Quarterly Column Archive
Take Baby Steps toward a Habit
If you keep meaning to start a writing habit and still haven't, maybe it's time to get serious. That doesn't mean you have to start big. Take small steps, aiming for small successes.
Try out the following two habits and then stick with the one that works best for you.
Use an egg timer, stop watch, or alarm clock. The first time you sit down to write, set it for 5 minutes. Then increase the number of minutes you write for by 5 minutes every day.
Work toward a specific goal, for example, writing for an hour five days a week.
This habit doesn't have any time constraint. You can write all your words in one or more sittings. Just be sure to reach your word limit by day's end. Start with 25 words. The next day, write 50. The next day, 100.
Keep doubling the number of words, working toward a specific goal, for example, a 1000-word story.
For additional fun, write exactly 25, 50, 100, etc., words. Why? Because you'll get the additional practice of revision.
When you plan to land on an exact number of words, some will have to go. Exact word counts are an exercise in concision.
Sticking with your habit
Once you've built up to a hefty number of minutes or words per day, keep your habit going by setting a firm aspiration, what it is you want to reach as a writer: a collection of short stories or poems or a novel or memoir.
When you feel yourself falling, remember this aspiration. It's important. Right? Yes, it is.