By Jenny Kate
As we embark on a new year, tons of folks are thinking about how to develop new habits.
- Go to the gym.
- Eat better.
- Write more.
Habits and goals are important. They give us purpose. And purpose gives us longevity. I’ve been thinking a lot about Blue Zones. These are the locations in the world with the most people aged 100 or more. One is a place close to my heart. The Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica. We go for Christmas every few years. It’s one of my favorite places on the planet. Surfing. Jungle. Sun. I’m off the grid for two weeks. I read paper books. And I just get to be. As I was there this past year, I was thinking, why do these people live so long?
Writing Habits from Centenarians
Their longevity seems to boil down to four things: diet, exercise, community, and purpose.
Diet & Exercise – duh
We’ve all heard it a million times. Eat healthier and move. Honestly, I can’t help you with your diet. Although I can tell you most of the folks in Nicoya eat a crap ton of fruits and veggies and some fish. Lots of rice and beans and plantains too.
They also live in a place where being outside is part of the culture. Beach every morning to surf or swim or walk. Beach at sunset for obvious reasons. Walk everywhere.
During the pandemic, I got in the habit of a daily walk. Kurt Vonnegut did pushups and sit ups all the time. Nora Roberts works out every day. What can you do to get yourself moving? Feeling better keeps you motivated to keep writing.
The importance of community can’t be overstated. Writing is a solitary business. But producing books is all about community. Beta readers, street teams, agents, editors, proofreaders, critique partners.
Whether it’s in person or virtual, you are not alone in this writing endeavor. And community can keep you motivated to stick to your daily writing habits. Your community can be whoever supports your writing: immediate family, friends, colleagues at work, or writing buds. It just has to be a group of people that provide a positive environment for you.
Purpose is the one aspect of this I think we control the most and might be the hardest. What is our writing purpose? To create wonderful worlds for our readers? To entertain, excite, scare?
How do you maintain that purpose when things like imposter syndrome sneak in?
This is where daily writing habits can be helpful.
- Specific amount of writing time
- Specific number of words written
- Specific chapters finished in a certain time period
- Specific timeframe work is due to the editor
Daily writing habits can be helpful if you have your community to hold you accountable. Whether it’s pages to your critique partners or chapters to your proofreader, a deadline to a human being can be motivating.
If this doesn’t motivate you enough to create your writing habits, then maybe some of the famous among us can.
Writing Habits from Famous Authors
Several bestsellers repeat the same mantra: “It’s our job.” If a doctor said he didn’t feel like it today, a life could be lost. A bit dramatic, but the point is, it’s our job. We sit down and we write. We produce stories. No one’s habit or process will be the same. But having that habit or process is what puts books on the shelves.
Ernest Hemingway: “I write every morning.”
Jodi Picoult: “I don’t believe in writer’s block. You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page.”
Khaled Hosseini: “You have to write whether you feel like it or not.”
Toni Morrison: “I am able to write regularly. I have a nine-to-five job. I write either in between those hours or spend a lot of the weekend and predawn time writing.”
Henry Miller: “Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema – all these come after.”
Nora Roberts: “I write every day. It’s my job. Routine is my life.” and “Stop whining and write.”
Joe Lansdale: “I write every morning at 9, and I’m done by noon.”
Maya Angelou: “I make writing as much a part of my life as I do eating or listening to music.”
Whether you take it from the Centenarians or the Famous Writers, find the writing habit that works for you. Stick with it for a month and see what happens.
Jenny Kate is the founder of Writer Nation, an online space dedicated to helping writers market their work. With 19 years communications experience, she regularly writes on social media, internet marketing and face-to-face publicity. You can find her on her Website, Facebook, and Instagram