The number one reason habits fail is because we make them too hard.
You can’t go zero to hero and build writing habits that stick
Good writing habits can be hard to form.
They are uncomfortable, can feel like they’re taking away from things we like, and we might not see the benefits of what we do today for some time.
The solution is to make them so easy you can’t help but succeed.
When you’re done writing for the day, take out a post-it note.
Write down the next line you plan to type into your book.
Stick it to your keyboard as a reminder to write first, before doing other stuff that will steal your writing time.
Think that act is too easy?
Well, maybe that’s a good place to start then.
Do this for 21 days or so, and there’s a good chance you’ll have written more than you would have without the simple reminder.
Harder isn’t better
Look, you can make habits harder later, but right now we need some successes under our belts.
When forming new habits, we need to feel tiny successes — and all the little dopamine hits that go with it — often just to keep going.
So, when you decide to start building a new habit, don’t look way down the road at the ultimate result. Look first to the first step you’re going to take, then to the next, and the next, and so on.
Keep up those steps, and one day you’ll look back and see how far you’ve come.
A few notes about building habits that stick
Try one new habit at a time.
If it’s easy, then it’s okay to add a second easy one after one week.
Repeat, but if it’s too much, too soon, pause the latest ones so the early ones can succeed.
Remember, not all habits show off their benefits immediately.
No one feels a vitamin pill working, after all. Sometimes you have to give them time to do their work or for you to get used to them.
Have confidence it will work, or find one you believe in, instead.
Remember, you don’t have to be perfect, but…
It does help to be consistent for the first 21-30 days of a new habit.
Once your habit is formed, build in some breaks, so a day off doesn’t feel like a failure.
Never kick yourself for messing up.
The difference between 90% and 100% is insignificant in your long-term results.
5 foolproof habits you can start today to improve your writing life
1. Reverse Pomodoro
A lot of authors cringe when I suggest the Pomodoro technique, but my Reverse Pomodoro shouldn’t have the cringe factor.
Instead of going 25 minutes with something you want to do, like writing, start with something that you want to stop after 25 minutes, like Facebook scrolling.
Set a timer for 25 minutes, really enjoy your Facebook time, and when the bell rings, take your 5 minute break and move onto some real work.
Once you feel good about doing these Reverse Pomodoros, try doing more of them for other things you need to stop, like doomscrolling the news, Twitter, or YouTube videos.
2. Word sprint
You’ve tried it before, but it didn’t stick, so go easier on yourself this time by starting with just ten minutes.
Write anything, even if it’s just the gist of what you plan to write today.
How meta, right?
Add a minute each day until you’re at 30 minutes.
If it’s working for you, keep this up for 5 days per week for a while.
If you like it, consider adding another sprint session and see how that feels.
3. Go outside
Get out there as soon as the sun is up. It doesn’t have to be out, just up.
Spend 5-15 minutes out there, doing whatever.
This helps reset your circadian rhythms, so you’ll work better and sleep deeper that night.
Once you feel good about this, and have done it for at least a week, add a similar outside time in the late afternoon, when the sun is getting low.
This tells your brain where you are in the day, and will help you transition into the evening, and (again) better sleep.
4. Take fish oil
If you have brain fog, writer’s block, or aches, pains, or other chronic stuff, you need a good omega-3 balance.
Take a fish oil supplement daily.
Alternately, you can eat 2-3 servings of fatty fish, like salmon, every week.
Mixing and matching is okay, but get your omega-3s.
EPA and DHA, the omega-3s from fish, krill, or algae reduce inflammation, making you feel better in the body and the brain.
5. Schedule screwing off
Yes, schedule your social media time, gaming, and Netflix.
And then TAKE THE TIME.
Seriously, put it on your calendar and take the time for yourself.
Giving yourself permission to play, even when you ‘need to be writing’ is critical for your morale today and long term.
You don’t need to feel guilty if it’s in your plan.
You don’t need to feel guilty, period, but I’m not your therapist.
I’m just here to coach you to write more.
These are just a few examples
I hope I’ve given you some ideas on where to start, and how easy to make your first steps.
Happy habit building, and enjoy your writing!
Want to learn exactly the steps to build writing habits that stick?
I created a printable poster and checklist to help you build author habits that will stick, and let you write all you want to write.
You can get it here or at the link below!