Habit Forming

The biggest issue that you absolutely have to overcome if you actually want to be a writer is that you need to do it all the time.

Lots of people think they could write a book, and a lot of them are probably right, but a significantly smaller number are going to commit the time necessary to actually do it.

For me, it’s always been a question of allowing myself to write as little or as much as I like without feeling guilty about it.  I let myself get down, thinking that I don’t have “enough time,” or I didn’t “get anything done,” and the not-writing just perpetuates itself.  Frankly, it IS much easier to NOT write and feel bad about it than it is to actually write something.  So, I’ve historically followed that path of least resistance.

I’ve also noticed over time that each individual who wants to write is going to do it in his or her own way.  You can get all sorts of advice on how to write, or what it’s like to be a real writer, but there is no real prescription other than to DO IT.  The experience of writing my thesis taught me that I am at my best and most productive when I can sequester myself for a length of time, and completely wipe out distractions.  I am horrible at working in coffee shops, for example.  It’s risky for me to even be in the same room with a TV if I want to really make headway on a writing project.

Letting those issues completely paralyze me is a problem, though.  I might need a week’s vacation or some other sort of “writing retreat” to make significant progress in a hurry, but by not doing anything most days, all I’m ensuring is that absolutely no progress happens.  So, in the same spirit as picking up the blog again, I am going to set a very small and reachable goal for myself to get some writing done on a daily basis.  Thirty minutes.  I am going to commit to spending just half an hour per day working on a piece of writing.  By the end of the first week, I will have written for three-and-a-half more hours than I did last week.  It’s time to develop some beneficial habits.

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