Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Until it becomes habit

Humans are for the most part creatures of habit. There are a few rebellious folks who pick up their lives and completely change them every few years, but for the most part- we’re beings who follow patterns.

This is true for many things in life- like say fitness and writing :).

I’ve been slowly working towards getting healthy over the last few months. I work out at a gym 3 days a week (weights) and I do 3.5 mile walks 2 a week, and a long walk at least one day on the week-end. I started slowly and built my way up until it’s become a habit. Now don’t get me wrong, I still don’t really LIKE having to work out like this- especially since I have a day job which means I’m up at 5am to inflict this torture upon myself. I like having done it.

But it has become habit.

If I don’t go during the week, I feel off. Just like something is just a tad off but nothing major. And I definitely notice a difference when I get back into my routine the next day. Weight loss is slow, but my body is adapting happily to my new habit.

Writing needs to be a habit.

I recently have had some stressors kicking my life around lately and I fell off the writing wagon. It started slowly, working on edits and convincing myself that I shouldn’t start my new book yet. Then life started getting messy and even the edits stopped.

Now I feel about writing like someone who is looking at all those folks at the gym in panic and confusion. My writing “gait” is off because I let go of my habit.
I’m now trying to get my writing habit back in place- stronger than before. I’ve always been more of a writing when I want to person, but there was never a set goal. I was lucky that since I love writing not having a set goal wasn’t a problem. Until now.

So, I’m looking for help, suggestions, ideas, to really make this essential to my well being, to make this such an ingrained habit that when I miss a day I actually ache.


  1. I've always found that I have to have a visual reminder that I have pages to write. I used to use a large graph on the wall, marking off my week's goal and the filling in the squares as I finished writing each day. Now I use an excel spreadsheet, but the principle is the same. I always know how far I want to get by the end of the week and how much progress I've made.

  2. Consistency is the key. I imagine that you go the gym on the same days around the same time. How about a schedule for writing? I also like rewards (not the calorie laden kind) that you can earn. If you write from 5:00 pm - 7:00 on a certain night, then you can watch you favorite show on tv.

  3. You and me both sister Sue. In fact, I have fallen off the wagon so many times that the damn wagon rolled right over me and said, "See ya, wouldn't wanna be ya."

    Yeah. I don't think I ever want to see a wagon again or be on one.

    So, having put that behind me. Some tricks that has helped me in the past.

    1. Open up a blank document or email and type a few lines. Doesn't have to be perfect. Keep it open if you can or minimized if you work in the type of office like I do where everyone feels your business is their business too. :-D

    2. Use your cell phone. If you have a smart phone you can dictate your thoughts into the phone. I have sticky notes on mine and a notebook type function that allows me to type some notes.

    3. If you commute on a train like I do,carry a notebook with you if you don't care for the phone version. Jot down a plot, character ideas. You can even write a synopsis of your characters.

    4. Join a group that does speed writing. Just like speed dating your time is up in an hour. Well writing does take longer than speed dating. Thank God I have a husband. I would never survive speed dating.

    Facebook has a group called 100 words a day. (

    Feel free to join. Any writer can. Sometimes seeing the other writers putting up stuff is a motivator. And when we don't reach the goal we post that too.

    Twitter also has speed writing as well. it's hashtag #1k1hr that 1,000 words in 1 hour. ;-)

    I hope these things will get you back on the trail. Well, I off to write. Even if it's only five words. Good night!

  4. I always have a couple WIPs going at the same time so if I'm at a roadblock on one or just not feeling it, I switch to one of the others. When I can't even do that, I work on plotting or character sketches for other books in the planning stages. If even that's not hooking me, I do research for one of my books or work on edits or contest entries. I give myself lots of options, and as long as I do a "writerly" thing every day, I don't have to beat myself up for not meeting my goals. I don't have a set word count goal. With my job, I know I couldn't meet it consistently, but I'm always making progress if I stick to my "one writerly thing" guideline.

    I also do well using a notepad when I've got a quick break, waiting for training or away from a computer. Sometimes I'm more productive this way because it eliminates my tendency to get all "oooooh, shiny" with blogs, tweets and emails.

  5. I'm glad you put out a shout out. It's a good reminder that I need to check in with my friends more. I think one of the advantages of working with a partner is that even when I fall off, I feel the pressure to get back to writing because someone is counting on me.

    You wrote a post on NanoWrimo. That is coming up soon. Are you going to do it? That will be a big kickstart to writing.

    You found a "best" time to walk for yourself. When is the best time for you to write? Morning, after work, late at night? If making a habit is important, choose one of those times and stick with it.

    Do you have a critique group or even one person you can exchange writing with? Having a deadline where you have to show something to someone can be a motivator.

    The important thing is to sit in front of your computer and even if all you do is write I can't think of anything to write about 100 times, that's okay. Eventually, you will.

    Hugs and keep us posted on how it works out for you.

  6. WOW! Thank you so much for the great ideas! I'm writing them all down and trying them all :). I'm feeling excited about getting back on track (LOVED the wagon bit Lizzie. Giving myself a set time, making myself accountable, making sure I have some writerly thing in there, YES! :) Doable options that should help me. As for Nano- heh- yeah that was my attempt to get back on track the hard and brutal way ;).

    Thank you all again and also a big thank you to the folks who emailed me ideas! It really means alot that there are "lifelines" out there :)

  7. Hi Marie,

    I second everything said above! I work best when I have a deadline or a specific goal, so maybe chart out your word-count goals for the week and the month. Also, I read in "The Art of War for Writers" that you should never end a chapter and stop writing. You should at least get a paragraph into the next chapter so your brain starts working on it. Good luck!

  8. Thank you Cori- great points. I might have to look into that book too! :)