Rebuilding Habits

Recent weeks and months have brought with it the steady decline of my writing habits. I’ve thought periodically as to why that is the case and while there are many reasons why, getting back into the habit of daily writing activities is more important. The thing is, whether it be writing blog posts for here or building within the fictional worlds I’ve created, I need to be taking part in these activities every day. Yet I haven’t. Again. I fell off the wagon and haven’t even bothered to get up. Then I realized I needed an incentive.

The thing is, punishment is my go-to for dealing with the failings of my writing. Miss a day? Don’t like what I wrote? Pick another activity to avoid writing? Each of these results in my belittling myself, in allowing anxiety and fear to further justify its own existence. Of course, the pair of them will always be present. I simply need to tame them.

Lessons from The War of Art by Steven Pressfield still ring inside my head, but regardless of how much I want to, I cannot get the necessary actions underway to even start. Basically, I am failing to start to start. Ritual and habits remain elusive.

I remembered something else, though. There’s this thing called reward. (Well, in fairness there were a couple of articles by people like Nir Eyal that reminded me…) Rather than punish myself continually for my writing transgressions, why not reward myself for getting things right? Forgo the punishments altogether and focus only on the rewards — will this work?

Well, punishment hasn’t worked. If anything, punishment has only deepened the hole in which I found myself. It compels me to dig deeper rather than climb out. That’s a problem. And when digging a hole, the best advice one can get is to stop fucking digging.

At one time I did try the reward thing. I held for a period of time that I could play video games, but only after hitting a word count. This wasn’t as effective as I’d like because I am not always interested in playing video games. I need something better, something more able to encourage me to write. The problem now is what that is.

I’ll have to think about this for the next few days. I want to make it something that will really work — like getting to have a beer at the end of the day if I write (but of course not something that encourages alcoholism or something similar). Or maybe I get to celebrate once a week if I get all the prior week’s work done. Who knows? Again, I’ll have to think about it and then experiment to see what works.

Either way, it is time I break the cycle of allowing fear and anxiety to get their way in punishing me for when I don’t get what I want done. It’s time to change for the better.

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