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: A Hopeful Beginning

Starting a challenge like this is always daunting to me. In February, I downloaded a workout tracker. The names of the months were spelled out in bubble letters and the letters of the name were divided into segments to represent each day of the month. I was going to work out every day, but only worked out for one day before I gave it up. The tracker is still hanging on the fridge. It mocks me and reminds me of my failure. I worry that this challenge will go the same way. I will stick with it for a few days and then give it up.

The same obstacles that kept me from completing my workout tracker also threaten my writing challenge. I suffer from chronic pain which leads to fatigue. I work full time. When I get home in the evening, I help my son with his homework and have to cook dinner and do chores. This time, however, I am developing some strategies that will help me overcome these challenges.

First, I am looking at time differently. I realized that it is hard to sit down for two hours at a time to work on my challenge, but I can look for small amounts of free time. This semester, during lunch, I have been playing with my phone and streaming shows on my computer. Yesterday, I used that time to write my blog post. Today, I started writing the novel I am going to use for my Camp NaNoWriMo challenge. I also read a book on writing and completed a couple of exercises. On Tuesday evenings, my son attends his youth group so we usually eat out and he doesn’t work on homework. Usually, I sit on the couch and watch a show, but tonight I completed a plan for revising the rough draft of a novel a finished a couple of years ago. Then, I read for 30 minutes. While I wasn’t able to complete all five tasks I’ve set for myself on Day 1, I have to say Day 2 was a success. Here’s to a hopeful beginning.