Your Writing Practice: How To Build One Confidently

Jun 4, 2024 | Ghostwriting

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You would probably be a published writer already, if only you had the time to develop a writing practice. It seems like whenever you are ready to get started, something gets in the way.

Is this a familiar refrain? It should. Even if you’re a professional, sometimes finding the right amount of time is the biggest challenge of all. 

Writing is a discipline. Like martial arts, yoga or just maintaining a healthy diet, keeping up your writing practice takes a lot of effort. You can’t just kinda, sorta…

You have to commit to the practice. 

If you’re looking to start your craft, up your game, or go professional, here are eight (some slightly unexpected) things anyone can do to build, solidify and maintain your burgeoning writing practice. 

start a writing practice today

Writing Practice Tip #1:

Know Who You Are

I think it’s vitally important to call yourself a writer. Go ahead, do it. You’re not just out there trying to be a writer. By setting out on this mission, you are already.

So many of us deal with what is affectionately known as “imposter syndrome”. We get so in awe of something we want, maybe a way of life, that we look up at it thinking, that can’t be us.

I’m here to tell you, you are a writer. No one is going to be comfortable calling you that until you’re comfortable telling yourself that. 

Writing Practice Tip #2

Word Count Counts… Sometimes

A lot of writers, especially if they’re looking at web sites, blogs and chat rooms, get obsessed with statistics. Specifically, they hone in how many words they write each day.

Admirable organizations like NaNoWriMo and 20BooksTo50K have gone a long way toward empowering new writers, and legitimizing self-publishing, but they’re numbers driven. In those circles how many words, how many books, all matter a lot.

They don’t have to be for you. Let me illustrate by example. If you write 500 words in a day and someone else writes twice that, let’s say, one thousand, does that mean you’re half the writer? No. There are great writers who write fast and others that are slow.

You decide what you do. 

writers do research too

Writing Practice Tip #3

Writing Is More Than Just Typing Words On A Computer

In order to submit a manuscript, you have to commit yourself to writing. Yes, that means you are in a seat, computer open, words filling up the blank page.

But that’s not the only thing that counts as writing. At least not in my book.

Are you writing a historical fiction book?

Researching your era is writing.

Say you’re working on a memoir and you need to talk to someone else that was there?

That’s writing too. 

Touching on tough material and find yourself staring out a mirror?

Sometimes writing is processing.

Don’t beat yourself up if what you’re doing, what feels right, doesn’t look like writing. Projects worth reading require more than just tapping keys.

Writing Practice Tip #4

Give Yourself Space

On the topic of bolts and nuts, once you get to writing, you’re going to need space. Maybe it’s a dedicated office, a cleared off place at the kitchen table, or a library terminal. Whatever that is, you’re going to need somewhere you can focus.

The real key here, I think, is flexibility. Your writing practice, at least when you’re starting out, should allow you the room to figure it out. Maybe your kitchen table works on certain days, but now that it’s summer and the kids are home from school, you need to knock on the door of the local cafe. 

Writing Practice Tip #5

Time Is On Your Side

For so many writers, new and old, this is the key element. All of this takes time and, for most of us, enough time is a struggle that we never seem to win. 

One truth I’ve found when it comes to the time struggle is this: you have to stake your claim on time, morning noon or night, and fight to maintain that. If you work better in the morning and can stake out thirty minutes, that’s great. Do it. Tell everyone that from 6:30 till 7:00, you’re writing. 

Even though it’s hard to imagine for some, I suggest trying the direct approach. People want to help. They feel good supporting your pursuit of a dream. If you’re supportive, and work with those people, you may find that the 6:30 to 7:00 time slot becomes yours. 

Then it becomes 6:30 to 7:30. 

Writing Practice Tip #6

Give Yourself Motivation

What is the difference between money and rewards? Do you know? 

Every year, I teach a class on what I see the differences are. To condense that hour class into a couple of sentences, the difference is this: money is something you receive in exchange for labor. A reward is more complex, for most coming in a less tangible form.

Develop a system of rewards for yourself. Because, in most cases, the possibility of earning money may be a long way off. If you want to take yourself out to dinner to celebrate your first chapter, great. Whatever you can do to make the journey rewarding, I recommend doing it. 

writing practice

Writing Practice Tip #7

Surround Yourself With Resources

I love books. The love of books is, in large part, what drives me to write. This goes for both my stories and the stories belonging to my clients. 

I keep myself surrounded with a lot of resources at all times. Thick hard backed reference books. Maps and atlases. Novels and magazines. I find that reading them in bits and pieces helps move me forward. 

Maintaining a practice, I believe, is about keeping informed. You can do this a lot of different ways. Podcasts, YouTube channels, how-to books. 

Again, it’s whatever works for you.

Writing Practice Tip #8

Talk To Other Writers About What Works For Them

This comes as a part of bigger advice about writing. I think it’s critical that you talk about what you do. 

I’m not talking about shouting from the rooftops that you’re now working on a young adult “romantasy” novel (you can do this, actually, if you think that it might work for you). What am I talking about? Deliberately building a network of writers, both established and new, people you can talk to about what works (or doesn’t) for them.

I’m just one writer. I’m flattered you read this far, but let me tell you something. On this, as with most topics, I’m not the last word. I’m just one voice for you to consider. 

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If you take anything away from this, remember this one thing: the process of creating a professional level writing practice takes time. The demands on a person are also ever-changing. Your life is not static, meaning, one day you might struggle with focus and the next day it’s a mountain of appointments. 

Give yourself a break. Take the bad with the good. Then tomorrow, you’re right back on the saddle, ready to start all over again.