The Importance of a Writing Habit

Saturday, January 04, 2020
Let's talk about habits. It's an important subject considering how we are all talking about New Year's Resolutions. What makes resolutions so unique is that most of us are fitting in a new way of living or being that we aren't used to already. It could be a new exercise routine, a healthier diet, or a more positive outlook. For writers, maybe you are increasing your word count, promising to read more, grow your platform or take a class. Whatever it may be, it's a challenge you want to take on for the new year.

But back to habits. For me, brushing my teeth is a habit. I do it twice a day and floss at night. I do it without thinking and haven't gone a day without brushing at least once. I read somewhere that you should add writing in somewhere that's already a habit. Like teeth brushing. So, brush your teeth, then write 500 words.

For me, I realized recently I have made a habit of writing. I tend to write on the weekends and I devote Sunday (if not both weekend days) to working on something.

Here's why habits can help:

Recently, I received feedback on a story that was mostly positive but I read critical remarks about the story that overwhelmed me. I felt exhausted just thinking about the story and wondered if I should ditch it. Soon my brooding shifted into reluctant writing. On Sunday, I brought up the story and made a few comments for myself about what I wanted to change in the piece. It wasn't much but it was something. Habit superceded the bummer feeling I was dealing with and I made progress. Now, my perspective on the story has changed and I feel like I can take it on.

As you approach your 2020 resolutions, consider transforming a goal or resolution into a habit. Whether it's a certain time of day or after a certain activity (like teeth brushing), add your resolution. Even if it means breaking your resolution into tiny pieces and tiny activities you can sprinkle around your habitual activities. This will especially help you during a sluggish day or two.

With any luck, your resolution will become an embedded part of your lifestyle.

Happy New Year everyone!


Sioux Roslawski said...

Nicole--Yes, developing a habit to write on a daily basis is so important when it comes to writers. When we become lax and inactive and DON'T write, it becomes a bad habit. I speak from experience. Since Margo wrote a post about beginning the "new year" before January 1, I've taken on the challenge. Now I have 10,500 words down where there was once was only 1,000. Can I keep up this pace, since I have to go back to work on Monday? No, but I have gotten back into the habit of writing, so hopefully, the words will continue to trickle...

Margo Dill said...

Sioux: I am so excited about your 10,500 words. And I wonder if you could do half that when you go back to work. I never knew I could write drafts as fast as I can until my writing group challenged me to do a couple sprints when we were together in Vegas. I thought to myself: how could 20 minutes of writing ever add up, and then wow! it does! :)

Nicole: I like this example you gave about how habits help. I totally agree, too. :) Keep it up!

Lynn Nicholas said...

I could benefit from following this example. Some days my only writing is a Facebook post, but I actually copy a few posts into a 'bits and pieces' file if I'm on a philosophical tear. Writing is writing....maybe? I could benefit from a bit more discipline.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Thanks for this post, Nicole! I took a diversion from my memoir into writing short and submitting, but this week I plan on getting back into the daily writing routine. Mine is morning coffee, then write, then brush my teeth. :)
Your weekend writing habit is a good one. Sometimes I find if I go too long without writing, it takes a while to get back into the piece. Other times, when I write daily, like during NaNo, I start to dread it, and the words are forced and uninspired. So I'm figuring out what balance works best for me. It's usually a few days in a row, then take a couple days off, then back to it. That keeps my mind and words fresh. Cheers to your 2020 writing habit!

Renee Roberson said...

I feel like a slug compared to everyone else around here! My writing has really taken to the back burner this year, I guess because I have to write during the day for my job. It's not the same thing, though. I'm going to tinker around with my schedule this week and see if can get a writing challenge going for myself.

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