Apr 8, 2008

establishing your writing habits

I’m on a Julia Cameron kick, even though she’s not my all-time favorite writing writer. Don’t get me wrong, she’s great – but I like reading practical stuff about writing, like how to write query letters and how to take all those old ideas and twist them into something new. Morning Pages never really did it for me.

Anyway, on to Julia’s advice about artists and trainers…

Writing quotation: “In order to succeed as an artist we must have two well-developed functions: our artist and its trainer. The trainer is steady and adult. It keeps its eye on the course and the long run. It coaxes, wheedles, begs, cajoles, and occasionally disciplines our artist, which Westie-like, proceeds in spurts and sometimes not at all,” Cameron says in Finding Water: The Art of Perseverance.

“The trick is setting the jumps low enough that our artist can be lured into action. If I am writing nonfiction, I set my goal at a modest three pages. Almost anyone can write three pages of something and my artist knows that.”

Writing tip: Julia Cameron's writing habit includes 3 pages. Yours can be 3 paragraphs or 3,000 words. Or, you can write for 3 hours – or just 30 minutes. The trick is to do something every day that moves you forward.

I’m a freelance magazine writer, and right now I have 5 articles due (yay!). The deadlines vary from this Friday to two months from now – and I get scared. Insecure, and anxious, and pressured. I want the articles to be fantastic, and I want to keep my editors happy.

What works best for me is to work a little on each article every day, whether it’s writing the sidebar or emailing sources or researching or finetuning the lead. My ideal goal would be to spend an hour a day on each article – but I tend to get lost in the article I’m working on and I run out of time for the others.

What works best for you? It doesn’t matter how I work, or how Julia Cameron writes, or how Mark Twain wrote. What matters is finding what works best for you, and making that a habit.

And tossing back a shot of espresso or whatever suits your fancy every once in a while never hurts, either.

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