Committing to Habit Formation

Habits are best formed when you do them daily. The reason for this is because we’re trying to develop muscle/brainwave memory. If we can work on it every day—or nearly every day—then when we have a bad day, our muscle memory will have us going through the motions because it’s a habit.

Let’s say that your super goal is to write eight books this year. Would you be deterred from this if:

  • Your youngest stubbed his toe?
  • Your cat decided she needed the special water bowl.
  • One of your author “friends” said something stupid on Facebook.
  • It’s Wednesday—or, well, any day ending in “y,” really.
  • All of the above?
  • None of the above?

The correct answer is all of the above. Some of these are exaggerations. I’m not going to lie, but these are our distractions. They seem to work like dominoes. We’re interrupted once, and it takes forever to get back into our groove. Now, if these aren’t your distractions, that’s fine. There are others. Many, many others. They’re not stupid and they’re not wrong.

They’re just something you need to find better ways of handling so that every day has a little more success than failure for you to build your author career upon. The best time to write is:

  • First thing in the morning after you wake up.
  • Last thing at night before you go to sleep.
  • When your energy naturally peaks.

The correct answer is after your energy naturally peaks because we’re not all morning people and we’re not all night owls. However, we also have to pay the bills, or we have kids, or a partner, or other responsibilities that take that “natural high” energy time of our day.

Sometimes, we’re forced into a cycle where we have to write first thing in the morning, but our natural energy peaks in the afternoon. Sometimes, we have to adjust our mindset to achieve our goals, but just keep in mind that one of your long-term goals might be to finally be able to write when your energy is at its max. The best way to develop a new habit is to do it:

  • Daily
  • Once a week
  • Once a month
  • When it’s convenient

Habits are best formed when you do them daily. The reason for this is because we’re trying to develop muscle/brainwave memory. If we can work on it every day—or nearly every day—then when we have a bad day, our muscle memory will have us going through the motions because it’s a habit.

We need to remember that bad things are going to happen. Our lives will find bumps—big ones—every once in a while.

So, if we craft the “practice” of writing into the “habit” of writing, we’ll be more consistent no matter what’s going on in our lives. Or at the very least, we’ll be better.

Takeaways

Some of the things to take away here are that:

  • Science and experience state that if we work to develop a practice daily, it will become a habit.
  • We need to watch our energy peaks and try to find a way to work with our natural abilities. However, we also need to work within the constraints of our other responsibilities. Work when you can without killing yourself.

Do Right Now

Find a journal or planner that you’re going to use to track your daily word counts. Whatever the method you use, whether it’s paper and pen or on the computer, tablet, or phone, make sure that it’s easily accessible. Make a promise to yourself to commit to this.

Resources

Noom7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

Time Management for Writers by Sandra Gerth

Dear Author, Are You In Burnout? By Becca Syme

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