3 Destructive Writing Habits

Most every writer has a few bad habits. I mean, when making a habit of writing, it’s fairly easy to add other habits into the mix of our process. Many bad habits are mostly harmless, like chewing pens or mumbling your characters’ lines out loud. However, sometimes our bad habits as writers can become downright destructive, and it’s a good idea to step back and take stock in them. I’ve seen a lot of benefit in my own writing practice from ending destructive habits. Here are a few I’ve battled with myself .

Only Writing When Inspired
I’ve written about this before: waiting for inspiration just leads to low productivity and self-deprecation. When we put off writing, our practice suffers. I can’t count the number of times I’ve sat in front of my computer screen, only to get up two minutes later because I just wasn’t “feeling it”. The best solution is to find a schedule and stick to it. Right now, I’m only managing to find time to write in 15-minute increments. It’s not a lot, but I’m writing several times each week, and it’s keeping my practice going.

Eating Sweets While Writing

chocolate cake
Photo by rore (Flikr). Used under the terms of the Creative Commons.

In high school, my favorite way to start a writing project was with a fat piece of chocolate, tea, and good music. The combination was very stimulating, and somehow got me thinking that I wrote better when I had a bit of sugar inside my tummy. Unfortunately, when I integrated a food item as a mainstay in my writing practice, I started gaining weight and suffering in other health-related areas. I don’t mean to say there’s anything wrong with a cookie when diving into a new chapter or a bag of peanut M&Ms to celebrate finishing your latest project. However, as when we add junk food to our writing habit, it hurts our bodies more than any stimulation me may possibly get from the jolt of sugar. To help me drop the habit of eating sweets while writing, I tried upping my tea intake to keep me less hungry. I also tried to write on a full stomach, choosing my times right after a meal or a healthy snack. In combination with a lot of willpower, I managed to kick the habit.

Drinking While Writing

beer trio
Photo by Lindsey G (Flikr). Used under the terms of the Creative Commons.

There’s a myth that the best writers in history were heavy drinkers: Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, Elizabeth Bishop, Marguerite Duras.  For me, I thought a drink while writing during my first NaNoWriMo would help me get words on paper. However, it was not long before I had a drinking habit that interfered with my writing production. To be clear, I’m not talking about a “drinking problem” in the addiction sense, and if you have a drinking issue, I HIGHLY recommend you seek professional help. This is not so much about physical dependence as about having a habit of consuming a product that left my wits dull and my body lethargic, when I really should have been at my best. To drop the habit, I stopped drinking at all during any writing projects. As with sweets, with a little willpower and the encouraging realization that my writing improved with the clarity of my mind, I managed to kick the habit. Now, I may have a small glass of something while writing for my blog, but I don’t feel I need it to get through a long writing process.

So, have you guys ever struggled with any bad writing habits? If so, do you still struggle, or have you found a solution to get over your habit?


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