Five ideas to re-inflate your writing habit


Camp Nanowrimo is over and so, it seems, is my week-long writing ‘habit’.

I’m not saying I haven’t written anything since Camp Nanowrimo. I’ve written a poem for children. I’ve written in my journal.

But I haven’t stuck to the daily writing habit that allowed me to reach my Nanowrimo goals last year.

It’s like the diet you go on when you lose the desired weight and then reward your achievement by going straight back to your old way of eating. The weight goes back on even faster than it comes off.

You feel as though you’ve let yourself down. Anyone can make a change for a short time: it takes real discipline to change for the long term. You ask yourself, what’s wrong with me?

On the other hand, you can’t be rigid about the way you live. You can’t be always on task. You need time off to relax, veg out, recharge.

Except that every bit of time you have off makes it harder to get back to the habit you want to maintain. When you’re in deflated balloon mode, it takes more energy to blow it up and get it to fly again than if you kept it in the air in the first place.

Here are five ideas to help you re-inflate your balloon.

1. Write a blog post.

Don’t know what to write about? Write about not knowing what to write about (that’s how this post started out). Brainstorm a list of topics for your blog. Read any good books lately? Read any bad books lately? Tell your readers why you did or didn’t like them. Been to any events lately? Enjoyed them? Didn’t enjoy them? Tell us why. Or take Allison Tait’s advice in Episode 104 of So you want to be a writer? podcast and write about what you are thinking, what you are feeling, or something useful.

2. What is troubling you at the moment?

Don’t use it as an excuse not to write. Write about it in detail. Include the five senses: what you see, hear, smell, taste and touch. Write about the emotions you feel, how you behave. This can be cathartic. It can also show you how to create believable characters who might be experiencing similar difficulties and emotions.

3. Write something small.

What about a haiku or a story in say fifty or a hundred words…

For sale: baby shoes, never worn

… or six words like this story attributed to Ernest Hemingway. It might be that a novel is an unrealistic goal for you right now. A poem or short story can give you the sense of achievement you need, help you get some runs on the board.

4. Write something large.

You don’t need to wait for Camp Nanowrimo. Make this month or next month or halfway through the month your date to get stuck into your next project. What kind of book have you always wanted to write? What do you think the world needs to know about? What is the story only you can tell? Get a new note-book or open a new file on your computer. Start. Start with whatever comes into your head, let it rip and see where it takes you.

5. Write about what stops you from writing.

What are your personal writing excuses? Why are they effective? How can you turn them into reasons to write?

Time to share: How do you usually get your writing habit back in the air?

About the author

Sharon Hammad

Sharon is a writer living in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney.

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By Sharon Hammad