In this final video about building a writing habit, I want to share a few things that you really need to watch out for. These are the sort of pitfalls that I believe have sabotaged me as I’ve been trying to maintain my writing habit.
It takes time to build a writing habit. We’ve discussed how you want to design your habit specifically with your ‘why’ in mind. Why are you writing? What are you specifically aiming for? What clear goal are you shooting to achieve? Then, you want to take small incremental steps to get there.
Today, we’re going to talk about maintaining momentum and how to ensure that you keep up with this habit that you’re forming. There’s a principle in habit formation that can be stated really clearly, but is really hard to do: Never skip twice.
If you’re trying to form a habit and you fall off for one day, that’s not a problem. The problem arises when you fall off for a second day. The reason that’s a problem is because every time you make a choice to do something or not do something, you’re identifying what kind of person you are. You’re casting a vote for your future self. That’s a quote from James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits, which, again, you should definitely read.
If you take that second day off, then you’re telling yourself that you’re the kind of person who doesn’t stick with habits. On the other hand, if you miss one day, and then the next day you get back to the habit, you’re telling yourself that you’re the kind of person who returns to the important things. You’ll find that it becomes easier and easier to keep your habit. You’ll be able to maintain your momentum.
This is really important because life is rough. It throws all sorts of curveballs at you. At the beginning of this year, I had built a really rock-solid writing habit. I was consistently hitting 10k days and just crushing my word counts. I felt really good. I was writing really well. The content that I was putting out was fantastic and all around, things were just going really well.
Then, sort of out of the blue, life threw some major curveballs. If you’ve been following along in my saga, you know that last year I built an office. It was a great office. I really enjoyed it. It was in the garage and I could go out there and it was quiet. It was a great space to write.
So, imagine my surprise when all of a sudden I found out that we had to move. I wasn’t unhappy about having to move. It’s just that it wasn’t in my plan and it completely derailed my writing habit. I went from having this incredibly consistent habit to not even having the space to practice it. Thankfully, I’ve been able to build another office and I’m now getting back into my writing habit. But for a good four or five months, my life was just upended and it wasn’t reasonable to think that I would be able to continue in my writing habit.
This is why it’s so important that you spend time establishing that habit, that you don’t wait to start later, that you start now. The one thing that sort of carried me through this period of disruption was the fact that I have a writing habit. See, there’s a secret that people don’t talk about, which is that once you develop a writing habit, it’s like nicotine. If a smoker doesn’t smoke, they get really antsy. Well, if a writer with a writing habit doesn’t write, guess what? They get antsy too.
Having a writing habit is like having this little voice in the back of your head that’s constantly saying, “Hey, you could be writing right now. Hey, maybe you could squeeze in a couple hundred words. Hey, have you finished that chapter yet?” Some people might think that that voice is bad. I don’t think so. I think it’s fantastic. I think it’s the thing that keeps us going. I think it’s the muse driving us forward.
Thankfully, that’s what I’ve experienced this year. I had this rock-solid writing habit already established. So, when I haven’t been able to practice my writing habit, I feel weird. I feel a little bit awkward. Something feels off, something feels wrong. And that drives me to write. Even when I don’t want to, even when I feel like there are other things that I would rather do, even when my situation just isn’t optimal.
Now that I have a dedicated writing space again, I can start rebuilding my habit, getting it back into that sort of peak state that it was at the beginning of the year. And I know full well, I have full confidence that if something else disruptive happens, that’s okay. I can rebuild my writing habit. I’ve proven that I can do it. I’ve proven that even when life throws me a curveball, I can stay in the game.
If you’re interested in writing long-term, building a habit is the greatest thing you can do. Consistency really is the most powerful weapon at your disposal. So, practice it, ingrain it in your bones, so that when life disrupts you, you’ll be able to keep going.
YouTube Video Link: https://youtu.be/tn6miJbtBF4
Thanks for reading and watching.
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