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April 4, 2016

on writing (7 habits of a writer)

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I wish there was a formula. As I’ve delved deeper into the writing world these last few months, I’ve realized how far from that the process truly is. However, there are some habits that I have implemented that have pushed me along my journey and helped me reach my goals.

I’m privileged to be published on The Mudroom this morning! My essay (you can find it here) highlights how impossible goals can feel, especially when they seem intangible. Getting published was my main goal when I started writing again in January, and yet somehow, placing so much emphasis on this feels contradictory to the heart of why we write.

“A seed was planted in my mind that day my friend held my first work so near to her heart—a seed that grew into a heavy realization that my words matter. My writing matters and has the ability to change people’s lives, to impart hope and spread joy. Even if it’s just one piece of paper, folded in one wallet, creased and worn until it’s nearly unrecognizable. It matters.” (Writing for Ducks)

Writing, to me, is a creative expression of our souls – art, springing forth into carefully crafted words on the page to make even the mundane seem beautiful. We don’t need to be a published author to participate, and yet our words have only half-accomplished what they set out to do once they spill out from our hearts and share our stories. It is only when our words have been picked up, taken in, mulled over and enjoyed that their job is done.

Writers long for readers. Even if it’s just one.

Here are seven habits that have helped me get to the place I am today. I’m thankful and honored to be sharing my journey with you, my readers.

Thank you for being my readers!

7 Habits of a Writer

  1. Write every day. I can’t say enough how beneficial this has been to getting me in a rhythm. For me, this looks like sitting on the couch when both kids are taking a nap and writing for at least an hour every day. Not everything I write is good, and it definitely doesn’t always fit into a piece I’m working on, but I sit and type and then save a word document every single day.
  2. Read every day. To me, this is just as important as writing. How will we get better if we don’t learn from the best? Read fiction, read non-fiction, read online journals and literary magazines. If you’re wanting to submit an article to a certain journal, become an expert in that journal and read every issue available.
  3. Let other writers read your drafts. I am blessed to have a group of three other women who love writing just as much as I do. Our geographic locations are spread out over the country, but our hearts are in the same spot. We share stories with each other before we share them with the world. It’s a safe place to grow in your craft and get feedback from other writers. This may be the best thing on this list.
  4. Notice more. See that man sitting on the park bench? Yes, the old one, but also the one with the worn cap and the crinkly eyes that look like they’ve seen just a little too much. The eyes that look like they’re seeing something else, even though they’re pointed at the dog by his side. Yes, the dog that’s focused on the squirrel, but don’t you see how his body is relaxed and leaning into the man’s leg? The dog is resting with his friend and there’s no chance he’s leaving that man’s side, even for a squirrel. There are so many stories in every scene.
  5. Be inspired. What are you passionate about? Get fired up because passion makes good writing even better. What do you love? Go spend time doing it. Go live a little in between your writing sessions. What would we write about if we didn’t first live?
  6. Practice the craft. Challenge yourself as you get better. Write a poem. Write an extended metaphor. Find a writing prompt that scares you. Find a piece by a seasoned author and try to emulate their style and composition, but keep your voice yours. We will only get better if we keep reaching for the next step.
  7. Write every day. Did I mention this? It’s really the key. Even if you’re just writing a caption for an Instagram post where you captured a little glimpse of inspiration, write. Make it count. Read through it before you hit “publish” and find one way to revise it and make it even more powerful. Find a way to sneak in a literary device in your Facebook statuses. These little exercises are how great pieces and books are born.

4 Comments on “on writing (7 habits of a writer)

Abby Perry
April 4, 2016 at 8:19 am

This is stellar! I’m saving it to refer back to when I’m feeling all lost in the world of writing (so, about every other day). Thanks for this, friend.

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Sarah Elizabeth
April 4, 2016 at 8:30 am

I’m with you, there, because these are the things I keep telling myself in the trenches! Glad to be in them with you :).

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Ashley Brooks (@BrooksEditorial)
April 30, 2016 at 6:37 pm

I love this, especially practicing to get better and letting others read our drafts. It can be easy to get in a routine of writing in a vacuum where we don’t really push ourselves. These two are key to building up a supportive community and constantly working to get better at our creative work!

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Sarah Elizabeth
April 30, 2016 at 7:20 pm

Ashley, thank you so much! These two things have definitely pushed me lately.

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