18 07 19
Writing is rarely as easy as it looks

 Many people assume that good writers are born that way. A modicum of natural talent is certainly helpful; however, when it comes to long-term writing success, good work habits make all the difference. How many gifted writers are there with half-finished work on their hard drives? The completion of a well-written project requires solid work habits, discipline, and self-knowledge. Luckily, these are not traits; they are skills that can be learned!

These pro tips from successful writers will help you see your work through from start to finish.

Getting Ready to Write

Sometimes, just sitting down to work is the biggest obstacle! Whether it’s challenging yourself with a deadline, setting aside time for writing, or avoiding distractions, writers need to engage self-discipline to create the opportunity to be creative.

  1. Deadlines Are Your Friends

Deadlines can be a blessing in disguise. They propel you through the more difficult stages of your process, helping that end goal to stay within view. Self-motivated projects are understandably challenging to complete—so create deadlines for yourself. Essay contests and job applications can help provide motivating deadlines for a writer.

While some creative writers may find adrenaline to be a helpful motivational tool, with academic or business writing, it is more likely to result in sloppy work. Your arguments will be stronger and your vocabulary richer if you avoid the stress of a rapidly approaching end-date. By getting a head start, you won’t short change the vital editing process, and you won’t be thrown off course if setbacks occur.

  1. Limit Distractions

Short story writer Nathan Englander advises, “If you want to get work done, you’ve got to learn to unplug.” When you hit roadblocks in your work, it can feel like a relief to distract yourself by messaging a friend. However, studies prove that productivity skyrockets when personal phones are kept out of sight, or at least switched to “airplane mode.”

For many writers, working at home is the easiest way to avoid noise and distractions. However, if you have children or pets, messy areas might become an additional distraction (and a temptation to procrastinate). It can be hard to focus when surrounded by piles of dirty laundry.

Morning is a particularly peaceful time to write

  1. Use Your Most Productive Hours

The best time to write varies from writer to writer. Often, finding your ideal writing window will depend on how you work best. If you require silence to focus, early morning is a great choice (before anyone has the chance to distract you). Writers Toni Morrison, Ernest Hemingway, and Haruki Murakami famously preferred the early hours for their efforts.

One advantage of morning writing is a sense of accomplishment that can carry you throughout the day. You’ve made progress; now you can relax without writing looming all afternoon. Use the time for editing, administrative tasks, or research, and focus on writing during your most fruitful hours.

Finding a distraction-free workspace

  1. Create Your Optimal Environment

Not every writer prefers absolute silence or solitude. The presence of others can also be inspiring and comforting. This helps explain the rise in popularity of co-working spaces, which are popping up all over campuses and urban centers. The library can also be a pleasant respite from the busy atmosphere of a coffee shop. Regardless of where you work, noise-cancelling earphones can help shut out the chatter. Just be sure to pick music that inspires you! Up-tempo instrumental music can keep you from succumbing to boredom and fatigue.

  1. Finally: Forget The Rules!

It can be challenging to stick to a regular writing routine with the stresses of our daily lives. It’s important not to fret over less-than-ideal circumstances if you can’t change them. As E.B. White put it, “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”

It’s also helpful to remember that even the best writers don’t always feel like sitting down to work. As Henry Miller once said, “write according to program and not according to mood.”

Now That You’ve Started

Congratulations: you’re off! These simple techniques will help you stay focused while improving your results.

Using a timer can help you stay focused

  1. Set Short-Term Goals

Short-term goalposts can help you drive towards the finish line. You choose the writing interval, which may vary from project to project. When writing a thesis, for example, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by such a seemingly monumental task. However, when you break that task up into manageable increments, anything is possible! Just take it one step at a time. Whether it’s a half hour or an hour, all you need to worry about it keeping your head down until the buzzer sounds. Be wary of using your phone as a timer, since this may tempt you to use it as a distraction.

  1. Leave Yourself Somewhere to Start

If you don’t know where to start the next day, sitting down to write can seem impossibly daunting. One oft-repeated piece of advice is to stop writing for the day (or the session) in the middle of a sentence or paragraph. If you provide yourself with a launching pad, you’ll start work focused and inspired, and you’ll get the satisfaction of “finishing” something early in the session. If you’re working from an outline, know exactly where you’ll begin the next day before signing off, to fend off that dreaded fear of the blank page.

 Exercise is a powerful stress reliever

  1. Move Your Body

Sometimes, when a section is particularly frustrating, a walk or jog can be just what you need. Exercise can clear your head and get you back on track, refreshed. It’s hard sitting at a desk for hours on end! If you’ve set your timer and worked for your allotted time, use your break period to get moving. A walk around the block, a dip in the pool, or a few jumping jacks can be enough to get you energized. Kurt Vonnegut once reported that he broke up his writing with push-ups and sit-ups to fend off lethargy.

Editing And Rewriting

Make self-editing a key part of your process

This can sometimes seem like the toughest part of writing, but it is one of the most critical steps for doing good work. Neil Gaiman described revision as “a process of making it look like you knew what you were doing all along.”

  1. Get Feedback

Go to one or two trusted friends, but don’t go to ten. The further along you are in your career, the more likely you are to have respectful, trusting relationships with other writers. Don’t be afraid to reach out, but avoid the temptation to ask everyone for their “take” on your work. Too many opinions can be counter-productive, particularly if the views are from individuals with a limited understanding of your topic.

If you don’t have anyone you feel comfortable showing your work, or if you’re pressed for time, consulting a professional writing service can be invaluable.

  1. Know When To Delete

Editing the same passages repeatedly can be time-consuming and frustrating. If your wording isn’t creating the desired effect, or if you’re finding it too difficult to make a succinct point, radical surgery may be required. Delete the problematic passage and start over. If it doesn’t work, you can always revert to an earlier version history; but often the solution will become apparent to you once you have a clean slate.

Knowing When To Walk Away

Remember: your work will never be perfect. Be satisfied knowing that you did the best you could. If you set yourself up for success with your writing habits, you can avoid fretting over sections that might have improved with more time. No writer has all the time they want, and we do the best with what we have. While you may eventually look back on your work and notice small errors that you missed, that’s simply the nature of the process.

Whether you’re writing a thesis, a research paper or a college admissions essay, know that writers all over the world struggle with the same issues you do. While there’s no “easy” way to write, establishing good writing habits will set you apart from the crowd. For expert editing and writing services, call 1 (800) 573-0840 (toll-free) to speak with a professional paper writer. With offices in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver, Masters Essay can help make sure great habits result in great writing.