Hey everybody, it’s me again! Today, I will share what I believe are overlooked but healthy writing tips and habits, particularly for new or young writers or those who will be doing NaNo for the first time. Please keep in mind that this is not intended to be an all-inclusive list. Also, all of these habits can be useful year-round. That said, let’s go!
Habit One: Regularly Tidying Up Your Workspace
If you’re anything like me, your desk slowly accumulates the last four sessions’ water cups, a cat toy or two, stacks of loose papers with lore or character references hastily scrawled across them, post-it notes, a small mountain of hair ties, and several random tchotchkes from elsewhere in your home that somehow migrated to your desk. Well, consider it time to reset!
Once a week or so I like to wipe down my desk with a 2:1 ratio of water and vinegar and either burn a candle or use my diffuser nearby to freshen up the air a little [I promise I’m not an MLM hun lol]. Wipe down your monitor, keyboard, and mouse (in a way that’s safe for electronics) and clean the dust bunnies from your wires and computer tower if you use a desktop! For the handwriters amongst you, dump out your utensil cup (or drawer, or bag, or spread out your pile), clean it out, get rid of broken or dead utensils, pencil shavings, eraser bits, whatever, and organise your stationary in a way that’s convenient for you. I know approximately nothing about typewriter care, so if you use one I will assume you know how to properly clean it!
While we’re looking at our workspace, look around and see if there’s anything you can do to change things up a bit, which might help if you feel a bit “stuck” or “murky”. If space permits, try moving your desk or working near an open window. The increased airflow could help you concentrate better [unless you’re like me and have horrific seasonal allergies, in which case it just makes you sneeze]. Try swapping out or rearranging nearby decor—paintings, tapestries, calendars, those little word art signs that say stuff like “live laugh love”, figurines, whatever. Of course, be careful to not use anything in this tip as an excuse to procrastinate.
Habit Two: Practise Telling your Inner Self-Saboteur to Get Lost
On that note, let’s talk about the two most common times I see writers (including myself) “get in their own way”: when we’re struggling with procrastination or impostor syndrome.
Easily the most common issue I have observed is procrastination. “Procrastination” is defined as “the action of delaying or postponing something”, which could be intentional or not. Sometimes we procrastinate because our subconscious has realised that there’s something dissonant about what we’ve written and where we’re trying to go. In my opinion, this is the most frequent cause of writer’s block. Other times, procrastination can arise from things like stress, untamed perfectionism, failing motivation, and low creative self-confidence. [If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues, please seek out help from a licensed professional. It’s okay to ask for help, even if you think your issue is minor.]
When I catch myself procrastinating, I find it most helpful to make a realistic to-do list and work through it piece-by-piece, giving myself as much time as I need to complete it without allowing myself to procrastinate further. Being flexible and taking time to refresh and reset guilt-free has done wonders for my productivity.
As far as impostor syndrome goes… if you write, you are a writer. There’s nothing more to it. Even if you just put down your first word six minutes ago, you’re no less worthy or meaningful as a creator than someone who’s been writing since the seventies. Nobody expects you to be an expert in the craft with a film deal and your book printed in six foreign languages before you’re allowed to share your ideas, opinions, experiences, and stories. If anybody does, then they’re the ones missing out. Communication and sharing with others is at the heart of storytelling.
So, start telling your inner self-saboteur to get lost!
This ties into our third habit, so let’s move on!