Habits To Make, Habits To Break

My recent reading has been putting my recent writing to shame. This is completely understandable: I’m writing a first draft, and it’s a normal part of the process to “hate your work but power through” on a first draft. I’m not supposed to be crafting beautiful phrases or pulling creative descriptions out of thin air; I’m supposed to be working on the very basics of plot, character and point of view. Still, it’s hard to read in my genre and not somehow compare the finished book with my current WiP.

The good news is, I’m not simply getting frustrated with my writing or giving up on reading in my genre until I’m on a later draft; I’m learning from the experience. I’m using what I love about the books I’m reading to inform the future of the book I’m writing. One of the things I’m admiring lately is the use of metaphor and simile in literary fiction. I’m so impressed by an apt comparison or a group of artfully-arranged words that gets to the heart of a character or emotion. Metaphor and simile don’t come naturally to me, and I’d like to get better at it. 

I wish my commute was this pretty Photo credit: Death to Stock Photo
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I wish my commute was this pretty
Photo credit: Death to Stock Photo

So I’m creating a new habit for myself. Every day, I’m going to focus on one aspect of one character I’m working on for my WiP, and come up with three ways to describe it using metaphor or simile. Because I don’t have a lot of extra time in my writing schedule, I’m going to use one of my best thinking times: my daily commute. I’m in the car for nearly an hour every day, and I should put that time to use in my writing life (besides listening to Audible books). I can record my three descriptions on my phone, so I can keep it hands-free, and write them down later if they’re good. With a little bit of practice, I think I can strengthen this skill.

Have you ever put a habit in place to change an aspect of your writing life?

I’m also trying to break a habit, though it’s not related to writing. I sometimes find myself interrupting people. I hate it when people interrupt me, and I get embarrassed when I realize I’ve done it to someone else. I want to be attentive to the other person’s words and less selfish in conversation. I’m not sure how to break this habit, though, particularly because I don’t do it all the time. Should I pinch myself? Snap a rubber band on my wrist? Make myself apologize to the person right then?

Any suggestions to help me stop interrupting? 

2 Responses to “Habits To Make, Habits To Break”

  1. Kathy says:

    Funny that you should mention interrupting people. I find myself doing that, too, and usually because I’m excited about something I want to say that immediately connects with something they are saying, or I’m trying to finish their thought for them. (Shame on me!) I’ve tried to become more aware of this in myself, making an effort to listen to the other person’s entire thought attentively without putting in my two cents. Sometimes I don’t end up saying what I planned to say at all, but that’s OK. I’m working on patience this way, and on becoming a better listener. A work in progress, for sure.

    Speaking of writing habits, I’ve been trying different things this year to make writing easier–and yes, more of a habit. One of the most successful things has been to take a half hour first thing in the morning (but after coffee–some things can’t be rushed) just for writing. Not reading or researching, but actually writing something new or working on a second draft. If I’m not writing, I just sit. I’m embarrassed to say that sometimes that is downright uncomfortable. It does seem to be effective though, and there’s a great feeling of accomplishment in knowing that whatever happens the rest of the day, at least I’ve spent a little bit of time on one of my most important priorities.

    • Leanne Sowul says:

      Hi Kathy, I’m sorry I missed replying to this comment! I must have missed the notification from the website. I definitely agree that “first thing in the morning” is an absolute MUST. Whatever is most important in your day must come first. Even if I only have 5 minutes to open my projects and refresh my mind on where I am, that’s much more useful than waiting until I have more time. The writing mind craves freshness.

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