In my previous post, I mentioned I found James Clear’s book Atomic Habits to be helpful for writers. I didn’t, however, mention specifically how I found it helpful. While I could probably list a dozen ways the book provided ways to incorporate the writing discipline into my life, I’m just going to list four for now:
Clear talks about four “laws” in Atomic Habits. and the first one is make it obvious. Part of this law is to designing your environment. For me, means providing cues to make the writing habit obvious and visible. I have my laptop on my kitchen table instead of in one of my back rooms. I spend more time in the kitchen and it’s right there. As a result, I’m more likely to write when I get home from work, because the laptop is in front of me and I’m less likely to forget about getting in my writing.
The second law is make it attractive. Part of this law is to make the habit you want to perform attractive. To do this, I have a motivation ritual. My ritual is to turn on some instrumental music in the background–no human voices, just instruments. This gets me in the mindset to write. Sometimes I even use Spotify to play coffeehouse setting sounds, because I like to write in coffeehouses. This helps me on the days I can’t get out.
The third law is make it easy. I’m more likely to develop a habit if I start off keeping it simple and effortless. Clear suggests doing the habit for only two minutes. This is the “two-minute rule.” For writing, this is a no-brainer. Write for only two minutes. Then, the next day write for only two minutes. Of course, I always end up writing for more than two minutes, but I’m not obligated to. It works like a charm.
And finally, the fourth rule is make it satisfying. Most people find it rewarding and encouraging to keep track of their habits on some kind of chart. It’s motivational. I keep track of my writing progress with my scratch pad method. I can see the dates I’ve written at a glance and that tells me I’m making progress. Find whatever method works for you, whether that’s using a calendar or a chart of some kind.
I have found many more concepts from Atomic Habits helpful for my writing and other areas of my life than the ones mentioned above. I recommend the book if you think that’s your thing. If you do, let me know how it’s helped you.
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