3 Tips for Consistent Writing

How to journal consistently like a pro

Happy Sunday and thanks so much again for being a part of #TheLifeOfJLOWE. If you haven’t joined our community yet be sure to subscribe now!

One of the most frequent questions I get asked about the #TheLifeOfJLOWE newsletter is “When do you find the time to write??” Between working a full-time job, gyming, running and having a social life, I can understand how it might seem a bit tedious or even “impressive” (as some of you have told me) that I continue to publish once a week. 

And the truth is, it is a bit tedious. 

But as I spoke a bit about in last week’s newsletter, writing is a creative act for me, and is a method by which I get the opportunity to share a bit of me with the world, so it’s less of a task and more of something that I get to look forward to every week.

Another question in the same vein that I always get is “What is your writing process?” When I get asked that question, it makes me realize that my process is pretty intuitive, and the hardest part about writing is really just getting started.

Today, I wanted to share my tips to being consistent with writing - journaling in particular - so that if any of you reading today are interested in what my writing process each week looks like, you can have an idea. Also, feel free to leave a follow-up question in the comments if you have any - I reply! ☺️

JLOWE’s 3 Tips for Consistent Writing

1. Create a space for you to write, routines work

Undoubtedly, one of the most important things about writing for me is creating an atmosphere for myself where my thoughts can flow and become sentences. The biggest part of that for me is music. As I’m writing this now, I’m listening to Little Blue (feat. Brandi Carlile).

But every time I sit down to write, I listen to a playlist called Soul Coffee, which is a mix of R&B, soul and overall mellow vibes music. This was a habit that I built unconsciously, but every time I sat down to write I’d hit shuffle on that playlist, and it always created a very peaceful atmosphere, and before I knew it, I was playing that playlist at least once a week - every time I sat down to write my newsletter.

Finding your writing process

My writing process is simple: I sit at my desk, plug my laptop into a small set of studio speakers, and hit play on Soul Coffee. Nowadays, it feels like my brain responds to that routine like a behavioural trigger, because really begin to think clearly and get into a writing mode once I get that playlist on. 

So my advice to you here is to find your routine and stick to it. Whether it’s picking the time, place, music, atmosphere or even the word processing software, to build the habit of writing, I definitely recommend to first build the habit of being in a curated “space” (however you define that ‘space’) that you can consistently return to to write. It’s amazing how our brains work to allow us to create given the right conditions.

2. Take breaks if you need to!

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was your best writing. (I mean, technically, you could finish your journal entry in a day, but it doesn’t have to all be in one go.)

As I’ve previously discussed, writing is a form of creative expression. Whether you’re writing in a journal, a weekly newsletter, an essay for school or a report for work, once you’re putting words onto paper, it’s a form of self-expression, even if you don’t realize it. 

Everyone has their own diction, word phrasing, perspectives and ways of expressing different things. I guess those teachers were onto something when they told us to do those book reports “in your own words”. 

Writing = Creating

Because writing is creating, you can get burnt out in the process of doing it. You can be doing your daily journal entry and feel tired of writing. I can be writing my weekly newsletter and get bored of typing. It happens.

So when it happens, let it happen.

Pause the music, get up, take a walk, go watch some Avatar the Last Airbender on Netflix and come back to writing whenever you feel like it. Give yourself the grace to be a ‘creator’ as you’re writing, and recognize that taking a break from something as simple as writing in your journal is okay. 

The 1% Rule

A rule I live by is that if you work on 1% of something every day, your results will compound over time. I use that rule when writing this newsletter throughout the week. 

Sometimes on Monday, I’ll write down a general topic that crossed my mind in my Notes app. Then on Tuesday, I’ll glance at it, give a few minutes of thought, and maybe not even write anything. Wednesday I’ll revisit it and maybe add 3 topics or pointers that I could talk about, and then Thursday to Saturday I’ll start building paragraphs and formatting. 

This newsletter is never a monolith of work, it’s always something that I give thought to throughout a matter of days. That doesn’t even necessarily mean writing, but even just thinking about what I want to write is productive for me as well.

“One one cocoa full basket” as we would say in Jamaica. 🇯🇲

3. Paragraphs first, titles later - organising your thoughts is overrated

Growing up, I always learnt to use the “sandwich method” when writing essays in school. This idea of introduction —> three body paragraphs —> conclusion was ingrained into me as the golden standard for writing. Teachers would tell us to organize our main points before we write to have an outline of what we’re gonna write in the essay.

“In this essay, I will discuss… ☝🏼”

Organizing your points like that is a great methodology for academic writing, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve come to learn that creative writing is much different. 

Journaling, writing a newsletter, writing a novel - the form isn’t preset. You might see influences of that sandwich method in my writing, but for me, the important part about writing is communicating a particular message and oftentimes the story is built around that. 

Most of the time, that means writing in a haphazard way, and then organizing it later. I’ll have an idea randomly in a car ride or on the train, write it down, then think about what I can build around that. Or, I’ll have a great “hook” intro-line, and write it down, then build a story out of that. 

I don’t ever start with a title. 

Sometimes titling these newsletters is the hardest part because it forces me to think about what the central message is, then try to put it in a semi-clickbait-not-cringe-attention-grabbing way so that non-subscribers will want to read, or so that you want to open the email when you get it in your inbox. 

My point here is simple. Write as the thoughts flow, and organize it later. Get the words out when they want to get out, whether it’s 10 words or 1000. Little by little, what you’re writing will come together in its own way. Allow yourself to create at your own pace. 

Conclusion

Writing is creating. Creating is a process. Enjoy the process, give yourself the space and the grace to feel like a creator as you write. Being consistent requires you to build a habit, and the habit doesn’t just start with typing the first word. It’s about creating the atmosphere for a flow state, not being frustrated with yourself when you hit a block, and worrying about organization later. 

Write more, have fun with it, be consistent with these 3 tips and most importantly - subscribe for more #TheLifeOfJLOWE content!

We’re almost at 300 subscribers thanks to YOU! 

Until next Sunday,
Justin

Join the conversation

or to participate.