Sunday, November 11, 2018

Why Building a Writing Habit is Essential

WARRIOR OF THE WORLD, which comes out January 8 2019, is being featured in a Goodreads giveaway until November 27! Great opportunity to win one of a hundred free copies! Kensington has also started a reader Facebook group called Between the Chapters. Lots of great giveaways on there - along with author chats. I'll be doing one in January, so join up and enjoy the party!

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is one I suggested, on the idea that “Even When You’re Not Writing, You’re Writing.”

It's a good one for NaNoWriMo month, because there's so much fierce focus getting words on the page - which is something I absolutely believe in. NaNoWriMo (National Novel-Writing Month, for the uninitiated) is fantastic for building a writing habit, something that's essential for being a writer. There's a lot of reasons for this - as it's something I talk and blog about frequently - but one of the things that building a writing habit does is it allows your mind to work even when you aren't.
This can get dicey because people can be so good at denial. I can't tell you how often someone has said to me "I've got the entire book written in my head - I just need to write it down."

If you have written books, you know very well how much is packed into the space of that hyphen. If you haven't written a book, and revised it, preferably several of them, then you might not realize what a huge disconnect there is between those two ideas.


Seriously. It's hard. So difficult that most people never make it to the other side of that hyphen. Or they start and never finish.

Writing the story down, getting it right, is where all the craft, skill, dedication and perseverance of being a writer come in. You can market your little heart out, but if the story isn't there, if you haven't gotten the words down and refined to the utmost agree, you've got nothing to sell readers. 

This is why authors build and maintain writing habits. You don't get better until you write A LOT. Some say a million words to get there and I think that's probably a reasonable number. That means that even if you "win" NaNoWriMo and write 50,000 words in the month of November, you've still got 95% of the work to do to get to the point where your writing begins to hang together and actually be *good* - or, put another way, do NaNoWriMo for 19 more months.

Ouch, right?

By that I don't mean you have to write 50K/month for two years, but if you spend two years writing consistently - whatever works for you, whether every day or not - then you'll be getting somewhere. That can be offputting, but every successful writer I know has some version of that as part of their story.

The best part is, once you build that writing habit, something magical happens: the story really does begin to write in your head. Even when you're not actually putting words on the page, part of yourself is brewing the story, so that when you go to write, it's there for you and flows out.


This is a really huge BUT -

Remember that this is on the OTHER SIDE OF THE HYPHEN. If you think the story is all written in your head, but you've never written and *finished* an entire book, you're very likely kidding yourself. There's just no way around that.

So cheers to all in the middle stretch of NaNoWriMo! This is when it starts to feel grueling. Remember that you're building a great habit. Keep it up!


  1. I love this topic, Jeffe! Some great posts so far this week. And, YES! Seeing the entire book in your mind's eye is great but only the first step. There are so, so many steps after that...