The Writing Habit–in 3 Easy Steps

Welcome back to Motivational Monday!  Hope all is going well with your writing.

Some of you might say, “I don’t need to have a writing habit.”  To that, I’m going to quote Dr. Phil, “How’s that working for you?”  Do you tell yourself you’re “going to write today,” only to find that the day slips by without you honoring your promise to yourself?  Then a week goes by and you’re feeling guilty . . .then a month goes by and you feel all is lost?  Guess what?  It’s not.  You just need to develop a habit, and it’s not as restricting or hard as you might imagine.

Don’t feel as if you’re alone in this.  I’ve written a lot of books (21 to date), and I struggled with the hit-and-miss type of writing for years.  One day I’d be “in flow” and write three chapters, the next I’d barely do a paragraph, if I wrote anything at all.  I read all the books on habits, because I was frustrated with myself for not having the “willpower” to make myself write everyday.

I found I was doing a couple of things incorrectly.  One, I hadn’t defined what the term “writing” actually meant.  It encompasses a lot of jobs, especially for us Indie writers; planning, research, actual writing of new words, editing, rewriting, working with our book cover designer, uploading everything to Kindle Direct Publishing (or whoever you use), and doing something to market our new book.

Whew!  That’s a lot of hats to wear!  Add to that, blogging, if you have a website.  I knew some of these jobs were things I could do in the afternoon, but the new writing, editing, rewriting and blogging I needed to do in the mornings, when I was at my best, mentally.

With “writing” finally defined, the next thing I needed to do was find a trigger that would get my butt-in-chair habit up and running.  All habits, good and bad, have a trigger. (For example, nail biting.  The trigger is you feel a rough spot on your nail.  The habit takes over, almost unconsciously, and you nip at your nail.  The reward?  A smooth nail.)  TRIGGER/HABIT/REWARD.  Those are the three parts to any habit.

I looked at what I do naturally, every morning.  I get up, wash and moisturize my face, brush my teeth, comb my hair, and take my thyroid pill.  Then I need to wait an hour before I eat, to let the pill do its thing.  I decided that was my trigger–taking my pill.  And instead of the usual playing around on the computer, I was going to take that hour to write.  No matter what happened for the rest of the day, at least that hour of writing had been done.

Remember I said this habit wasn’t restricting?  Did you see me set an alarm to get up?  No.  I let that happen naturally.  My husband is semi-retired, only working three or four days a week, and his schedule is crazy.  Sometimes he’s home by 4, sometimes 7 or 8, and sometimes not until 11.  This means I go to sleep at all hours–8:30 if we’ve been down to see the grand kids, and I’m worn out, to 11:30, if my mind is unusually active and awake.  Then there are the mornings I’m up at 2:30, because my mind won’t let me sleep, but too early to take my pill.  So, for me to set an alarm to get up is nuts!  I just let myself wake up naturally, then start my morning routine. (Hey, I’m old.  I realize I’ve chosen a job from which I’ll never retire, but that doesn’t mean I have to get up at the crack of dawn everyday!)

Everyone is different.  You have to do what’s right for you.  If you’re 30-something, and have a day job, you have to get up at a certain time to go to work.  You’re used to an alarm clock. (Been there, done that, for many years, my friend.)  You may have to set that clock an hour early to start your day with writing.  Or you may write better in the late afternoon, or at night.  Somehow you need to find something you do everyday and make that your trigger. (If you come home from work and have a snack, make that snack your trigger.  Your reward can be having dinner, or playing on the computer–whatever works for you.)

I hope by my sharing my story, that it will spur you on to find your own trigger to get you into the writing habit.  If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.  I’ll answer your question–as soon as I have breakfast (my reward).

Happy Reading and Writing to you all,




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