Bad habits can plague us in any aspect of life. They can affect our health, our relationships, and our finances. They can also affect our writing, sometimes significantly.
I have more than one bad habit that interferes with my writing. For example, I have a tendency to allow social media to distract me when I’m having trouble getting new words down on the page. Unsurprisingly, allowing myself to get distracted doesn’t make getting the words down any easier so sometimes I ban myself from the internet until I’ve met my word count goal for the day. While I haven’t lost that bad habit completely, I do at least deal with it better than I used to.
The bad habit that interferes with my writing the most, however, is my habit of comparing myself to other writers. I often find myself wondering why my words aren’t as beautiful as X’s words or why my stories aren’t as witty as Y’s stories. When I do that, I always end up feeling bad about my writing and myself. That tends to slow down my productivity and distracts me from my goals.
While I probably won’t ever completely lose that habit (although I’d like to), I am at least managing to reduce its negative impact, bit by bit. I know that I will never write like X or Y because I’m not X or Y. We all bring something different to the writing table, and that’s a good thing. After all, if we all wrote in exactly the same way, libraries and bookstores would be boring places to visit. I write the way I write because I’m me and you write the way you write because you’re you. That’s not only okay, it’s wonderful.
So these days whenever I find myself comparing my writing to that of others, I remind myself that it’s perfectly fine that I don’t write the same way as X, Y, or Z. That doesn’t always work 100 percent, but it does help me move forward and that’s what’s important.
Do you have any writing-related bad habits that you’d like to lose?