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This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss building your writing habit via automation….
Do you have a habit that encourages you to write? I think about writing habits all the time, encouraging my clients to develop them and reinforcing my own whenever possible.
My favourite writing habit sees me producing my Tuesday blog post a full week in advance, every Tuesday afternoon. How do I manage that?
The habit started many years ago when a colleague and I would call each other every Thursday to have a check in. Following a brief conversation, we hang up and go and work on our writing projects for one full hour. I always worked on my Tuesday blog post. After the hour, we’d call each other back for a lengthier chat to reward each other for our progress.
The system worked like a charm. When I needed to end the weekly call, as the result of change to my schedule, I looked at my calendar and identified another writing day. Tuesdays. Even though my friend was unable to meet on that day, my habit was so nailed down that I’ve never missed it.
While I don’t tend to gravitate toward social media myself (I’m more of an email junkie) I thought Clear’s strategy for controlling his habit was brilliant. Here’s what he said he did:
“Every Monday, my assistant would reset the passwords on all my social media accounts, which logged me out on each device. All week I worked without distraction. On Friday, she would send me the new passwords. I had the entire weekend to enjoy what social media had to offer until Monday morning when she would do it again. (If you don’t have an assistant, team up with a friend or family member and reset each other’s passwords each week.)
“One of the biggest surprises was how quickly I adapted.
“Within the first week of locking myself out of social media, I realized that I didn’t need to check it nearly as often as I had been, and I certainly didn’t need it each day. It had simply been so easy that it had become the default. Once my bad habit became impossible, I discovered that I did actually have the motivation to work on more meaningful tasks.”
If you have difficulty controlling your social media habit, I suggest you follow the example of James Clear.
An earlier version of this post first appeared on my blog on Oct. 15/18.