shutterstock_296745074If you have not already heard, there are numerous real-life benefits to developing a daily writing ritual. Whether it’s writing a journal, poetry, fiction, nonfiction, or anything else, writing is a unique form of self-expression that strengthens communication skills. Furthermore, the search for new thoughts and ways to express them has a meditative quality that serves to quiet the inner voice. However, though it may seem ironic, creating and maintaining a good writing habit can be challenging. For any writing style, following these small steps will provide you the tools necessary to fulfill your writing desire.

Begin a stream-of-consciousness journal. As the name suggests, a stream-of-consciousness journal simply consists of writing down thoughts as you have them. Start by setting aside 20 minutes daily (or every other day if a daily habit sounds daunting), during which you record your thoughts as they occur. Your entries may include things you need to remember, annoyances and grievances, fears, and anything else you might think of. As you become more comfortable with this process, you can increase your writing time and frequency. This exercise will build your writing stamina and remove any blockages from your flow of ideas.

Keep a record of random thoughts. Inevitably, your days are filled with situations, experiences, and encounters that call for comment. Record these random occurrences and your responses as they happen. Then, go back and reflect in-depth on your notes through free-writing. Allow curiosity to be your guide as you expand your writing and pose additional questions. At this point, much of what you are writing probably does not appear useful, but the purpose is to develop your own unique creative process. Through your stream-of-consciousness journal and record of random thoughts, potential writing topics or story ideas will emerge.

Reread, rewrite, and repeat. Now that you have built up some writing material, it is time to go back and reread some of the things you wrote. Highlight any ideas that you could expand on. Make note of the things you consistently comment on and write more about them. When you have honed in on a specific topic and format for your writing, rewrite it and repeat. Keep in mind that most of writing is in the rewriting, so don’t be surprised if your ideas drastically change throughout your drafts. Continue this editing process until you have a well-polished final product that identifies your main points in a satisfying way. If you feel comfortable, this would also be a good time to get feedback from others (especially if you are seeking to write on a professional level).

These steps are not only effective in developing a good writing habit — they will also improve your skills as a writer, while simultaneously sparking your creativity. The pages you write throughout this process are a safe place to experiment and play as you figure out how writing fits into your life. There is no doubting the many benefits of writing in all aspects of life, and these simple steps are the best place to develop a good writing habit.