Do you dream of being able to write every day? Maybe a lack of time or motivation or inspiration is stopping you—or maybe it’s the simple act of remembering to write each day that’s preventing you from making writing into a habit. The following series of posts will look in detail at each of the barriers to daily writing and how to overcome them.
Time to stop dreaming about writing every day and time to start doing.
Part One: Set Reminders for Success
Sometimes it’s the simplest things that stop us achieving our goals—like remembering our goals in the first place. Making the commitment to write on a daily basis is one thing, but remembering to do so is slightly more difficult. Don’t find yourself waking up in the morning and realising you forgot to write the previous day. Integrate reminders, both visually and temporally, to ensure memory failure is never an excuse not to write.
Set Visual Reminders in Strategic Places
One way to make sure you don’t forget your daily writing session is to set visual prompts in prominent places. These prompts could be:
- Written notes reminding yourself of your goal
- Pictures that trigger memories of writing
- Items that you use for writing (e.g. a pen and notebook, your computer, index cards, etc.)
- Boards with your writing goals and number of successful days written on them
I’ve found the last prompt to be particularly effective, as it reminds me of my daily writing targets, how many days I’ve achieved my goals, and the streak I would break if I didn’t write that day. Written notes (e.g. ‘Shouldn’t you be writing?’) are also effective, though you need to take care to read them properly each day rather than just glancing over them. Visual cues that bring to mind writing can easily fade into the background after a while, so be mindful of this when choosing what to use.
Once you know what physical prompt, or combination of prompts, you’re going to use to trigger the memory to write, place them somewhere strategic for maximum effect. By your writing space is a good idea if it’s somewhere you go frequently when you’re not writing (e.g. the dining table, living room, bedroom). Otherwise, place your visual cues in places you usually visit each day, and make sure they’re highly visible. You don’t want to overlook them or not pass them one day and forget your writing session as a result.
Schedule Reminders at Specific Times
Physical reminders are one thing, but if you pass by them all the time then they may not trigger the memory at the right moment. Creating time-based reminders can prompt you just before your writing session, giving you no time to forget. You could schedule reminders using:
- Alarms on phones, radios, clocks, etc.
- Alerts/written reminders delivered at certain times through email, apps, text messages, etc.
- Planners/timetables, with your writing sessions pencilled in
- Family and friends (if all else fails, they may be able to remind you themselves)
Make your time-based prompts even more effective through scheduling them at the same time every day. If you receive your reminder and write at 8 p.m. every night, then, over time, it will become a habit. By that point, you may not even need an alarm or alert to remind you to write; it’ll have become second-nature to leave aside that time for writing.
Combine Visual and Temporal Prompts for Writing Success
One way to ensure there’s no way to forget your writing session is through combining visual and time-based reminders of your commitment. Here are three examples of how this could be done:
You write first thing on a morning? Put a visual prompt near your bed, visible when you first wake up.
You write during your lunch break? Put a pen and notebook on your desk or carry them in your bag or in your pocket.
You write before going to bed? As with morning sessions, set a visual prompt near your bed to trigger your memory before you go to sleep.
Part One Recap
Two things are important in reminding yourself to write each day: visual and temporal cues. You can use each separately, but for maximum effect, try combining the two to make your writing sessions second-nature. Before you know it, writing regularly will be a habit.
Stay tuned for Part Two in the How to Make Writing a Habit series: Integrate Writing into Your Daily Routine.
Over to you: What kind of reminders do you use for writing?