Secrets of a Writing Habit, Pt. 3: Set a (Read-Through) Date

Ah… good, old-fashioned fear. Nothing motivates quite like the urge to avoid artistic humiliation!

So you want to build a writing habit. Good for you! This is the third in a three-part series sharing the only things I know about building habits that stick around for longer than just a few minutes. Enjoy!


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The mot frightening time during my freshman year of college was Repertoire, or Rep Class, as we called it. It happened once a month and all the violists in our studio (there were 11 of us) would play a sample of what we were working on for the entire class to hear. We’d receive written critique on our performances, and “re-do” the ones we really bombed in the next Rep Class 4 weeks later.

I was always a shy performer (it was difficult for me to practice when other people were home or awake when I was a kid) and once-a-month Rep Class never lost that touch of absolute terror.

But the terror made me work. I never out-practiced the fear, but I never severely embarrassed myself during performances either, so overall, I’d call that a win.

You can take this lesson (minus the performance anxiety!) and apply it to your writing, too. Here’s what it looks like.

This Is Not a Writing Group

Writing groups are great, and are a must for every writer at some point in his or her career. But what you want to do to build your writing habit is, now that you’ve built your guilt-free habit and laced it with a little bit of fun, make sure it sticks.

Do you have a writing blog? Great! Announce to your readers that you’re going to hold a read-and-critique session on a particular date, and give them the URL in advance so you can’t weasel out.

If you don’t have a writing blog, but you’re writing things that would be appropriate for a blog, consider pitching a guest post (but make sure you read the rules and the blog before you begin). If the webmaster accepts your pitch, respond to their acceptance email with the date that you’ll send over the draft.

Not a blog writer? Ask a friend over for coffee and tell her that you’ve got a short writing piece you’ve been working on, and could she take a look at it? And by the way, it’s only in print form, so you’ll give her a copy when she visits.

See? That’s the fear settling in already.

Once You’ve Gotten a Critique

I do admit that after Rep Class, I got bored of practicing for an indeterminate period of time. When you’ve hit your deadline, handed over your work and hopefully received some kind of reaction, you’ll be tempted to slack off, and that’s okay. Just remember, when you’re recharged and ready to keep going, repeat steps 1 and 2!

You might also like Secrets of a Writing Habit, Pt. 1: How to Avoid Habit Guilt at All Costs and Pt. 2: Stick Some Fun on It.

Was this series helpful? Let me know in the comments!