Daily Archives: March 6, 2012

(Un)Healthy Writing 2: Forming Habits

So, the funny thing about starting anything is that it can become a habit.  Take working out, smoking pot or chewing your fingernails as examples.  Each of these behaviors can cement themselves into a person’s lifestyle if given enough time and attention.  Roughly three weeks, according to most studies.

Yet, not all habits are good.  Smoking pot?  Not good.  Chewing fingernails?  Not so good.  Working out?  Very good.  Washing your hands, reading a book, writing a novel.  Really, everything we do in life.

Behaviors cross into habit territory when we no longer have to think about them.  Consider those teens we talked about yesterday.  The 81% who took a sip of alcohol at the party to fit in.  After a month of weekend partying, many of those teens will lose their hesitation and begin chugging liquor without a second thought.  Drinking has become a habit.

That’s bad news for their parents, but good news for us.  As aspiring writers, we can consciously form writing habits in much the same way.

How, you ask?  First, determine when you will write.  Lunch breaks, before the rest of the household wakes or deep into the wee hours of night.  Whatever time you choose, plan to stick with it for three weeks.  If you stay true to your schedule (give or take hours/words here and there), you should emerge a writer by the end of the month.

Can you be a drinker if you’ve only drank once?  In the same way, can you be a writer if you pen a few words every now and again?  In other words, what is the defining behavior between one who is (a writer, drinker, dancer, health nut, clean freak) and one who simply does (write, drink, dance, work out or clean)?

Seriously, is it the passion behind the action, the frequency, the intent, or the thoughtful/thoughtlessness of the behavior?

Curious minds really want to know.