Do you write as much as you want to or think you should? If not, it’s time to change your bad habit. Writing regularly will help you reach your goals, but it’s hard. Also, most of us have to do it in our spare time—which is spare. Even though all of our excuses about why we’re not writing are good—we’re busy, we’re working, we’re tired, we’re scrolling through Facebook, Netflix is on—we need to change our ways. After all, the only way to reach our writing goals is to, well, write. If you’re ready to start creating good writing habits, read on.
Don’t Rely on Willpower
Writing is funny because it’s something you want to do, but it’s also something you avoid doing. Whether you’re not writing at all or know you need to be more productive, changing your ways will take more than willpower. Yes, you’ll need to engage some of it to sit at your desk, but eventually, we all run out of willpower.
Willpower is exhausting. Ask anyone who’s ever been on a diet. You can start strong, but eventually you wear out. The key to writing more is to turn it into a habit.
Retrain Your Brain
Most of what we do in a day is a habit. Habits can be good for us, bad for us, or mundane. Brushing your teeth is a mundane habit. We don’t think of it as a habit; we think of it as a hygiene necessity (which it is!). In fact, we have trained our brain to reach for a toothbrush sometime between when we wake up and before we walk out the door in the morning. We aren’t white-knuckling it into the bathroom to brush our teeth. We aren’t forcing ourselves to get out the toothpaste. We just do it—no drama involved.
Habits form when you do something over and over again. Our brains like habits because it’s one less thing to think about it. It helps us know what to expect and how to survive. That’s why we feel funny when something we’re used to having or doing (coffee, wine, workouts, TV—whatever it is) isn’t there. It’s not that we need to play Candy Crush or scroll social media before we sit down at our desk to write, it’s that we’ve chose to do it so many times in a row that it’s second nature.
In order to start writing more often, we need to make writing second nature. We need to retrain our brain to crave writing. We need to feel like something is missing when we’re not writing.
Form a New Habit
Most of the habits we form are unconscious. The brain takes note of what we do on a regular basis and assumes that’s what we need/want to be doing (whether it is or not). You can start to write on a regular basis without willpower if you create the habit of doing so. How? Start doing it! In time (a few weeks or a month), it will become a new habit, and you’ll feel funny if you’re not doing it. It’ll begin to be like leaving the house in the morning before you brush your teeth—like you forgot something.
One of the best ways to form the habit is to find a time and a day where you devote yourself to writing. Ideally, find that time every or almost every day. That will make the habit stick better. It doesn’t have to be a large amount of time: even an hour will do. Make sure you are free from distractions and be consistent. In time you’ll have formed good writing habits.