Staring at a blank screen with a blinking cursor is the scariest moment for every writer. Sometimes, ideas just don’t flow. Other times, you have a great idea but struggle to put it into words.
I have been there a lot during my 2.5 years as a writer. And I know this is what makes you hate the process. It’s what messes with your consistency and traps you in the dark cave of writer’s block.
But remember, there are solutions to every problem. In this case the solution is these 7 powerful habits that can transform you as a writer. They will boost your skills and make you truly enjoy the process.
I have personally practiced these habits and seen their benefits. On top of that, many successful novelists, copywriters, and authors swear by them too.
And no, this isn’t your generic advice, like writing daily in the morning. Actually, these habits have less to do with writing and more with your lifestyle. These are things you do away from your computer.
So, ready to be a captivating writer? Here we go…
7 Powerful Habits to Be a Successful Writer
I have been doing this for a couple of months now. And believe me when I say it’s the most powerful exercise to improve your writing.
All you have to do is just take a great piece of writing and copy it in your handwriting as it is. Simple.
You can copy anything that is well-written. If you want to be a copywriter, hand-copy proven and successful ads in the past. If you want to be a novelist, hand-copy chapters of novels by your favorite authors. And so on.
How is this exercise so effective? Well, when you write something in your handwriting, that piece of writing becomes a part of you. The words, the sentence structure, the flow, the rhythm, the sequence of information, and everything that makes it great gets programmed into your mind.
You understand what it is that makes beautiful writing so beautiful. You start to think and act like successful writers. However, don’t expect quick results. This may take months of regular practice, and the effort is completely wroth it.
This (hand-copying) isn’t just an empty experience. This is a way of internally imprinting on your mind and body, the process of good writing.
— Gary Halbert, The Boron Letters
There was a time when I used to work all day long in my closed room. I wouldn’t go out. I wouldn’t see the open sky. I wouldn’t breathe fresh air. And this continued for around 37 days.
Then, I started feeling sluggish and blunt. I struggled to come up with ideas. It was like my creativity was dying.
Then, one day, I read a tweet that shared how walking for just 30 minutes improves your brain function and makes you creative. I researched more and realized what I was missing.
The next day, I started walking first thing in the morning for around 45 minutes. Within a few days, I saw the difference. And truth be told, I didn’t expect a simple habit like walking can have such incredible effects.
So, based on what I experienced and what the research says, here’s how walking can help you write better:
- It reduces your stress and refreshes your mind
- It lets you remain focused throughout the day
- It sharpens thinking and improves reasoning
- You get creative ideas while walking
- Your work productivity shoots up
That’s a lot of benefits!
So, walk in the morning or between your writing sessions. Do it in natural settings with open space and fresh air if possible. This simple activity can have a tremendous positive impact on your mental and physical health.
If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking. Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk.
— Raymond Inmon
You already know about this one. But I am not simply asking you to read in your mind. You have to READ ALOUD. (I mean, not so loud that your neighbor has a hard time sleeping. Just loud enough so that you can hear it.)
You can read aloud those great writing pieces you have selected for the hand-copy purpose (habit #1).
The benefits of reading aloud are similar to the hand-copy habit. It feeds your mind with great writing and lets you understand the writing process of successful artists.
It programs your mind so well that words come naturally when you sit down to write. And it’s powerful because you engage three of your senses- eyes, tongue, and ear in this activity.
I READ ALOUD whenever I find well-written material, be it novels, self-help books, blogs, Medium stories, and marketing copy. This not only improves my writing but also inspires me to write more.
Reading is like breathing in, and writing is like breathing out.
— Pam Allyn
Journaling is a terrific activity to sharpen your writing skills. All you have to do is take a diary and write down your day-to-day events.
You can record your thoughts, share your mistakes, or describe your daily experiences (whether painful or exciting).
This exercise is helpful because it forces you to write consistently. You learn to face the blank page and fill it with your ideas. You have your creative juices flowing every day, which helps you combat writer’s block.
Journaling lets you practice organizing thoughts, expressing emotions, and describing things in your mind. This is a free writing exercise you do without pressure or deadline. So, you develop a deep love for the craft of writing.
I have been journaling for the last 7 years. And I feel so proud to see the diaries I have filled with daily happenings. It’s like I am writing my life story.
I can shake off everything if I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.
― Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl
I don’t think I need to talk much about this. You already know how meditation can calm your mind and improve your focus. But I had to include this on the list because it is a MUST exercise for writers.
If you are like most creative people, you would often be agitated, worried, scared, hopeless, or stressed. Meditation helps you deal with all these.
Just 10 minutes of good meditation, and your mind gets into a state of monk-like peacefulness. The stress reduces, your ability to concentrate increases, and your productivity gets boosted. Your mind slows down for sharp thinking and creative ideas pay you a visit.
You see what’s happening here? Just 10 minutes a day is letting you work with laser focus for the rest of the day. You have to admit meditation is the best ROI for your time.
And that’s actually the reason I meditate daily. Honestly speaking, I don’t want to do it some days because sitting down and focusing on your breathing is plain boring. But I meditate anyway. Because most good things in life are those you won’t like doing.
Silence is a source of Great Strength.
― Lao Tzu
6. Watching TV
It’s time to drop the misconception that watching TV wastes time. Because movies and TV series can actually make you a better writer. Here’s how:
First of all, movies and TV series are basically stories. So, consuming them is the best way to learn the art of storytelling.
You can observe how a TV series hooks you and makes you binge-watch it. See how they create story gaps that urge you to find out what happens next. Then, you can apply the same concept in your writing to make the readers curious and fully immerse in your work.
Second, movies use a lot of sensory details like expressions, lighting, colors, sounds, music, costume designs, framing, etc., that make you feel things. You can mostly replicate these details in your writing with the help of descriptive language so that it can also evoke emotions.
Third, observe the dialogues. Almost all great movies have concise, crisp, and easy-to-understand dialogues. This can teach you how to convey a point in the least possible words and be bold in your writing.
If you ask me, Forrest Gump, Dark, The Office, Breaking Bad, and The Dark Knight are some movies and TV shows with the best dialogues.
Movies can also be a tremendous source of inspiration and creativity. So, I would suggest you see at least one or two movies a week. You can also spend 20–30 minutes watching an episode of a series daily. Just do it through the eyes of a writer, and you will learn a lot.
A good movie makes the audience feel like they’ve journeyed with the characters.
― Rich Moore
7. Doing Nothing
Yeah, you read that right. Do nothing. Just sit down and stare at the wall.
You see, what happens with most writers is they race from one task to another. You may juggle between writing, reading, working in the day job, scrolling social media, planning, shopping, spending time with family, and so on. These are important tasks. But they really exhaust your mind.
Doing nothing gives you a much-needed break. This is the time when you shut the external noise and listen to yourself. You disengage your mind from everything, and so it gets a chance to:
- Make connections between things
- Find genius solutions to your problems
- See everything from a different angle
- Come up with some brilliant ideas
The brain is in the peak creative state when it has to do nothing. I have got some of the best LinkedIn post, blog post, and YouTube video ideas while sitting idly.
So, spend about 20 minutes daily just gazing out the window or staring at the ceiling. You can also do house chores or engage in other art forms like painting. The idea is to free your mind.
Sometimes sitting and doing nothing is the best something you can do.
― Karen Salmansohn
I have found these 7 habits extremely powerful. And so are thousands of other writers. But this doesn’t mean it will be the same for you. Everybody is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. So experiment and see which works for you and makes you the most creative and productive.