How to Develop Better Writing Habits

writing habits

Develop better writing habits.

There’s only one way to become a better writer, and that is through lots of practice.

Some people are born with talent. Writing comes easily to them, but even the most talented writers have to work at the craft. After all, nobody’s born knowing how to write.

Fostering good writing habits accomplishes two things. First, good writing habits ensure that you write regularly, and as we all know, the only way to become a writer is to actually get the writing done. Second, by writing regularly, you get plenty of writing practice, and your work improves.

In other words, good writing habits are essential.

Adopt These Essential Writing Habits

Below you’ll find a list of essential writing habits that will benefit your writing skills. Try introducing one habit into your routine each month. By the end of the year, you’ll be well on your way to becoming an expert in all things writing.

  • Establish a writing schedule and write daily if possible: Whether you write for three hours a day or fifteen minutes a day, daily writing is the most critical of writing habits. It’s better to write for fifteen or twenty minutes every day than to binge for five or six hours over the weekend, but if you can establish a daily writing schedule with longer sessions on weekends, then all the better!
  • Don’t forget to read: I can’t stress how obvious it is when a writer is not well-read. Lack of reading will be apparent in every sentence. The importance of reading cannot be overstated: read as much and as often as you can.
  • Finish what you start: One of the worst habits a writer can acquire is to never finish anything. Shiny new ideas are always tempting us away from our current projects. Don’t give in to temptation! Unless a project is absolutely going nowhere, wrap it up before you move on to the next one. Otherwise, you’ll end up in a vicious cycle and have nothing to show for all the writing you’ve done.
  • Show your work: Speaking of finishing what you start — once it’s done, share it with others. Post a scene on your blog, send a poem around to a few friends, round up some beta readers and let them assess your project and help you improve it. And if you’d like to be a professional author, always keep your eye on the goal: publishing your work to the marketplace.
  • Know your craft and industry: As a writer, it’s important to understand things like grammar, spelling, and punctuation as well as the importance of editing and polishing your work before you show it around. It’s just as important to familiarize yourself with the industry — from publishing to marketing. Make it your business to understand the craft and trade by working good habits into your schedule: edit everything you write, consult grammar and style guides when necessary, learn to properly format your documents, study the publishing industry, and make sure you understand the many ways that authors can market their work to a reading audience.

What Are Your Writing Habits?

Improving your writing is hard work. Maintaining a regular writing schedule is even harder, especially with so many distractions that are vying for our attention. Adopting these writing habits might mean making major changes to your routine. If you love to write, the work will be fun at times. Other times, you’re just going to have to grin and bear it, knowing full well that the ends make the means completely worthwhile.

If you want to be the best writer you can possibly be and produce great writing, then commit yourself to these writing habits.

How many of these writing habits do you practice regularly? Do you think your writing habits are good or bad? A mix? Share your thoughts, ideas, and experiences by leaving a comment.

10 Core Practices for Better Writing

About Melissa Donovan
Melissa Donovan is a website designer and copywriter. She writes fiction and poetry and is the founder and editor of Writing Forward, a blog packed with creative writing tips and ideas.


50 Responses to “How to Develop Better Writing Habits”

  1. Helen says:

    Great post, lots of good advice. I think rewriting helps one learn a lot about the craft of writing. I took a year to finish my first novel and another eight months working on the rewrites. It was those rewrites that taught me so much about good writing. When you write something, leave it for a couple of days, then come back to it with fresh eyes.

  2. JoAnn says:

    I recently started a blog, hoping it would help me to write more often. While I’m still not sure I’ve got anything new or special to say, I’m enjoying the process of putting my thoughts to the page. Even if I never write a book or short story, I intend to learn everything I can and make my blog the best it can be. Thanks for your generous sharing of information.

    • Congratulations on starting your blog! If you can commit to it, then you will definitely write more often and learn a lot about writing. In fact, I’ve learned more in about writing (and written more) in my three years of blogging than in all other years combined! Good luck to you :)

  3. cmdweb says:

    One of the most valuable tips I give people, that really works for me, is to understand when you’re best time of the day is for writing and go with it. For me, I write with much more fluidity in the mid to late afternoon. I’m not sure why, that’s just the way it is for me. Possibly because in the mornings I’m too caffeine-starved and in the evenings I’m bust after a day’s work.
    As a result, I get all my admin, e-mails, meetings and such like out of the way by about 2pm if I can and get on with whatever reports or plans I have to write after that.
    Works for me.

    • My best writing time is late at night. Sometimes I write (in my mind) while I’m trying to fall asleep, which is frustrating because often I’m too tired at that point to take notes. On the other hand, usually by then all my admin and tasks are completed so I’m free to sleep or write as I see fit 😉 Writing is a regular part of my daily routine because of this blog and my copywriting business, but making time for creative writing (fiction and poetry) is a real challenge. I agree that setting up a routine around your best writing time is ideal.

  4. Lori Meyer says:

    Thanks so much for these great tips…all good reminders of how to find ideas and polish your writing. Something I’ve found helpful: Keep something to write with handy at all times, because you never know when a good idea will make itself known. I keep small writing pads in my purse and in my car so if I suddenly get an inspiration for an article, a story title, an inspiring phrase, or an idea for improving something I’ve written, I can get it down on paper before I forget it.

    • Ah yes, we’ve covered this tip in a few other posts. Writers should absolutely keep a notebook or recording device handy at all times. The best writing ideas tend to come along when we’re anywhere but at our desks!

  5. MandyB says:

    There are a multitude of skill sets required for writing and I am trying to learn them. As you say it is difficult to find the time to squeeze everything in but I do try to write every day – even if it is a short piece for my blog, a writing prompt or a poem.
    Doing it (writing) is certainly the best way to improve.

  6. hot dog carts says:

    huge thing a writer can do to develop her skills is to accept that the best finished pieces almost without exception come from a multi-step process and not from just pulling words out of thin air or from some pure “inspiration.”

  7. Adam says:

    Writing is the best skill to learn in this modern world. Unfortunately, I lack this important skill myself, I will try my level best to follow you tips. Thank you.

  8. Andy L. says:

    I’m currently a college student studying business, and I have recently developed an eager desire to improve my writing skills. I’ve been following the tips posted on this page for the past month, with a focus on reading. I have some questions regarding the process of improvement. From personal experience, does it happen gradually? or does it happen in intervals?(e.g. breakthroughs)
    I would love to hear some personal experiences from others.

    • Hi Andy, It’s wonderful that you’re working to strengthen and improve your writing skills. I believe that development happens differently for everyone. You might experience gradual improvement or you might go through a series of breakthroughs. Most likely, you will experience a combination of both (that was my experience).

      I wish you the best of luck in business and in writing!

  9. Ramanujam says:

    Thanks Melissa for the suggestion which u have mentioned in the above post I am an engineering student doing my degree in computer Science . Apart from my computer activity i have deep desire for writing i mean i want to improve my writing skills . I want to learn the skills and crafts of writing but due to lots of weakness in me i am not able to write or express my views . But your post helped me a lot to garner my knowledge over good writing skills . Even this is my first writing experience in which i am writing or leaving a comment to any post in my four years of internet surfing and thanks for all the peoples which have replied to this post coz they helped me a lot in my writing skills and also helped me a lot to get an idea over good writing …… Thanks …:D

    • Your dedication to improving your skills is admirable. Great writing takes a lot of practice, but it’s achievable when you’re dedicated to learning the craft and fostering good writing habits. I wish you the best of luck!

  10. Thuly says:

    Thank you very everyone for your tips especially Melisa. I myself have just been made aware of my writing skills which I never realised by one friend of mine and I appreciate him for that.I am a b-tech graduate in project management and currently looking for a job. Personally I am not an articulate speaker but. I could narrate all of my feelings and thoughts on paper. I always thought I am artistic just do not have required confidence and maybe courage to persue whatever it is that I am worth or deserve because of my personal background but I passed that now I seeked help and I think I am ready to persue my career as well as writing part-time.

    Thanx guys…

  11. Revathy Natarajan says:

    It was very useful. I have started reading books to improve my writing skills:) hope very soon will shine well through my writing skills.

  12. Whitley says:

    I love to write and create my own little works of fiction. I have three little brothers that I enjoy writing short stories for. Usually I jot down ideas when they randomly appear and they turn out to be wonderful stories. Sadly, I also have a difficult time processing how I’m going to take the image in my head and put it on my paper. Any advice for this?

    • The only advice I have is to practice. You have to sit down and start the process, get the story onto the page. At first, the text may be jumbled. You’ll have to rewrite and revise to clean it up. It’s hard work but it’s immensely rewarding.

  13. Thomas says:

    This writing tips are just awesome. Thanks for the tips Melissa, I’m gonna start using them.

  14. Kam says:

    I think that it’s very hard for me to write because I have so many good ideas that I want to put on the page that I can’t choose. Sometimes I mesh them together and my story turns out well………………… not organized. I have a tough time spinning out the beginning of my stories but when I got it, I don’t stop until I’m so tired I can barely keep my eyes open:). I have a bunch of stories lying around but I can’t seem to finish one so that’s my tip if you have many good ideas make a note page on each one so you won’t forget and add to it when an idea comes to you for it. Don’t forget to keep your mind on that ONE book, story, or poem you writing though!!!!! :)

    • Thus the saying “writing is rewriting.” It’s great that you’re capturing your ideas in messy rough drafts. For lots of writers, the hard part is to go through those drafts and clean them up, revising them into polished final drafts.

  15. alex T says:

    Hello Melisa, I will definitely utilize your tips to improve my writing. I am listing few of the problems why my writing is not that good. Hopefully, you can give me some additional tips to improve my writing. English is not my native language. I don’t read much nor write much, and I don’t associate with people that English is their native language. By the way, i love to read and write. I just don’t do it as much. the reason why i am posting this is because i did not get a promotion. i was told that my writing was just average.

    • Hi Alex, most of the tips I would give you are in this post. It will be impossible to improve your writing if you don’t read and write, and if you love to read and write, you should do it more. There are tons of ESL (English as a Second Language) resources on the web to help you with translations and memorizing vocabulary. Good luck to you!

  16. Emmanuel Eze says:

    Thank you very much for the encouraging,helpful post. Being a potential writer,and seeking for guidance on polishing my thought, I have come to appreciate the contents of this post. I have really benefited a lot from it. Thanks once more.

  17. Ruchi Gupta says:

    Although I have always wanted to make writing a habit to become comfortable in it and develop as an art, I had somehow left writing last on my daily-to-do-list. Having read you enlightening piece I hope to improve my writing skills now.

    • Why is it so easy for us to push our passions to the bottom of the list? Lots of writers leave writing for last. As we all know, we often don’t ever get to the last item on our to-do list! I say move writing up and make it a higher priority or set a strict time for it every day! Good luck to you Ruchi.

  18. Ron says:

    Hi Mellssa,
    I came across you site while searching for ideas and tips to assist my 8 year old in the writing process and maybe find concrete instruction and steps for learning to become a good writer. By the way, he loves to write. I would appreciate any help and guidance. Thanks!!!

    • Hi Ron, I would suggest you consult with the school or your son’s teacher if he needs help with his writing. You may also find helpful resources at the local library (consult with the librarian in the children’s section). Beyond that, the best thing he can do to help his writing along is read as much as possible.

  19. Arjun says:

    Dear Melissa,

    I have started blogging as a new year resolution for this year.To be frank it took me 2 months to even consider writing down anything on my wall.I am so happy to come across your post as i was looking forward to a step by step process to start an article.In fact i am going to make it a point to pen down my thoughts everyday before hitting the bed.

  20. Ritesh says:

    Lovely post melissa, was just googling about how to write effectively and your address popped up first. Being an research analyst i need to able to express my thoughts and views on a particular stock or any research thoroughly, which i think i lack in. But after reading this post i feel i need to do alot of homework in terms of writing. The first point of reading itself is the best point i feel, more you read more you learn and then put that in to practice. anyways once again i would like to thank you for the post. i have already bookmarked this webpage for my reference. all the best for your life. tc

  21. Ty Unglebower says:

    Reading, naturally, is crucial. I work at home, and I recently redesigned my daily routine to do more reading at the start of my day as opposed to at the end of it, as I used to.

    Before the change I did my best to write first thing. But I find reading first instead gets my mind in gear better for any writing I do later in the day. I think it’s easier for me to ease into reading most things than it is to ease into writing them.

    • That’s interesting, Ty. I think most people read at the end of the day and I know a lot of writers try to get their writing done first thing in the morning. I’ve never heard of anyone reading at the start of the day but it sounds like a good idea to me :)

  22. Vicki M Taylor says:

    Excellent advice, my friend. I truly believe that there must be practice, practice, practice, in the life of a writer. No matter what the subject matter, use writing as your venue. And, practice with your hand and a pen as well, don’t ever give up the many ways of writing.

  23. Aletha Ruffin says:

    I am beginning to explore who I am as a writer. I have been devouring books since I learned how to read! Reading takes place mostly in the evening. I am now beginning to share information about my reading on my blog. Writing and journaling typically happen in the morning. I am determined to become more routine about this process though (even though I abhor routines)! Thank you for sharing!

  24. Anita Diggs says:

    Wonderful article, Melissa! Knowing your craft and industry is a big one, and will be extremely helpful in the long run. I find a couple good writing habits are to just use your own voice, be unique, don’t worry about sales or publicity, and use an outline because it helps you to create a step sheet of where exactly your book is going.

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