Breaking Bad (Habits)

A reminder: This post courtesy of Julie Jarnagin’s 101 Blog Post Ideas for Writers.

53. Breaking bad writing habits

Breaking any bad habit is a trial and a half. They say it takes doing something every day for 60 straight days to make it a habit, so inversely it takes 60 straight days of not doing something to stop it from being a habit.

Writing habits are a little different because they might not necessarily be something that you can address on a daily basis. For example, say your bad habit is that you tend to make all your female characters overly girl. You can’t really work on that on a daily basis because you might have days, weeks, or even months during which you don’t write any scenes that involve female characters.

I think the key to breaking a bad writing habit is to first admit that it is a bad habit, and then make a dedicated effort to acknowledge when you do them and immediately rectify it. For example, I’ve been told by a number of members on Critique Circle that I use too many adjectives in my writing. It took a while to train myself to recognize it, but I began stopping myself every time I felt the need to use an adjective somewhere that was not entirely necessary. I reassess my sentences as I’m writing them and rearrange words in order to avoid superfluous adjectives that gum up my writing. It’s a process for sure, but I believe that it is making my writing better, so it’s worth it. And that’s the real trick: in order to break a bad writing habit, you have to want to break a bad writing habit.

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