Monday, November 11, 2019

Relaunching Your Writing Habit Without Waiting for the New Year



It is a natural thing at the end of the year to be thinking about the things we accomplished in the months past and the new heights we want to reach for in the New Year.
If you want to take this opportunity to fine tune your writing habits, good news is ahead. You don't have to wait for the confetti to fly to make your biggest impact. In fact, if you start now, you will hit your ninety day habit stride right as most people are abandoning their New Year's Resolutions.

Here are a handful of components that are each helpful in their own way. Combining them into one effective strategy magnifies the effect.

1. Deciding on the main focus area(s).

Keeping it to a minimum of one focus area and a maximum of two allows for a little flexibility without diluting your efforts. Think of what you want to make progress on. Is it article querying or blog posting? Novel drafting or poem crafting? Regardless of writing project type, what you want is momentum. Working in the same direction for a sustained period allows you to experience habit success rapidly and repeatedly. Doing the writing work day after day in a regular way means that before long, it will be a go-to habit and by the end of the project window, will be an entrenched lifestyle. That's when you will know you have secured your writing habits in a way that will position you for breakthrough over previous results in the coming year.

2. Establishing an overall project scope.

You know best what resonates with you. Is it word count? Timed sessions? Numbers of submissions or posts? Decide at the outset and execute accordingly by determining how that breaks down over the individual sessions. Having a tracking log on your fridge calendar, notes in your day timer, or notes (and corresponding reminders) on your phone means that you always know where you stand in terms of project completion and habit momentum.

3. Attach your to do's to your schedule.

The idea of getting these new tasks completed is just concept without action. The way to move from decision to execution is to create space and expectation for yourself. Making a check off box to complete 500 words of new material, come up with a blog post of any length, or a daily timed writing makes that much more sure that you have a way to make yourself before writing is an automatic response. Use the strategy that best fits your lifestyle and way you currently live and schedule those sessions in to specific days and times.

4. Expect your minimum. Surprise yourself with more.

Having a low bar you expect yourself to hit means you are more likely to experience success from the outset. A line of check marks marching across the page is likely the motivation you didn't know you needed. As the initial honeymoon phase of writing re-launch fades, hitting these minimum targets will feel like a smaller target to hit and much easier to get out of the way. Let yourself enjoy that without undue pressure to keep accelerating at an unsustainable pace. It is better to experience that low bar success repeatedly and occasionally burst out with more than to keep moving the bar higher and burnout before the writing habit lifestyle is entrenched.

5. Work steadily to the overall number of days you are aiming for. 

Whether you decide to make it 90 days (which is akin to a three month habit) or 100 sessions (conveniently also the number of stories that fit into one Instagram highlight -- my personal habit creator favourite); consistency is the key. Don't expect perfection, just presence. Allowing yourself to show up and deliver a variety of results is the best way to re-learn, re-launch, and re-new. May the New Year find you riding the wave of habit formation and writing to tell us about it.

For more on grace and growth on the writing journey visit https://www.instagram.com/michellevandepol/

Let the process do its thing and turn you back into a regularly producing writer.

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