I’ve lost count of how many times a dentist has scolded me for not flossing enough. I hit my early 20s and one day just decided I didn’t like being nagged about neglecting a habit that might take five minutes at the very most to do.
I started flossing daily, actually. And it’s weirdly made me a better writer.
You’re going to have to bear with me for a few paragraphs. Flossing your teeth and writing don’t have ANYTHING in common … unless you like making strange connections between mundane activities and the writing process, as I do.
Taking care of your teeth is a process. It doesn’t take up much time in your day, overall, but if you don’t do it, there are consequences. Writing is the same way. It takes up a very specific part of your day. If you don’t do it, your progress is going to suffer gradually over time.
The reason so many people struggle with the writing process – sitting down and writing something; taking an idea and creating something from it; sticking with it; finishing it – is because it’s a process all based on habit. Because writing can be considered a creative activity, many don’t consider the fact that if you want to accomplish anything as a writer – whether for fun or for work – you have to put in the effort to form the habits that will make success happen for you.
Back to flossing. You’re supposed to floss every day – at least that’s what I’ve been told my whole life, even though it’s effectiveness is being questioned. Still, it’s one of those daily habits that won’t HURT you, even if it doesn’t necessarily do you much good. Awhile ago I started flossing every day. I do not enjoy flossing. But I made sure to start doing it daily, so that it became a habit. And that’s when I made the connection.
Do you enjoy writing every single time you sit down to do it? Probably not. I sure don’t. I have a handful of articles to write this weekend, and I’m not looking forward to it. But a long time ago I decided to make writing a daily habit. Why? Because even when I don’t want to do it – even when I feel distracted, even when I’m not in a writing “mood” – I sit down and I do it anyway. It’s habitual. It’s easier now, because it’s almost automatic.
If you really struggle with writing consistently, consider forming a daily writing habit. Writing every day isn’t necessary – there are plenty of successful writers who don’t, and they’re doing fine. But it won’t necessarily hurt you, if you don’t make the mistake of overworking yourself. It makes those “I don’t feel like writing” days a lot easier to get through. You wake up, and you know at some point that day, you’re going to write something. A journal entry, or a blog post, or a few passages of an unfinished novel. There’s no wondering, “Am I going to write today?” It’s already planned. You already know the answer.
It’s just a suggestion. There’s really no “right” or “wrong” way here. I’m willing to bet you’ll try anything, though, if it might help you write more consistently and travel closer to success.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.