Two days ago I successfully completed establishing my writing habit. It took me exactly 21 days to build (I didn’t mess up at all)! My habit was to write for at least 30 minutes per day.
When I wrote about what I’d learned at the half-way point, nearly two weeks ago–I think I was on the right track. The largest impact my daily writing habit has had on me has been mental. Instead of viewing writing as something challenging, it has become something enjoyable and relaxing for me. Over the past few weeks I’ve drastically changed the way I feel about writing.
It feels good.
Will I continue to maintain this habit in the long term? Yes. So far I’ve written 7 blog articles, and a number of private journal entries that I’ve been quite proud of. Whenever I write, I tend to learn a lot of new things about whatever subject I’m writing about. Furthermore, and quite possibly most important, writing helps me clarify my thoughts in ways that talking and reading cannot.
There’s something special about writing words, stringing them into sentences, and then shifting those sentences around to construct arguments and ideas that is completely magical. Like I explained in a previous post about writing–it makes me feel like an inventor. While writing I feel like I’m Leonardo DaVinci, obsessively writing away by candlelight in a workshop long after everyone else is asleep. Only writing gives me that magical feeling.
Since I’ve recently finished building the habit, below are some tips you may (or may not) find useful if you too are considering developing a writing habit.
First of all–try to find (early on) a good time for writing in your day. My days are typically chaotic, as my wife’s work schedule changes from day-to-day, and depending on the situation at my work I may be busy in either morning, noon, or night. I found that for me, I tend to be in the writing mood most at night time, when things are quiet and I know that I’m no longer needed for any other activities by friends, family, or work. Having a good time each day you can set aside to write may mean the difference between successfully building your writing habit, or failing.
Take caffeine before writing. Seriously. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a caffeine junkie. While I’m not particularly proud of my addiction, I’ve found that caffeine makes a world of difference in my writing. It helps me focus, and more importantly, makes me a lot more creative. Several times over the past few weeks I wrote in an un-caffeinated state, and during those times I seemed to mope along at best, accomplishing very little. I’ve found that while under the influence of caffeine I’m a lot more thoughtful, creative, and successful with my writing.
Don’t restrict yourself to a single topic or genre. Before I started working on building this writing habit, I briefly considered wording it in a way that would restrict me to a particular type of writing (e.g. writing a journal for 30 minutes each day, or something to that effect). I’m glad I didn’t. What I realized is that some days I’m in the mood to write a private journal, while some days I’d much rather be working on a technical post, or even ranting about random things. I think that giving yourself the freedom to write whatever you want, so long as you write something, can be a great motivator and really help push you through the days where you just don’t think you can do it.
Hopefully my experiences have been useful and/or entertaining to you. If there’s anything you’d like to know, or if you have any questions–feel free to send me an email.