1. Pick a Gripping Topic
What grabs your interest? Think about the types of books and articles you like to read. How do the authors tackle the subject? Try writing a short piece, especially if you are just starting to develop a writing habit. Start with a post about 250 words long. Generally, much of the best writing I’ve come across is, at some level, exploration. Art is fundamentally exploration. Start with an interesting topic, one you want to know more about, and explore.
2. Pick a Time to Write
In order to make sure that I get my writing done every day, I choose a specific time to write. The specific time will differ for each person but getting even a half hour in each day is far better than being the aspiring writer who only writes once or twice a week. Pick a time, any time you want. If you are busy, try to fit in a half hour at the start or end of your day.
3. Write freely, edit critically
This is a take on Hemingway’s notion that one should write while drunk and edit while sober. The first draft is just that — a first draft. Write as much as possible for the first draft. Quantity matters more than quality at this stage. Write in incomplete sentences. Throw in outlines and words on their own if you have to. Just get as many words on the page as possible. Do not wait for inspiration. Inspiration develops as you are working.
4. Have a Designated Writing Space
Part of developing a writing routine means having a space where you write on a regular basis. While it is ideal to be comfortable writing in different areas, designate a specific location as an office (or studiolo in my case) where you do your writing. I would also recommend having books in this area to help inspire you. Keep this space free of distractions as best you can. No TVs and preferably no phones either.
5. Beware of the Internet
Generally, I would recommend not going on the internet at all during the time you have set aside for writing. It is too easy to get distracted checking email and going back and forth between various open tabs. If you feel you have to check various things on the internet, I would recommend either waiting (and using that as a reward for working) or having a shorter writing session. Every day is composed of 86,400 seconds. Each one of us gets this 86,400 at the start of each day. These are nonrefundable — use them as best you can. Does checking various tabs online really bring you greater value than getting say an hour of uninterrupted writing in?
Bonus Tip: Music Helps
I do have the internet up while writing but am not actively engaged. The reason for this is to have background music. This is one thing which I recommend to everyone. If you are going to have background music, make sure that you either have a playlist. Do not play a bunch of three-minute songs where you have to go back to the internet to find the next one. Personally, I recommend epic or classical music. In the past, there have been those who recommend classical to improve cognition (the so-called ‘Mozart Effect’ falls under this category). I would argue that listening to epic music (or any type which gets you pumped up) will be much more effective at promoting an environment where you can write more.