Habit forming

Research shows that it takes about thirty days to break a bad habit or form a good one.  I can vouch for this, as my writing and my weight both cycle up and down.  When I’ve formed good habits and stick with ’em, my weight is healthier and I’m more productive at my desk.  But when those habits have been interrupted – even for good reason such as a vacation – watch out!  Usually, I can get back into the swing of things if it’s only been a day or two.

When I don’t nip bad behavior – eating too many sweets, reading mind candy instead of working – in the bud,I start slip-sliding down the path of good intentions.  And we know where that leads.  H-E-Double hockey sticks, as Grandma used to say.  Not the lake of fire nor Dante’s chill circle of ice, but the vicious cycle of “just one more.”  Just another minute, and then I’ll…

As we know, writing is work.  Often hard work – but oddly enough, once we’re habituated to it, it becomes, well, more pleasant, if not easier.  So far, I’ve done what I need to do mentally.  I’ve set my intention: “I will write today.”  My rear is in gear: my derriere is in its ergonomic red seat.  I know what needs doing:

  • Create scene map
  • Draft new or revised scenes
  • Draft query letter
  • Rewrite synopsis
  • Prepare SCBWI Work-In-Progress Grant application

Not necessarily in that order, mind you.  I can’t complain about the workmen jackhammering in the street outside today.  (Or use them as an excuse.)  I’ve done all the errands, chores, and must-dos that I planned for today. (And tomorrow’s will wait.)  So why am I not breaking the bad cycle and starting a new one?

Oh, that’s right.  I am.  I promised myself I would keep to my once per week posting schedule, and voila!  A post is written, despite my mental moaning that I’ve nothing to write about.  Well, if I can achieve that, I guess I can achieve at least one of the above tasks.  That would mean I’d worked on my writing three times this week.  More than I’ve exercised!

DREAM, DETERMINE, ACHIEVE.  I have dreamed about getting my novel published.  I have determined what needs to be done to make that happen.  I will achieve at least one of my writing tasks today.  And tomorrow, I’m getting up, getting my cup of tea just like Kate DiCamillo, and sitting down to re-form my writing habit.

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6 thoughts on “Habit forming

  1. Leslie, I knew it was your blog just from the subject line 🙂

    I agree with the “just one more” issue since I struggle with it myself—with almost EVERYthing *sigh*

    And I’m glad you put Kate’s link there (she’s SO nice, too) ’cause on her page there was a link to the book trailer for THE CHRONICLES OF HARRIS BURDICK (I’m a huge fan of the “Harris Burdick” books and my question to her at the conference was about her story for that). The trailer was GREAT! As is the book 😀

      1. Leslie, I just wanted to say how nice it was to see your name in the SCBWI National Bulletin for “Nina and Meana” 🙂 I really never take the time to look at the “People” or “Publisher’s Corner” sections (I barely have time to read the articles), but I did this time and remembered you mentioning you got that published 🙂 Yay!

  2. I think daily habits are the best. (I say “think” because I can’t personally testify to having kept one…) I think you even inspired me to commit to pure writing 20 minutes a day. If I force myself to do it daily hopefully it won’t be a chore in a few days and will just happen. Plus it’s enjoyable- so why is it sometimes so hard to do?!

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