10 Unhealthy Writing Habits

Last week I put up a post "Top Habits for Healthy Writers." This week I thought I'd take it to the other side of the spectrum and discuss what I believe are unhealthy habits for writers.
Photo by Jan Kah├ínek on Unsplash

These are some typically 'unhealthy' writing habits. Some are not so big of a deal, others are killers. These are also more concerned with the actual writer than literary style on the page. (I will be doing a post about writing pet peeves that will deal with that). There are countless more bad habits, but here I have listed ten:

1. RELYING ON SPELLCHECK. Spellcheck is one of our amazing modern conveniences. But relying on it too heavily will take that spelling role away from your brain (especially since we know that spellcheck is not always perfectly accurate...)

2. Telling yourself you're NOT GOOD ENOUGH. I can't say how many times this has been stressed. But no matter how many times we see these words, us writers do it anyway. I have never met a writer who writes with absolute confidence, and I think part of our self-doubt will never go away--no matter how honed our skills are or how good our writing may actually be. Self-doubt is just an unfortunate tag-along to any art or occupation, but inseparable though it may be, we can't succumb to it. Don't let your doubts tell you how capable you are. 

3. PROCRASTINATION. Ugh! Ok, this one is hard. Especially because I'm a MAJOR procrastinator myself. Despite however many times we wake up in the morning and tell ourselves "OK, I'm gonna do it! Today I'm going to write!" somehow, we ALWAYS end up pushing it to the side, telling ourselves we'll "do it later" or that we "don't have the inspiration just now", and the writing doesn't get done. Just don't do it, kids. Procrastination is bad.

4. Waiting for INSPIRATION TO STRIKE. This goes hand-in-hand with #3. Inspiration is not a constant stream, or a tap that can be turned on and off when we want. It's sporadic. And when we're inspired, it's the most excellent thing in the world! But for the most part, we aren't. However, we started the story, and our characters shouldn't be left dangling. We don't leave our poor characters hanging at the edge of the cliff and when they call for help say "Nah. I'll help you get back up when I'm inspired." Things flop that way. Ok, that was a strangely particular metaphor, but you get the point, yeah? Needless to say, I am guilty of this literary sin myself. Someone suggested to me that a good way to avoid this is to lean more on brainstorming than inspiration--sometimes a good brainstorming session even brings on a bit of inspiration! (I will link her blog at the bottom of the page. Go check her out!)

5. No TIME MANAGEMENT. Without time management, lots of things fall to the wayside and we end up with 'no time to write.' Now there ARE those instances where we are genuinely busy and have no time to do what we love. However, there are more instances than not where our time is managed poorly and by the end of the day, several opportunities have gone by that we missed. I myself am extremely guilty of this. That's why my novel, Beginnings, is only a third of the way through after three-and-a-half years (Hehehehe...). Look for the little spaces in your day where you find yourself zoning out, watching a YouTube video you aren't getting any enjoyment out of, or are looking for something to do. However few and far between, they are there, and if they are sought out they can be put to good use.

6. RESTRAINING YOURSELF. Lots and LOTS of new writers are afraid to write bold. Lots of more experienced writers too, actually. We're afraid to be bold, or new, or even authentic for fear of not being accepted, or having it turned away or perhaps debunked as being "stupid". It's a subconscious restriction, a subconscious fear, and so often it holds us back from being the author we could be and expressing ourselves through our art. (I may even do an entire blog post about this sometime down the road...If anyone is interested). My advice? Be bold! Don't hold yourself back when you could be soaring! No great author ever moved far by being afraid. 

7. PLAGIARISM. It's a one-word crime, guys. This one is hard, because there is a thin line between an admiration/inspirational imitation and blatant plagiarism. There are countless authors that I admire very much and am, in many ways, very much inspired by them. But we need to make sure we don't take away from people. We want to be original--we also don't want  to have to pay a $2,000+ copyright fine. Make sure you're not stealing from another's genius, especially without giving them any credit. 

8. Jinxing yourself BEFORE YOU BEGIN. Very often, I am prey to this habit myself. I will start something off and while it is still in its moments of birth, tell myself "This won't end up going anywhere. It'll just be another flop." This very statement can be the cause of that supposed flop that may now become a reality. This mindset is dooming your work to failure before it's begun. And although we can sometimes spot when something won't turn out a success, it's better not to shut yourself down--that can kill your vibe. -Instead- Tell yourself "Well, at least I can write this for my own enjoyment!" or "this might help boost my literary growth". 

9. Not TRUSTING YOURSELF. There is a small voice on the inside of every writer--the little guy that prompted you to write in the first place, the little guy that said 'hey! That's a good idea!' Very often we force it to surrender to our doubts or to the criticism of others. Sure, sound criticism is necessary for literary growth, but us writers should never abandon our inner voice. We need to trust ourselves, and have a little faith in our art. This is how we really put ourselves into our writing. If we push it out with all the re-edits based on outside doubts, our writing becomes vague, impersonal and strange. trust yourself with your story--you are, in fact, it's creator. 

10. Not keeping track of YOUR INSPIRATIONS. As a writer, and I'm sure hundreds of other writers encounter this all the time, I get probably 10+ ideas/inspirations daily! Some of my regrets are not jotting down the good ones. Inspiration is sporadic and insecure. When it comes, take advantage of it! Even if that means pausing washing the dishes for a moment or so to scribble it down. Keep track of your inspirations. That way, you'll have an endless library of resources to fall back on when you find yourself without inspiration on another day. 

Here is the blog I mentioned in #4: Apprentice Wordsmith . (Also a writing blog). She's excellent, go check her out! 


*And FINALLY, a small Update* 

Here's a look at what's upcoming: 

-Top Pet Peeves In Writing
-Poetry: The Perks
-10 Fears that Keep You from Writing Your Best
-Writing Romance 
-10 Reasons Cruella de Vil is Such a Fabulous Villain


Let's Chat!
1. What do you think are some unhealthy writing habits? 
2. What sort of pet peeves do you have about writing? 
3. What do you think improves your growth as a writer?

Comments

  1. I agree completely with the procrastination and the lack of time management skills. I have problems with those two the most.
    Editing. Editing is my worst pet peeve in the entire universe of writing(but it has to be done).
    Reading and helping others write. If I learn about the different ways of writing, it helps expand my knowledge and create my own style of writing. Also, just continuing to write helps my growth. Comparing my first story to my recent project, there is a major difference in experience and maturity.

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    1. Yeah, I hate editing my own writing, but for some reason, I love editing other peoples' writing. And I definitely agree! I think I may do a post sometime in the future about literary growth. :) Thanks for the feedback!!

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  2. Thank you so much for mentioning me! I'm so honored :)
    My top unhealthy writing habits are procrastination(obviously) and getting distracted mid writing session. I'll usually tell myself its important for the novel to know some obscure fact (like how many people fit in a football stadium) which leads me to fall down the rabbit hole of the internet.
    My top pet peeve is re-reading my first draft. This makes me dread editing even though I often find the process calming. I find it hard to read the sloppy, messy thing that I just brought into the world. But alas! It must be done.
    Reading other (especially new) writers' works. They often show me how to describe things and how to make my characters original and memorable.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, of course! Yeah, I'm a big procrastinator myself, so I totally get it!
      And yes, I agree. Sometimes re-reading your first draft can be the most cringe-worthy process ever. xD

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