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  • sarahjdodd

The writing habit

Habits can be hard to break, can't they? Today I took a trip to the dentist (good habit!) and I learned that the headache, toothache and earache I often get could be down to one simple habit. This:

That's right. Whenever I'm thinking about something, I rest my chin on my hand. I've done it ever since I was at school, and that's quite a lot of years. But now it is affecting my jaw and must STOP! So if you ever see me doing it, feel free to remind me.

An easier thing than breaking an old habit (something we do without really thinking about it) is to form a new habit. And for writers, what could be more important than a writing habit? We write because we love it, so why is it sometimes so difficult to get down to actually doing it? (For example, writing this blog instead of getting on with my next novel...) Maybe it's because the ideas in our heads are amazing, wonderful and full of endless possibilities. But as soon as we try to put them into actual words, they become much more tricky to handle.

If you'd like to be a writer, but don't know where to start, why not make a new habit of carrying a notebook everywhere you go? Here are a few of my recent ones:

You can jot down all kinds of things in your notebook. A book title, a snippet of a conversation overheard, a joke, a line of a poem, the first (or last) line of a story, something interesting that you've noticed while you're out and about, that silly thing your dad said at the tea table that made you laugh, peculiar words, thoughts, a journal of your day. Anything you want! And it doesn't have to be just words. Why not add some drawings as well?

Here's a page of my notebook when I was coming up with the first draft of Beyond the Setting Sun. It's not the same as the final version, but I needed to write and cross out and try out different rhymes.

Write what you want to write. It's not for anyone else's eyes. It can be short or long, serious or funny, in fancy handwriting or a scribbly mess. But whenever you want an idea, you can come back to your notebook and there will be lots of treasure stored up, ready to use.

Because as long as you are writing something, you already are a writer.

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