21 Days to a New Habit

19 Dec

How many of you NaNoWriMo winners have continued to crank out 2,000 words a day since December 1st? 1,000 words? 500 words? Threw the computer out the window and swore never again would my fingers touch a keyboard? If you have continued to write every day since 12/1, regardless of the word count, your are ahead of the curve.

Two grand a day is a lot of flippin words. Especially for someone with a full-time job or with several kids in the house. I’m not sure I could do it for a week, let alone a month. My hat goes off to you who did it. But, the real takeaway as I see it, is if you wrote every day for thirty days, you created a habit. Whether you want to believe it or not, you did. The experts say it takes twenty-one days to create or break a habit. Even if you did not reach the ultimate 50,000 words, you sat down and wrote something every day for thirty days.

So…since you went to all that work to create a habit, are you going to let yourself slip back into your past self?

I realize that, with my snail’s pace typing skills and my need to pay the bills and keep my wife smiling, I will not create 2,000 words a day anytime soon. However, I am three days away from creating a habit of writing every day, averaging 500 words a day, and moving my WIP forward in the process. The plan is to continue this habit going forward. I keep finding ways to put writing off and then I kick myself in the butt and go to the keyboard.

Creating the habit is the tough part. Forcing yourself to do it no matter what takes sadistic discipline with masochistic tendencies. Those of you reading “50 Shades of Whatever” can jump in here. Once you reach the 21 day mark, you have dealt with the majority of obstacles that might come your way. Why stop?

I will see if I can finish creating a writing habit and maintain it.  I will comment once in a while on my progress.

My question for you is this. If you created the Writing Habit and let it get away, why?


Posted by on December 19, 2012 in Thoughts on Writing


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10 responses to “21 Days to a New Habit

  1. robincoyle

    December 19, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    I was in the habit of working on my WIP everyday until life got in the way. Now that things have calmed down, I STILL haven’t worked on it. Habits are hard to establish and easy to break. Except for the vices.

    • Dennis Langley

      December 20, 2012 at 8:32 am

      I hear you there. Once you break a good habit, it seems harder to get back on the right road. Keep trying though.

      • robincoyle

        December 20, 2012 at 1:02 pm

        My New Year’s resolution is to get back to writing in earnest.

      • Dennis Langley

        December 20, 2012 at 1:53 pm

        Good for you. I hope that is one resolution you keep.

  2. Matthew Wright

    December 20, 2012 at 1:02 am

    Writing every day is the key! Quantity – less so. I’m a firm believer that what counts isn’t the number of words, it’s the quality of the written output. Which arrives, almost by itself, from that daily writing habit.

    • Dennis Langley

      December 20, 2012 at 8:36 am

      I am finding that out. I started a mini challenge of 500 a day, on Dec. 1 and cannot believe the progress I’ve made in a couple weeks. Each day I write makes the ideas, dialogue, and character arcs come easier.

  3. Chris Edgar

    December 20, 2012 at 1:04 am

    Hmm, it would be interesting to do a NaSoWriMo (i.e., devote a month to songwriting), in which I was required to write a certain number of songs per month. Or maybe write an entire musical in a month. Anyway, it occurs to me that the possibilities are limitless for applying this in the music context.

  4. Dennis Langley

    December 20, 2012 at 8:38 am

    I can certainly see the correlation. I have never tried to compose a song but the exercise makes sense. The object is to create the habit and then stick to it.

  5. 4amWriter

    December 22, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    Great point, Dennis. I knew about the 21 days to make/break a habit, but I never applied it to writing. I guess because I typically don’t have trouble getting back into the swing of writing if I ever had to forego it for one reason or another. However, there are times when thinking I have to get back to my *novel* is more daunting than getting back to my *writing*. So, I’ll be sure to keep this in mind if I ever start to feel overwhelmed.

  6. Dennis Langley

    December 27, 2012 at 8:55 am

    Well I made it 18 days before the wheels came off. The holidays got to me and I fell out of the habit just as I was almost there. Now I have to start over and try to catch up on my FAD Challenge. that’s okay though as January is slower than December and some time off dedicated to writing is in the near future.


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