7 steps to creating a new writing habit

writing centerAre you struggling to make writing a habit? Do you keep pushing it off until tomorrow? Too many times when we try to create a habit or a change in behavior, we try and create or change too much at once. Unfortunately this overreach is often not sustainable and we crash and burn in failure.

Fall is a great time to start fresh and focus on forming new behaviors. With the right steps to follow, along with determination and commitment, you can work to create a new writing habit that sticks.

Step 1: Focus on one habit only. This step is extremely important! When you focus on forming a single habit, versus multiple at a time, your likelihood of retaining that habit for a year or more is around 80 percent. Try forming even two habits at once and your success rate drops to as low as 20 percent.

Step 2: Define your goal—make it measurable! Just saying, “I want to write every day” is not enough. You need to make your goal measurable so that you can successfully track your progress (see step 5). Your goal can be word count or time based, whichever you believe to be more effective for you, it doesn’t matter.

Step 3: Acknowledge that this is a process. New habits take time to form. Research indicates it takes 21 days to form a simple habit, and longer to form an activity habit. There is no magic time-frame, you simply have to commit yourself to the process.

Step 4: Determine your trigger. Having a trigger will help you make sure your habit sticks. A trigger can be anything, like a specific time each day or a constant in your life that will provide consistency. Here’s a simple example: Every morning, regardless of the time, before anything else you sit and have a cup of coffee. Immediately following this “sit and have a cup of coffee” time, you then sit at your desk and write for an hour. Your trigger would be “I just had my cup of coffee.”

Step 5: Track your progress. This step is crucial. Not only will tracking your progress keep you accountable, it will help motivate you along the way. Plus, how will you know how far you’ve come if you don’t track your progress? Tracking should be done daily.

Step 6: Anticipate roadblocks. Another key to forming a habit is to know that roadblocks and challenges will arise that will try to steer you off course. Luckily, you anticipated these ahead of time and made an action plan for how to overcome them.

Step 7: Don’t get stuck on one missed day. Even if you plan for roadblocks and have strategies in place to overcome them, you still may slip and miss a day of writing. Don’t get bogged down in self-blame, this will only set you back further. Instead, forgive yourself and focus on tomorrow so that you don’t miss a second day in a row.

Now that you have the steps, what are you waiting for?  Best of luck and happy writing!