This is my 18th day of writing every day. I’d gone many months of not writing much of anything. I knew my excuses to myself about why I wasn’t writing were mostly crap, but I just couldn’t seem to make myself sit down and do it.
I used to really dislike exercise. Maybe a short nature walk. Maybe an easy bike ride, as long as it wasn’t too often. Since my recovery from the string of surgeries a few years ago, I’ve gotten a nice exercise routine down. With the pandemic still raging, I’m not at the gym with weights anymore, but I’m still exercising at home with a pretty good routine. Now, I feel off if I don’t get some form of exercise in every day. Sometimes it’s just a short go on the stationary bike if I’m really tired, but I do something each day.
I figured if I could do that – if I could become someone who exercised habitually, I should be able to write regularly too. A writing routine should be easier even. I LIKE to write after all. Don’t I?
So I did a lot of thinking about how I got to where I am with my exercise and decided to use those ideas to get a writing routine down. What is working for me so far:
- My exercise bike keeps track of my daily streak, and makes a fuss about milestones. So I’m trying to keep a writing streak going. Even if I can only manage a sentence, it will count.
- I plan the day before when I will write and what project I’m going to work on: my fiction, my staff newsletter for the day job, a writing exercise, or something else.
- I’m generous about what counts as writing. As above, if I’m exhausted and can only manage a few minutes, that’s okay. Over time I will try to extend this. I love reading books and listening to podcasts about writing, but those don’t count on their own. If I do a writing exercise with it, THAT can count. Editing might be time reading my own story and making some notes. That counts.
- The biggie I think is deciding inside myself that this would matter. The streak would matter. The often tiny little pockets of time would matter. It was all important. I’ve found myself bopping around doing whatever in an evening and thought, “Ah! Look at the time, I better do my writing before it gets any later!” Then I do. I used to look and think, “It’s already so late, I’ll try to write tomorrow.” The mental shift is huge for me.
I’m only 18 days in. Nowhere near what the habit experts say you need to make something a habit, but it’s so, so much more that I had been doing that I’m proud, and excited that I believe this will stick. Some day eventually though, I’ll break my streak. I’ve done that with my exercise. Not only was I tired, but I had a pounding headache, or hurt my back or something and pushing though would have been worse than taking a break to rest. Resting is okay. Resting is good sometimes. But I hope with writing, as with exercise for me, it will be the exception, not the normal state of things.
If you have a writing routine that works for you, or for any good habit you’ve created for yourself, please share in the comments!