For about two weeks now, I am introducing daily writing habit to my routine. My goal is to write around 500 words each day. I focus on consistency and habit formation, and do not think much about quality, editing and everything else. Looking back, I see that I am doing reasonably well.
And the reason is not actually that I am writing 500 words each day (although I do), but because I am doing it in an easy way. One of very important lessons I got from reading Atomic Habits was that in order to get yourself learn something and make habit out of it, you have to make it easy. You have to be patient and start with small steps and make sure you are not over-pressuring yourself. Many habits fail because we set too big standards and goals and after initial excitement, we fail to adhere to them. Disappointed, we leave our habit formation attempts and just go back to usual.
Which is exactly the opposite of what you are trying to do, because your habit should become this “usual.” A default state of things. Something that you automate to such extent, that it requires you no or little effort to do it. That you do not even think about it while doing it. This does not happen when you set yourself hard goals that require too much effort too soon. Your mind’s default is energy-saving mode, so it will resist everything that requires a lot of energy unless it is something vital for surviving — like eating, breathing or running away from danger. All other time, our mind pushes us to least energy consuming activities or the ones that we so used to, that even if its energy consuming, our mind does not really oppose it. Forcing yourself to do hard things will make you quite faster.
Here, I want to put quote from a very good book about running, that tells us something about how to make running an easy and joyful process:
“Think Easy, Light, Smooth, and Fast. You start with easy, because if that’s all you get, that’s not so bad. Then work on light. Make it effortless, like you don’t give a shit how high the hill is or how far you’ve got to go. When you practiced that so long that you forget you’re practicing, you work on making it smooooooth. You won’t have to worry about last one — you get those three, and you’ll be fast.”
With my writing habit, I focus on making it easy and convenient. I argue against all those people that request special time (usually early morning), special place (coffee shops or own private rooms), special tools (typewriter, fancy keyboards, writing in fancy Moleskine notebook) and special mood (focus, deep work, no distractions) when it gets to writing process. This means that I argue against pretty much most of writers, bloggers and all those who write. I may be wrong and if I am, I will take 100% responsibility. But for the last two weeks, I was writing everywhere possible under different circumstances. I was writing on my iPhone while on subway going to IKEA, in taxi while moving my stuff, during early work hours on my work laptop or sitting on the floor of my empty room when assembling my work table. Most of writing I did on my iPhone — it was the most convenient quickest option I had. I had no problems jotting 500 words or more, and even constructing narrative and coming up with tittles, saving them and then moving on. For last two weeks, I wrote every day one cohesive text or sometimes even two and I did not wait for inspiration, right time, right mood or right setting. I knew I had a goal for today, and whenever I saw opportunity, I opened whatever I had closest and started writing.
Now, I am talking about writing, not editing process. Just pure taking your thoughts on the paper or screen or whatever you use. Editing and re-writing are different processes altogether, and at this easy stage of daily writing formation, I do not pay much attention to them.
My desire to make writing a habit was coming a long way, but the strongest motivation came from my favorite YouTube vlogers. Those, who put out video everyday, focus on consistency, skill and expertise formation. Their videos may not be very rich on the substance, but they are sharpening up skill and mindset of shooting, light editing and putting a video every day. This skill will be very helpful when they decide to do some serious content that will require lots of heavy focus. Similarly, in running, before running a very long distance, you learn to master shorter distance, and the consistency and frequency of your short runs will directly affect how you will go in your long run.
Does this mean I am preparing myself for “big” or “serious” writing? May be yes, but not necessarily. I do not think about it. I just focus on putting down my words and moving on the next thing. Just like I am doing now.