75 Day Writing Challenge: Habits

Last night, after I ate dinner, I mindlessly went to sit on the couch and pick up my IPad. I had to consciously stop myself and make myself turn around. I realized that sitting on the couch after dinner and playing a game or reading on my IPad has become a habit, an automatic behavior that I no longer question. By consciously making the decision to sit down at the table and work on my writing, I made one small change in my routine.

According to James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, small changes like the one I made can lead to bigger changes down the road: “The difference a tiny improvement can make over time is astounding. Here’s how the math works out: if you can get 1 percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done. Conversely, if you get 1 percent worse each day for one year, you’ll decline nearly down to zero. What starts as a small win or a minor setback accumulates into something much more” (p. 15). That’s the benefit of doing a challenge like 75 Hard or my own personalized challenge. Challenges like these call for you to make small changes to your life and follow them long enough to make them stick. I have seen differing estimations for how long it takes to form a habit. Some books I have read say that you can form a new habit in as little as 14 days while others say that forming a habit can take as long as four to six weeks. I think the length of time varies so much, because each person is unique and has their own way of thinking and behaving. Some of us may be able to change our habits in a relatively short amount of time while others may take longer. I am hoping that by the end of my 75 day challenge I will have made writing a habit that sticks.

Today, I completed the following tasks…

  1. Wrote for 30 minutes
  2. Read Scrappy Rough Draft for 30 minutes
  3. Read Chapter 4 of Sins of the Father and completed Revision Notes
  4. Read Magical Midlife Love for 30 minutes
  5. Wrote this blog post

75 Day Writing Challenge: The Honeymoon Period

Whenever I start something new, there is always a honeymoon period at the beginning. Whether it’s a new diet, exercise routine, or a writing project, I enjoy the novelty of the new activity and give it 100% until, suddenly, after a couple of weeks, it starts to feel more like work than play. I get tired of slogging through the lessons or following the routine. I start to skip a day or two. I think to myself, It’s just one day. I just need a little break. I’ll get back to it in a little while. Before I know it a couple of days become several and a little while turns into never.

One of the reasons I chose to pursue this 75 Day Challenge was to confront this tendency I have to give up on things when they lose their glitter and turn into drudgery. I want to teach myself that I can stick with my goals even when they get hard or I get bored–that it’s worth the effort I put into it. While this challenge is focused on my writing, I am hoping that the discipline I develop from this challenge will help me fulfill other goals in my life, like losing weight and getting into shape or finally organizing my house.

During the pandemic, I’ve heard a lot of messages that I need to be kind to myself and I need to forgive myself for my mistakes. Sometimes, though, being kind to myself really means that I am making excuses for not following through on something I have committed to doing. Today, for example, I got to work at 7:15 and worked until 5:00. I could have told myself that since I had worked so long I didn’t have to go home and work on my writing challenge. It was understandable that I wouldn’t be able to complete all the tasks I had set for myself. I didn’t do that, though. After dinner, I helped my son with his homework and then I got to work. I really wanted to sit on the couch and play a game on my IPad, but instead I sat at the dining room table and worked on revising my novel. Maybe, I was able to fight off my fatigue because this process is still novel and fun. Whatever the reason, I was able to stay committed and finish Day 3 of my challenge.

Today, I completed the following tasks:

  1. I wrote for 30 minutes.
  2. I read Scrappy Rough Draft for 30 minutes.
  3. I began reading the rough draft of my finished novel.
  4. I read for 30 minutes.
  5. I wrote this blog post.