Jump to content

Recommended Posts

How did you start off the New Year? Did you commit yourself to getting off on the right foot with a healthy, productive regimen of physical and mental activity? Or did you sleep in, savoring the holiday weekend? A little of both, maybe? Chances are, at some point on the first day of the year, you did one of two things: followed an existing habit or tried to build a new one.

We humans are creatures of habit. This isn’t a bad thing, or a good one; it just is. Habits keep us from having to invent ourselves from scratch every single day. Habit makes our days flow. Habit keeps things running.

2022 was a year of major change for me. I moved a family of four twice, once to temporary quarters while we renovated and sold a house, then to the new house we’d bought several states away. Somewhere along the way, I got out of the habit of writing. It’s understandable, of course–I had other priorities, all of which were more immediately pressing than putting another thousand words on the page–but understanding didn’t make me at peace with it, and I’d been feeling vaguely guilty. I’d think Oh, I should write, and then I just… didn’t.

Because once I was out of the habit, it was oh so hard to get back in. Having let other things take precedence, I’d not only gotten out of the writing habit–I’d replaced it with other habits, some important and productive, some less so. So it wasn’t just a question of saying “Oh, other things are less urgent now, so I can get back to writing!” I had to decide that the writing habit was important, that certain other things could take a backseat, and that rebuilding the writing habit was more complex than just finding or making time to sit down to write again.

I was tough on myself during that transitional period. Because I kept sitting down to write, and shuffling my outline around, so I was spending time at my computer, but the writing still wasn’t coming. Why can’t I just do this? I asked myself. I used to just sit down, and even if I wasn’t feeling particularly motivated, I could make words. Why can’t I do it now?

Then the answer finally occurred to me. Because I used to be in the habit.

I’ve never been one of those “You have to write every day!” writers, but the truth is that historically, when I’ve been in a deadline crunch, daily writing got me through. Maybe I was putting down 500 words or 2000, maybe 15 minutes or two hours, editing one page or ten chapters, but I was writing. Because again, say it with me: I was in the habit. My brain knew, when I sat down at my computer, that I didn’t have time to mess around. Either the words flowed or I forced them out, but either way, there were words.

What got me back into productive writing? How did I get over the hump? You often hear that it takes 21 days to build a new habit, though of course there’s no set duration. I fell back on some of the tricks that I’d been using back when I was in the writing habit, consciously or unconsciously. I picked a theme song and played it at the beginning of every writing session. I picked a particular writing snack. I picked a new writing spot in my new house where I would only write fiction, not all the other writing I do. I deliberately rebuilt the habit with a bundle of circumstances around it that would remind me of all the productive writing I’d done in the past. That helped break some of the bad habits I’d developed (e.g. checking Twitter “real quick”) that had pushed productive writing to the wayside.

So as you start this new calendar year, ask yourself if you like the habits you’ve developed. If you like them, keep them; if you don’t, why not make a change?

Q: What are your best tips and tricks for building a new habit, writing or otherwise? 

[url={url}]View the full article[/url]

AC Admin

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 0
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Days

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Days

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.



WTF is Wrong With Stephen King?

  • Create New...