Scott Young on how to build habits

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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 a blog post written by Scott Young…

I’m obsessed with helping others build the writing habit. Such a habit allows requires them to write at least five days per week for at least five minutes (and, ideally, eventually, for more like 30.)

This writing should not feel burdensome or stressful. It should not even feel terribly difficult — after all, who can’t write a crappy first draft? As a result of my interest in this topic, I’m a bit like Sam Spade when it comes to anything that’s been written about habits. Charles Duhigg and The Power of Habit? Read. Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin. Read. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. Read. The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal. Read.

Recently, a blog post by Scott Young (pictured above) grabbed my interest because he too focused on the subject of habit. His perspective? How to build habits of moderation.

This issue is particularly useful for writers because many of us are distracted from our writing by the big distraction-monster sitting on all of our desks, our computers. As Scott points out, we can hardly invoke a “cold turkey” rule when it comes to the Internet. As writers, we often need to surf to be able to do our work.

Instead, he recommends using obstacles rather than barriers to the things that slow us down. For me, I am seldom tempted to spend more than 15 minutes cruising Facebook or Twitter (And I strictly limit myself to designated times of the day when I do this.)

But if you have problems with this kind of discipline, Scott suggests a free program called leech block. And, of course, there are others:

iNet Protector

Internet Access Controller

Net Balancer

Traffic Shaper XP

Stay Focused

Don’t let the Internet get in the way of your productivity. Instead, use it for the marvellous tool that it is.

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