In a recent Wealthy Web Writer Reality Blog teleconference, we were asked about our habits … the good and the bad. As a web writer, you can probably easily come up with instances of both types of habits …
Our bad habits might be procrastinating or skipping a daily writing session. Our good habits are things like writing daily, asking for referrals, following up with clients, responding to job ads, and posting to our blogs.
We all know with fewer bad habits and more good habits we’ll succeed faster. We know we should write daily, for instance, but how can we actually create that good habit?
Seven Easy Steps to Make Any Action a Habit
1. Start with just one habit.
In “The Power of Less,” Leo Babauta suggests focusing on just one habit at a time. This allows you to focus all of your energy on that one habit. For example, you might choose to focus on just writing daily this month. Then, once that becomes a habit, you could add in another habit — such as responding to a job ad daily.
2. Make your first habit an easy one.
Don’t start out with a lofty, ambitious goal. You might be excited in the beginning, but you’ll likely quickly get burnt out. Instead, start small and then tackle more difficult habits later.
3. Commit to your habit.
The easiest way to create a habit that sticks is to commit to it. If you’re going to write daily, commit to doing so, and don’t let anything stand in your way. Whenever you’re tempted to skip out on your habit, remind yourself of your goal, why you want to achieve your goal, and how creating habits will help you.
4. Set a trigger event.
For example, set a certain time of the day or a daily event that will serve as a reminder — a trigger — for you to complete your habit for the day. The easiest trigger is a time of day because you can set an alarm to go off at that time every day. Examples of trigger events are brushing your teeth right after you wake up or eating at noon. Make your habit something you do automatically after your trigger event.
5. Tell everyone!
The more people you tell about your habit, the more likely you are to stick to it. Tell your friends and family, post it on social media, or write about it on your blog. Ask others to help you stick with it. Just don’t be surprised when they ask you how your new habit is going. In fact, you should invite them to ask you. It’s just one more way that will help the habit stick.
6. Check in with yourself.
If you’re working on creating a daily habit, check in every day. Before the end of the day, ask yourself if you worked on your habit. For example, if you said you’d write daily, did you? If not, do you have time to do it now? Remind yourself of your commitment and know that the more often you complete the habit, the easier it will get.
7. Keep going!
We often hear that a habit can be created in 21 days. This might not always be true. Keep following the steps above until your action is truly a habit (or something you do automatically).
Seven Daily Habits to Create Now
Now that you know how to create a habit, you might be thinking, what habit should I create? In AWAI’s “The 7 Daily Habits of Successful Copywriters,” they explain seven core habits that successful writers have …
I ignored many of these suggestions until I finally decided to get serious. Now it’s difficult to break my bad habits and pick up new, better ones.
Start creating good habits like these — today — and you’ll see success much sooner. (Remember, pick just one of these to start with and then build on that foundation … )
1. Make the commitment to be at work.
When you first start freelancing, it can be really difficult to make yourself sit down and work. You don’t have a boss telling you what to do so you have to be your own boss. If you find this habit hard to master, don’t worry — I’m still working on it every day
2. Establish a consistent schedule — and stick to it.
I usually wind up working from about 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. daily. However, like many writers, I’m more productive in the morning … if I could only master the habit of rising early. Set a schedule that works for you and then adjust it as needed. As I make the habit of getting up earlier a reality, I can change my working schedule to earlier in the day.
3. Read every day.
Develop a habit of reading every day and you’ll quickly become a better writer. Whether you’re reading fiction or “junk mail,” it counts because you never know where your next great idea might come from.
4. Write every day.
How many times have you heard this advice? If you’re still not writing daily, I recommend creating that habit before any other.
5. Prepare to write … before you write.
A habit I’m working to break right now is jumping into writing without finishing my research. All too often, I get a spark of an idea from something and off I go. Instead, I need to write my ideas down and save them until I’ve finished my research.
6. Research everything.
When you get a new project, get as much research material as you can. Ask for everything — from old, losing promos to the current marketing materials. Even interview the product creator and business owner.
7. Put writer’s block behind you.
I’ve found that preparing to write and researching everything usually gets rid of my writer’s block altogether. But, if you’re still experiencing writer’s block after following those steps, try getting away from the computer. Go for a walk, get some sunshine, or take a shower.
Another habit I would add to this list is, “Ask questions.”
When I first started freelancing, I was afraid that my questions would make me hard to work with and/or seem like a beginner. It turns out I was wrong. Every client does things differently and it’s never a good idea to assume something … instead, ask a question.
So what about you? What writing habits do you have — good or bad? And, what habits would you like to master to make web writing easier?
If you need help getting started, download your own copy of “The 7 Daily Habits of Successful Copywriters” here.