The Writing Habit that Sticks

In order to make a automatic habit, you’ll need to create a habit loop. A habit loop starts with a cue, which triggers a craving. By satisfying this craving (response), you’ll be rewarded with a feeling of satisfaction.

Prep your space in advance

Empty the desk of all distractions. Make your coffee. Put on whatever tunes inspire you or keep you focused. Make sure your dog is walked and your family knows not to disturb you for the next few hours.

Make the time

Write every day if possible, but at the very least every other day for at least 15minutes. To form a habit, it is essential that the behaviour is executed on a regular basis!

Prep your project

Use ‘dead’ time, such as sitting in the waiting room at the dentist to keep the project alive by looking up research questions on your phone. This way you’ll have everything you need at hand during the actual writing session.

Make S.M.A.R.T. goals so you know exactly what part to work on when you start your writing session.

Specific – finish writing the opening scene
Measurable – around 600 words
Attainable – Reserve 4x three hours a week to write
Relevant – this completes act 1
Time-bound – finish before the end of the month

Experience your keystone cue

The cue can be anything from a certain time of day (dinner at 6pm anyone?), a location, a certain event, an emotional state or other people that motivate you.

The best cue differs for each person. A keystone cue is a cue that sets off a chain reaction without extra effort.

For example: working out automatically steers me to make healthier food choices. Seeing images that resemble my story-world makes me want to dive back into it.

Whenever you encounter something that makes you crave writing, take note of it and use it to kickstart a scheduled writing session. By conditioning yourself to write upon perceiving the cue, you’ll automatically get to work every time.

Satisfy your craving by writing

Actually start writing. Warm up by editing a page or two from the last session. Write gibberish for a page or two. It doesn’t matter. Keep the keyboard banging. Keep the pen moving. Don’t analyze, just keep going. No filters. No holding back. Be brutally honest. Ignore grammar, spelling and punctuation. Focus only on practicing strong verbs and telling details. Never apologize for what comes out. This is writing time, even if your writing sucks, you’ll feel good having written it. Because you can edit a bad page, not a blank one.

Note: It takes a minimum of 15 uninterrupted minutes of focused writing to enter a state of flow. No multi tasking!

Tips:
Early mornings are the best.
The colours blue and green enhance creativity. The colour red enhances performance on detail orientated tasks.

Reward

Ah… that feeling of pride and satisfaction after a productive writing session!

Take a moment to appreciate the benefit you gained from having written. Check out the progress in word count. Give yourself a sense of accomplishment by ticking your smart goal off your to-do list.