Words like structure and discipline and habits tend to scare writers. As creative people, we think that having habits or structure in our lives (or stories) will ruin the creativity and freedom that we love.
We’re afraid we’ll be stifled or that we’ll lose that creative spark we’re used to having.
I know because I used to feel the exact same way. I avoided being disciplined or creating habits for most of my life.
And so my habits and discipline was created by default. Because your habits are just the things you do on a daily basis.
For many years, without meaning to, I’d created habits like watching TV for hours at night, and ignoring my writing, and making everything else more important than creating. The funny thing is, I had discipline. It was just around stuff like watching TV at the same time every night.
And yet when I’d hear the words discipline or habits, I’d immediately feel like my creativity would be zapped. How ridiculous is that?!
Because when you use your creativity and do your writing on a consistent basis, you actually become MORE creative and you become a BETTER writer. Crazy, right?
The truth is habits and discipline actually create the freedom that us writers and creators so deeply desire to have in our lives. And they make you better at whatever it is you’re doing.
My writing has improved significantly over the past decade as I’ve been freelance writing and blogging and writing fiction and nonfiction books. But it wasn’t until the last couple years when I’ve realized how much easier and more in flow things can be in my creative life when I’m consistent and when I commit to creating discipline and habits that support me.
‘Cause here’s the thing—your habits can either support your success or they can be your demise.
For years my habits were actually causing me to be stuck in doubt, fear, procrastination, Resistance and excuses. I never really felt clear on anything and I constantly felt like I didn’t know enough (even though I knew plenty).
Not exactly the best motivation for my writing and creating.
But over the last couple years, I’ve discovered that clarity comes from taking action. It comes from doing the work and trying things out. (When you’re unclear, the worst thing you can do is sit there wallowing in it.)
If I’m feeling unclear on something, I know that if I just take some action, in a few days or a few weeks, I’ll start to see clarity.
So a really important question that I ask myself on a monthly basis now is: what habits do I need to install that will support my goals for 2017?
A lot of times I’m coming back to the same things: food, fitness, doing the writing first things first, etc. And since I come back to the same things, I find myself slowly but surely making progress on building the habits that I want to have.
The problem is that we’ve been programmed for so long with such bad habits and beliefs and thoughts that actually go against the things we want for ourselves, that it’s hard to make changes.
I tried to make a major diet change last month. It was pretty disastrous and after 17 days I totally fell off track.
But I had the opportunity to see and feel what my life and energy and body would be like if I did live that lifestyle on a consistent basis. And that changed everything for me.
Because now I know what I want and I’m very clear on what it’s gonna take to get there.
I’m still not back where I was last month food-wise and fitness-wise, but I’m slowly moving in that direction again, building up new habits and uninstalling the old ones. It’s a process, but it’s totally worth it.
And the thing that really helped me to make these changes and start creating these new habits is recognizing that habits are just the things you do every day.
If you do something every single day, that means you have consistency, and consistency is what creates a habit. Doesn’t matter what the thing is, if you do it every day, it’s a habit.
When I started to look at things from that angle, it gave me a whole new perspective on creating the habits that I wanted to have. I just needed to start doing those things I wanted to be doing—working on my fiction, blogging, eating healthy and moving my body—every single day. And if I did that consistently, eventually I’d have a habit around all of it.
So that’s what I’ve been doing for the last few months, creating new habits that support my goals and my dream life. It’s been an interesting experiment so far, but I’m enjoying it, even the hard parts. Because I know what’s on the other side if I just keep going.
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Now I turn that question to you: what habits do you need to install that will support your goals for 2017 (and beyond)?
Building a habit just means doing something every single day (or on most day). If you want to build a habit of writing, you just have to write every day.
Write with a purpose, live with intention,
P.S. If you want a really easy way to build—or continue building—that habit in your writing life, I’d love for you to join me for FINISH Your Damn Novel: 30 days of kick-ass motivation, inspiration and getting-writing-done for writers who’ve started a novel and want to finish.
I’ll be motivating, inspiring and empowering you to work on your novel draft (or revision) every single day for 30 days. Not only will I be working on and finishing my novel revisions along with you, but I’ll be sending you daily emails and doing livestreams throughout the week in the private workshop Facebook group that will help you stay motivated, create consistency and build a habit of getting words on the page.
Your creativity will soar. You’ll finally have ideas and inspiration flowing every day. And you’ll have finished your novel draft or revision.
How kick-ass would it be to have your novel draft or revision finished by May 1?!
That gives you plenty of time to hire an editor and Beta Readers, do a final polish and then get that sucker out into the world THIS YEAR so you can start on your next one.
We hit the ground running on April 1!!