Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Writing Habit

Copyright Nintendo

If you haven’t been writing enough and you think that it’s time to cultivate a writing habit, you should get started right away.  To change a habit, get a habit or improve something, you need 4 things.  Clear goals, feedback, reward and a start.  The same applies to writing.

Clear Goals
Know what you want to achieve.  If you want to pull a Stephen King and write 2000 words a day, do so.  If you want to make room for emergencies and busy days, set up a word count for the week.  Or you could write for a set time every day.  But make sure your goal is measurable, i.e. amount of words, amount of time.  Don’t just think that you will write every day.

With this, I don’t mean people telling you if your writing is any good, I mean that you need feedback on the completion of your goals.  If you have a word count limit for day, get a word processor that can count your words.  Or if you have a time limit, get an alarm clock.  If your goal longer, such as words a week, set up a table or spreadsheet in which you calculate your total.

You can give yourself a reward every time you finish a goal (like watching TV after you finished your daily words), but with this, I’m specifically referring to the end-goal.  I.e. the reason why you’re doing this.  You need to ask yourself, why are you spending hours every day to write down things that you thought up?  Once you have that answer and it’s satisfactory, it will motivate you to come back every day.

The key to forming a habit is to get started.  If you just keep planning and never start, you’ll never get anywhere.  So if you want to start a habit, start now.  If you don’t, you’ll just keep putting it off until never.  Go.  Start.  Now.

If you have these four ingredients in order, it shouldn’t be too long before you’ve gotten into a habit.

If you’re having trouble getting started, you might want to review your goals and make them easier.  Going from 0 to 2000 words a day is pretty tricky.  If you’re still having trouble, make the goal so easy that you cannot possibly come up with an excuse to skip it.  Make it, write for two minutes.  Still too hard?  Take a lesson from Zen Habits and make it 20 seconds.

Once you have the habit, you will get closer and closer to your reward.  And when you reach it, it’ll be worth it (if it’s even reachable…).

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