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“I can only write when I’m drinking coffee.”

(This is not true for me. But you’ve heard it before, right?)

“I need to write everything by hand. No technology allowed.”

(Also not the case. I can type at ninety words per minute, but when I’m handwriting, it drops to like, ten, I swear.)

“When I’m writing, I must listen to Russian violin music while sitting at a slight recline in an uncomfortable chair.”

Everyone has their own writing habits. Quirks that get them in the right mindset to start writing, plotting, or editing. The tricks that make you, as a writer, the most productive you can be.

But I’ve tried my best not to develop any writing habits.

Why? Why, Laura, would you avoid finding the patterns that make you most productive?

There’s nothing wrong with knowing your own writing style. If you only got a few hours of sleep the previous night and you want a cup of coffee to jumpstart your morning, go for it. If you get distracted by the internet when trying to type a first draft, maybe handwriting is the right route for you. If you really love Russian violin music, please, by all means, listen to it. But when these practices become not just habits but necessities, things get tricky.

Let’s say you’re stuck on a plane. You have a six hour flight ahead of you, with only your laptop to keep you company. There’s no paper to write on, no Starbucks to drink, no violin music on hand (though perhaps the chair would be suitably uncomfortable).

So what do you do? Do you: A) Shrug and promise yourself you’ll hit your writing quota when the plane lands? Or do you: B) Push past your habits and just start writing?

Answer: B) Push past your habits and just start writing.

This is why writing habits can be problematic. It’s all fine and dandy until your habits stop helping you and start working as an excuse for you not to write. I’m easily distracted enough as is. Personally, I really don’t need another thing getting in between me and my stories.

So write sitting down. Type standing up. Edit over dinner. Draft in a library. Do whatever you want, whatever gets you to write—but don’t get so addicted to any of your writing habits that you can’t convince yourself to get working, no matter where you are.