by Aleisha Brooks
May 4, 2023
Become the Writer You’ve Always Wanted to Be
Writing has been in my family for generations. I didn’t know it when I started writing at the age of seven, but slowly as I grew up, and found hidden poetry by my father, watched my brother write short stories and songs, and finally at age nineteen when I sent my great uncle, a famous Sci-fi writer (who shall remain unnamed) a letter with a copy of my synopsis for my book Isabella’s Letters, I realized that my calling was not only my calling. It belonged to several generations of writers in my family and it also belongs to you.
If Writing is Truly Your Calling, You Must Write Every Day
According to scientific studies, it takes 21 days to form a habit, but it can take just a day to break it. So you must write every day.
But what if the ideas are not flowing? If you’re anything like me, I’m a dreamer, puzzled and curious, but also observant. Observation is key in your journey to creating new worlds that fascinate you and others.
So write in a journal or doodle on paper. Write a silly story or just free-flow some ideas. You’re not going to write the Great American Novel today. It’s okay. With baby steps every day, you will get farther than you dreamed possible.
It’s All About Building Momentum
Write every single day even if it’s for two minutes or five minutes. Your goal is to get in at least 20 minutes every single day in the first week so you can train your brain and build longer endurance writing. By week two, you will find 30 minutes fly by. Eventually, you’ll write nonstop for an hour, then two hours, and then several hours in the day, if not the whole day. Your goal on Day 21 is your thought pattern has become a habit, which is an unshakable discipline.
There must be a shift from what you see as important. If you write during the Super Bowl and you’re a football fan, you’ll maybe squeeze in a few minutes during the half-time show, but unlikely. You may have to wait for four hours before you write a single word. It’s about priorities. You could be employed full-time and also attend night classes, like a good part of this country trying to make ends meet. But you can still write. Remember you’re training your brain to do the thing you love. It is a discipline, and it is an art, but it is one that you can train yourself to immediately jump into if you only write every single day.
If you stop writing for several days, days can turn into weeks, months, and years, I know this because I’ve personally done it. Notice I didn’t say, it’s happened to me. I did not write. That’s my responsibility. So you want to write every single day, even if it’s for five minutes.
It bears repeating. Make sure that you’re not distracted. You don’t have to go anywhere, nobody is nagging you or asking you to carry out some chore, you don’t have errands to run… You would not believe the ideas that come into my head when I finally sit down to write. “Do this, do that,” my interruptive mind says to me. And I have to push that aside and just say no. There is nothing more important than writing right now unless your two-year-old’s fingers are inching toward the electrical socket.
It takes discipline to not get sucked into your favorite TV or Netflix show. Once you decide on your writing time, whether it’s morning or night (for those who are working 40 hours already, yes we have to decide if we’re waking up early or staying up late, but it’s worth it). Take that time and decide that is your time. It belongs to you and it’s your writing time, no other time.
If you do have errands, I find it easier to do these right after work or during lunch to save as many minutes as possible. And if you’re an Uber or Lyft driver, you can do these in between rides. Get tasks that are on your mind done right away, or make a list that you will get to at another specified time so that they’re out of the way and off your mind.
Prepare for Lift Off
To get into your proper mindset and get your groove on, set up your space with everything you need. If you like to write with music then turn that on low in the background if you need silence have earphones or earplugs ready just in case the rustles of the house or the outside distract you.
Another hot tip: you could get a noise canceling device, it’s a small machine and makes white noise to cancel out other sounds. Fans also work, should the day not be too cold already. Temperature can be a factor. Some like a cold house, and some prefer it warm. Make sure the house or the room is at a comfortable temperature so that you feel comfortable and you’re not thinking about how cold or hot you are while you are in the creative flow.
Have everything you need around you: a dictionary, thesaurus, research books, and whatever you need access to in a pinch. Have everything to hand so that you don’t have to stop and go pick up something from the library or get distracted by some long internet search. Whatever you need should be right at your disposal, on your desk or nearby, but preferably on your desk. During this writing time, you are only writing and not doing anything else. This is the best way to get a lot of work done. Also for some people eating sweets might work but for others, it could make you crash, as your blood sugar goes up and then drops down making you feel tired. This is not ideal when you’re trying to do a marathon of writing. Unless this is how your mind operates better, don’t write on an empty stomach, make sure you have some nutrition in you before you start otherwise, it’s going to be a distraction. I know my mind and stomach gang up on me and the next thing I know, I’ve eaten a whole box of cookies or crackers. So, ensure you’re nourished, and then make your tea or coffee and get to it.
In my next post, we’ll go more in-depth about ways you stop yourself from writing and how to crack that.
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Aleisha would be more than happy to hear from you.