at it. But there’s nothing intrinsically worthy about it.

    There’s only one way to learn to cook, drive, swim or chop wood. And there’s only one way to learn to write. Just write.

    Your writing ambitions may be blown to smithereens or, and I just can’t resist this,you may be setting off on a long, satisfying and fruitful writing road.

    Above all else, make sure you have fun.

    Julie, that’s what I’d tell your friend.

    Regards
    Leon

    • Julie Roads says:

      Wow – you really packed it in there, Leon! Writing Road and smithereens!!! I love your manifesto here…honored that you’ve shared your thoughts here so fully!

  • Dave Doolin says:

    I’ve got an article brewing on how I often get some of my best work done while I’m supposed to be doing something else.

    Wait! It’s done… I’m supposed to send it Srini.
    .-= Dave Doolin´s last blog ..Secrets of the Tomorrow Blog, Today =-.

  • Ari Herzog says:

    The irony of your expressing HOW is more important than WHAT is I agree, but WHY is more important than HOW.

    You may know the motions, but if you don’t know the reason you do it, something’s off.
    .-= Ari Herzog´s last blog ..Redesigning My Blog Layout: Do You Like? =-.

  • Shane Arthur says:

    How, why, what; it all boils down to this question. Do you love it? If you love it, the techniques, the styles, the boring rules, the editing, the challenge of coming up with something new…you will write everyday. If you love it so much, your words can’t adequately describe the joy, you will write everyday.

    Writing is a magical process. Some never get to this level to understand.

  • Carlos Velez says:

    Yeesh, all my favorite people are here commenting. Well, we’ve already discussed my lateness to this party.

    I love reading about people’s passion for writing, and you do it so damn well from just the little I’ve seen so far. It makes me peek at myself a bit more because I’m still figuring out that I am a writer, and that I love writing. I used to write songs and poetry constantly, but stopped for many years.

    I didn’t start a blog because I wanted to write again; I had other reasons. But as I put more words down, by hundreds and thousands, I find myself reconnecting to language and loving the sting and tingle of a well-turned phrase.

    I love writing. It’s a truth that’s oozing out from under the publish button every time I press it. Seeing it in you makes me see it in me that much more. holla.
    .-= Carlos Velez´s last blog ..The Conscious Man, Intro: Nice Guys and Jerks Both Finish Last =-.

  • Jonas says:

    Found you via a retweet from Carlos.

    If you “… love the rhythm of my finger falls on my keyboard,” then you should really enjoy this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Q2F–wZXac&feature=related

    Now I’ve been able to share something unusual, my work here is done.

  • Andi says:

    Great advice, as usual!
    .-= Andi´s last blog ..5 Things Sex and The City taught me about life =-.

  • Joseph Ruiz says:

    So I am getting ready to say how much this post meant and as I am moving to the comment box who do I see but the other member of the odd couple and so now i am off to see what Andi learned from Sex and the city I can’t wait. Hope you are doing well Julie
    Really thanks for the advice ;-)
    Joe

    • Julie Roads says:

      Hi Joe!!!! So wonderful to see you here! You are most welcome…I can’t wait to read what she learned as well…that show is like my bible, or something.

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