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Andrew Palmer
Group Editor
8:01 AM 13th January 2024
lifestyle
Review

Written: How To Keep Writing And Build A Habit That Lasts

 
As we herald another new year, many of us will be looking to detox with Dry January, while others plan to go to the gym, diet, or both.

My main resolution for 2024 is not to get distracted and to focus; mobile phones, tablets, and computers mean we often get sidetracked and lose motivation.

Getting into a routine helps - one of the many themes of How to keep writing and build a habit that lasts, which I was pleased to receive at the end of 2023.

Basically, it is a coaching manual packed with lots of good advice, tips, and case studies to help us stop procrastinating and overcome writing blocks. And, although it is written with budding novelists, journalists, and bloggers in mind, a lot of the common-sense material can be applied to anything we aim to achieve in the coming year.

It is not a thesis on how to write; at its heart, it is about the push we need to get into the habit of producing daily, weekly, or monthly copy.

The authors’ style is conversational, and the structure is well organised. They have answered basic questions that I, and I’m sure you, will have asked, such as: How do I keep motivated? How can I tell if I’m procrastinating or just needing a break? There are three main parts: The Approach, Start Writing, Keep Writing and a conclusion. Each chapter has some good graphics to introduce it and concludes with ‘The Writer’s Sandbox’ - practical tips and exercises to help you apply what you’ve just read.

The book helps us challenge our preconceptions about mindsets and also considers the thorny issue of time.

I did smile to myself when I got to a short section on the effort of paying attention to read: ‘It’s difficult, if not impossible, to multitask when we’re processing in slow mode. It’s why we might stop what we’re doing when we ask a difficult question. It’s the reason why we might want to write in silence or why libraries and exam halls tend to be quiet’.

Try going to a library, or, as they should be called these days, community centres. No one says “shhh” anymore. The idea that they were places you could go sit and concentrate has long gone; my local library welcomes all kinds of groups that chatter away, and schoolchildren congregate at the end of the learning day to chatter, vape, and eat!

The lessons and solutions from the sage and straightforward advice show that productivity is easy to conquer, something that should not be shied away from, and how easy it is to project manage the structure needed to get started and continue writing. It is an absorbing and useful treatise, and if one of your goals is to find time to write regularly, then it will be an invaluable, pragmatic, and useful source to hold yourself to account.

As Cheryl Strayed is quoted as saying, “Writing, as with everything in life, is that you have to do it in a way that works for you.”

I have already introduced changes to my daily work pattern, and it is a source I will return to, especially if, like the early sign-ups to the gym or new-year diet, the motivation begins to wane. All the resources are available via a link in the book, so whether you are staring at a blank computer screen or piece of paper ready to write for pleasure and play, an audience, or for publication, then this book is just the gentle nudge you will need.

Written: How to keep writing and build a habit that lasts is written by Bec Evans & Chris Smith and published by Icon Books
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