How to Make Writing a Habit
We all have rituals in our life. Every morning, I wake and make myself a cappuccino, not those want-to-be cappuccino in those plastic k-cups. I make real Italian coffee in an espresso pot, served in my white cappuccino cup, extra foam and topped with cinnamon. The house is usually still dark; I turn on the light next to my chair. I pull a soft, knitted cream blanket across my lap, with coffee beside me and laptop in hand, I begin to write. It’s a simple routine and may not seem important to the outside observer, but to me it is the ritual that launches me into my writing time.
My writing time is distraction-free. There is no music playing, the TV is off and I have not opened my email or social media. Depending on my schedule, I may write for 30 minutes, I may write all morning. The practice of pouring that coffee, wrapping myself in a blanket and sitting in my favourite chair is my ritual. It’s very purpose is to place me in a mindset to write, to be creative.
Why do we want or need to create rituals? Rituals help us to habitulize events in our day, they give us one less thing to think about, one less task to plan. When we begin any new routine and wish to establish it as a new habit, we usually fight it, we question it. There is usually an element of fear present. We are walking into the unknown and the unknown is fearful. If you’re just beginning to write your family history stories than you are probably experiencing some of that fear. You’re questioning whether you have the time or talent to complete this project. You fear you lack the skills and you fear what others may say about your skills. It is unknown territory for you and therefore your fear is justified.
By creating a ritual, an environment that welcomes your new habit, and says ok, I’m here and ready to write, it opens the door to being creative, it eliminates the need to ask the question, why am I doing this? I already know, I perform these rituals to prepare myself to write. The ritual allows you to welcome the habit and to stop questioning its existence. The ritual won’t eliminate your fear, but it will help you to create a pattern, and help to keep the fear from disrupting your intent.
We all have rituals in our day. Morning routines, exercise routines, work schedules and bedtime habits are common practice in most people’s lives. Most of these routines develop quite sub-consciously. Think of the customs you created for your children when they were young to prepare them for bed, or nap time, or dinnertime. Rituals are ceremonial acts to prepare you for an event. In order to set up writing as an event in your life, consider creating a few ceremonial practices as your signal to begin.
Be aware of distractions. By allowing distractions in, you are sabotaging your efforts and your fear just maybe the cause. Stand your ground, don’t let fear sideline you with interruptions and excuses.
Each writer must find the environmental conditions that allow them to be creative. My morning routine is personal to me and me alone. You must find what works for you, what will prepare you and your mind. Rituals offer the signal; this is what I’m doing for the next 30 minutes, 60 minutes or 500 words. This very rite aids you in creating an environment that is habit-forming.
How do you make writing habit-forming?
- Remove distractions, it clears time and mental space so you can focus on the task at hand.
- Identify the writing environment that allows you to be creative. It might take a couple of adjustments to find what works for you, but be aware of your surroundings and how they affect your writing process.
- Develop rituals that prepare the environment for writing and signal your mind it’s time to begin.
- Write every day.