Habits. Every author has them. Most of the country makes resolutions each New Year to get rid of their worst habits. Habits aren't necessarily bad, though. In fact, some of them can form the basis for a productive new chapter in your writing career. The key is to develop the right habits and turn them into a normal part of your day. Spend some time developing these good habits next year to ramp up the level on your writing life.
- Writing on schedule. Choose a time for writing and sit down then to work every day of the year. Make it five days a week or six, whatever works for you, but sit down on those days without fail. When your body knows it's time to write, the words will come more easily.
- Communicate with other authors. Writing is a lonely profession, and sometimes only other authors can understand problems that you're going to. Other authors can also find answers to those problems like no one else can. Find groups of your peers and spend time with them, either in real life or online.
- Continuing education. Writing is a craft that needs to be honed, and no one is born with a complete set of tools. Look up MOOCs, which are mostly free online classes, and find something to learn about your craft. Brush up on your grammar, take Photoshop classes to learn cover design, take a class in SEO or book marketing, learn to build a website. Learning stretches you and these topics will help your career.
- Take scheduled days off. You may be running hot with your latest book, but when the schedule says to take the day off, take the day off. Getting burnout leads to writer's block, which will set you back much more than the one day you're planning to take off.
- Start people watching. Learn to unashamedly eavesdrop on the people around you. Listen in on conversations in restaurants, in grocery store lines, or at the park. Use these snippets as fodder for your next novel. If you write nonfiction, go where your readers go and listen to their complaints and concerns. Find a common one and you've found your next title.
- Start outlining. Yes, there's a romance about "pantsing," writing by the seat of your pants. The problem with this method is that when you get stuck or the story goes off the rails, you have no way to get it back on track. If you've got a road map in hand, even a loose one, you'll have directions you can use to keep the story moving in the right direction.
- Keep your website updated. Oh, you don't have an author's website. Get one now! Your website is your business card you show to everyone on the internet. If you already have a site, spruce it up, update the links, add a blog and add a post to it every week this year. It doesn't have to be a long post, 350 words or so will do. Regular posting is the key.
- Create rituals for celebration. What do you do when you finish writing a book? What about when you publish it? If you just go on, business as usual, you're missing out on treating yourself for a job well done. Find a reward you respond to such as gourmet chocolates, a bottle of special wine, a massage, or a weekend away with your significant other. Just find something you never do at any other time.
- Get up for 5 minutes every hour you work. Sitting at a chair for hours on end is horrible for your health. You need to move to stay healthy. Set a timer to go off after 55 minutes. When you hear the timer, get up and walk around, dance to some music, walk up and down some stairs, or do something else to move your body for 5 minutes. Set a new timer and start all over again.
- Get dressed for work. You're right, one of the charms of being a full-time author is that you can choose whatever you want to wear while working. But while the whole work pajamas vs. sleeping pajamas habit is undoubtedly comfortable, your brain never gets a signal that it's time for work. Put on clothes, at least pants or a skirt and a shirt. Some people go so far as to wear shoes when writing, but that may be going a bit too far. As long as you're able to answer the door without shocking the mail carrier, you're going in the right direction.
Keep the Faith and May the Force be with You!