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Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

From Commitment to Writing Habit

habit keesp you going past writers blockA sustainable writing habit is more important than luck or talent, more powerful than discipline or will power.

Your writing habit begins with commitments and the will power to honor your commitments — not hopes, good intentions or vague promises of “Someday when I have time.” Eventually, you create a habit, which is the neurological result of consistently honoring a commitment to show up.

Until you have a habit, however, you must rely on will power, which is limited. The faster you can switch from drawing on your will power to following a habit of writing just because that’s what you do, the easier and more satisfying your writing life will be.

Tips for Converting Commitments to Habits

  • Keep your commitment small to avoid anxiety that fuels resistance.
  • Keep you commitment small so you’ll find more opportunities to do it. There are more days where you can find 10 or 15 minutes than days with big blocks of free time.
  • Repeat as often as you can. The more frequently you repeat a behavior, the faster it becomes a habit. It is more effective to show up for four 15-minute sessions per week than to show up for one 1-hour session.
  • Keep it simple. The fewer decisions you have to make, the less you drain your will power. Eliminate the “will I or won’t I?” debate. If you said you’d show up for your writing, you show up.
  • Have a specific time to honor the commitment to remove the “when will I?” decision.
  • It’s easier to honor your commitment early in the day, before your decision-making capacity is depleted. Do what you say will do as soon as you can; that way, you can enjoy the satisfaction and self-respect for the rest of the day.
  • In the early stages, don’t specify what you’ll do when you show up. As long as what you do supports your writing in some way, as long as you’re available to your writing, it counts. Until you create the habit of showing up, what you do is far less important than the fact that you show up.
  • Give yourself a small reward when you honor your commitment. At the very least, acknowledge and celebrate the fact that you are honoring the commitment.

In time, showing up becomes habit. Honoring the commitment no longer requires will power. Showing up to write is who you are and what you do.

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7 Comments on “From Commitment to Writing Habit”

  1. Suzanne Joshi April 20, 2015 at 5:44 am #

    Good piece.



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