The Writing Habit
November 8, 2022
Note From Rochelle
I’m learning a new coaching method—and I need practice! If you’re looking for lower-cost coaching, this might be helpful for you. You can make an appointment at my Consultation page and choose “Life Coaching.” The 45-minute session is just $75: https://writenowcoach.com/consultation/
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Today’s tip will help you make writing a habit, a practice I’ve relied on for 20 years to write 12 books and hundreds of articles.
Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach
Make Writing a Habit
By Rochelle Melander
First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice.
Here’s a little secret. If you can carve out the same little slice of time each day and make writing a habit, you will save your brain a lot of energy.
Our brains love habits and routines. They love them because it saves energy. (Interesting point: Your brain loves your bad habits and your good habits equally—that’s why it’s so hard to give up your daily bag of chips.)
You can harness the power of your habit-loving brain and create a writing habit.
In the book The Power of Habit, author Charles Duhigg suggests that our habits have three distinct steps: cue, practice, reward. This habit loop might be as simple as brushing our teeth:
Cue: It’s bedtime.
Practice: Brush Teeth
Reward: Ohhh! My mouth feels fresh and clean.
To create a writing habit, find a cue that works, get writing, and reward yourself when you’ve finished.
Famous Writer’s Habits
Other writers have made writing a habit—and some of their cues are quite interesting.
Victor Hugo had his butler take away his clothes. Left with nothing but pen and paper, Hugo had to write.
Flannery O’Connor was sick with lupus—but depended on the habit of getting up early and writing every single morning. She said,
“I write only about two hours every day because that’s all the energy I have, but I don’t let anything interfere with those two hours, at the same time and the same place.” (From The Habits of Being, quoted at Lena Sledge’s Blog )
Maya Angelou rented a hotel room to write.
“I do still keep a hotel room in my hometown, and pay for it by the month. I go around 6:30 in the morning. I have a bedroom, with a bed, a table, and a bath. I have Roget’s Thesaurus, a dictionary, and the Bible.” (The Daily Beast)
Haruki Murakami has relied on a regular daily routine to write more than 20 books.
“When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at four a.m. and work for five to six hours. In the afternoon, I run for ten kilometers or swim for fifteen hundred meters (or do both), then I read a bit and listen to some music. I go to bed at nine p.m.
I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind.” (James Clear)
Find a cue that will remind you to write. Create a ritual around it. Enjoy the reward of getting more work done!