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How To Make Writing A Habit Using Rituals


by Jennifer on August 28, 2012

This is a guest post by Rich Furman

One of the principles of writing productivity that most writers, writing coaches, mentors and researchers believe in is the power of daily writing.

Simple statements such as, “writers write,” typify this sentiment. Yet, in spite of having this knowledge, many writers and aspiring writers struggle with achieving the consistency of daily writing.

There are many tools that have been suggested for helping achieve the practice of daily writing, from starting each day with writing, ending each day with writing, or putting writing into your calendar and making it an appointment with yourself.

For some, these work; for others, they may not make a significant difference.

Why These Tools Don’t Work For Everyone

Part of the reason these tools don’t work for everyone is that these scheduling methods do not change anything about you.

What you need is a method that helps make you need to write, and creates a negative internal consequence when you do not. In other words, you need your writing to take on the hallmarks of an addiction.

Do I mean that writing should make your life spin horribly out of control? Of course not. You need to make your writing into a positive addition, or a habituated behavior that is supported by environmental, psychological and biological stimuli.

When you engage in a positive addiction, you experience a sense of meaning. When you do not, you feel a sense of loss, and may actually experience biochemical changes, just like with a less positive addiction.

Sounds complex and time consuming perhaps, but its not difficult. One of the most powerful principles in addiction treatment is that rituals often support people’s compulsive behavior, and can be used in creating behavioral change. 

What you need is to create behavioral rituals that support a dependence on writing.

With drug addiction, or behavioral addictions like gambling, rituals set into motion powerful biopsychosocial triggers that compel one toward a substance or behavior. This is why creating rituals for yourself, simple habituated, routinized behaviors that you do prior to writing, can help you achieve the consistency you need.

Creating A Ritual of Writing

Writing rituals do not have to be elaborate and involved, but simple actions that signify that writing is about to occur. Sitting in the same chair, placing the same blanket over you legs, turning off your phone (a must), and sipping on the same kind of tea is an example of a ritual that one can engage in.

Done over time, these behavioral cues trigger the “readiness” to act, and create a movement toward action that almost has a compulsive quality.

If you are skeptical,  devise a simple ritual for yourself prior to writing. Do it each day for two weeks, and see if you cannot make writing your positive addiction.

What rituals do you use before you start writing?

About the Author: Rich Furman is a professor, writer, and academic writing coach and mentor. He is the author of ten books, 200 poems, and over a 100 academic articles. Please visit his blog on scholarly writing: http://writepublishthrive.blogspot.com/

Photo courtesy of Denise Krebs

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Amy Paulussen September 25, 2012 at 5:59 am

Scheduling works for me some of the time but, with two kids under the age of two, interruptions are far too common and I have to write in unscheduled times or every-day-practice would be impossible. I try to journal every morning – “morning pages” as preached by Julia Cameron – and often write a bit about my expectations for the day to come. I suspect this free writing helps to get me loosened up and ready to work on my novel, but also helps me to think of different times during the day where I will have writing opportunities. I’ve learned to snatch even short periods of time and get to work, even if I feel like I’m writing utter rubbish. Progress is progress and some days getting anything written at all feels like a major win. This high helps me to write the following day. And the following day. Now that the habit is formed it’s much easier to keep it up.

2 Http://Www.2Bscenesandym.Com January 14, 2013 at 7:16 pm

Hey there! Quick question that’s entirely off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My blog looks weird when browsing from my iphone. I’m
trying to find a theme or plugin that might be able to fix this issue.
If you have any suggestions, please share. Thanks!

3 Jennifer January 15, 2013 at 1:08 pm

I personally use WPTouch for mobile theme because it works with so many different smart phones.

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