habit forming

as i stood there, gravity forcing me to the side, and the guy next to me politely and discreetly offering his shoulder for balance, i couldn’t help but think, “how’d i becoming one of those unbalanced, newbie T riders?”

the truth of the matter is i don’t ride the T much anymore. i live and work on the same side of the river thus removing my need for daily subway rides and turning me into an uneasy rider. i can’t seem to remember when to bend my knees, when to lean against the curve vs. when to lean into it, all of which used to be second nature. back in the day, i could listen to my ipod and read a book and still remain solidly in place, but now because of disuse my T riding habits have gotten rusty.

which left me thinking about my writing habits… previously, i was only writing when the mood struck, not when the word count needed to be up, but since i’m now in the “disaster draft” stage of writing (as coined by bria quinlan), i need to be writing as often as i can.

i’m working hard to develop habits that resemble a professional.

even though i have been writing more regularly, it’s important to remember that just because i’m setting up these habits now, it doesn’t excuse me from hard work. even if it’s only 400 words a night, it’s reinforcing that pattern of sitting my butt in the chair and writing. i’d rather my joints get rusty from sitting too long than my words from non-use.

another way to make sure habits take hold is accountability.

one way is to have write-ins with friends. another way is to announce my goals on twitter because the twitterati always and randomly show up to support and challenge me. it’s that whole team mentality. it’s easier for me to get something done if i know there’s a deadline, but self-imposed deadlines (which are all i have right now) only work so well.

the solution is that i’m training myself to be more open about my actions so that the proper people (or improper if the case may be) can offer support and guidance and cheerleading.

and i’ll continue to hope that when life (or the T) takes an unexpected turn and my good habits take a nose dive, there will be a shoulder to lean on (thanks, random guy on the T) or someone to calm the panic (thanks, bria) or the saying “old habits die hard” comes true.

how do you feel about habits — are there any that can be unlearned? re-learned? do you have any you wish you didn’t? any you wish you did?

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11 Responses to “habit forming”

  1. Adriana Kirilova Says:

    Oh, the T. Can’t live with it, can’t kill it :)

    Your post reminded me of part 3 of this post:

    http://tribalwriter.com/2011/03/15/how-to-get-out-of-your-own-way-and-quit-procrastinating-on-your-novel/

    The part about how you start by writing 5 words a day and eventually you’re into wring every day. I really should try it :) 5-word poems? That’s less than a haiku even :)

    It also reminded me of sth in NO PLOT? NO PROBLEM. I was at the bookstore yesterday and flipping through it again, to get in the mood. Chris Baty says the only thing you really need in order to finish a novel is a deadline. Perhaps you should reconsider NaNo. You can modify the challenge as you want, but you’ll be writing along with thousands of other people who all have the same deadline. Think about it :)

    • abby mumford Says:

      WHAT A RESPONSE! links and book suggestions, oh my! (and thank you. i love that post on how to stop procrastinating. i’d read it before, but it’s always worth a re-read.)

      and yes, i am considering doing a revised version of NaNo (again). i’m hoping my WIP will be at 25K by nov. 1, so i’ll have the rest of the month to finish the other half of it — or however long this disaster draft ends up. i do so love the idea of all these writers hustling towards the same deadline. it’s invigorating!

    • abby mumford Says:

      ooh, look at this (from the post: http://tribalwriter.com/2011/03/15/how-to-get-out-of-your-own-way-and-quit-procrastinating-on-your-novel/)…

      KAIZEN, the Japanese word for progress through tiny but steady improvements.

      that i can do. that i can master. look how worldly and writerly i am!

      • Adriana Kirilova Says:

        Kaizen! Pretty word. And it sounds so doable, doesn’t it? :)

        I think I first came across the procrastination post because you’d linked to it, so thank you! I have it bookmarked and reread it occasionally.

        Modified NaNo FTW! Yay! We can cheer each other on.

        Btw, I love that you’re calling it disaster draft! It seems like a very healthy approach — you know, the whole “give yourself permission to write crap” thing. If you refer to it as disaster draft, there’s less pressure to be perfect :)

        Oh, and yes, I love NO PLOT NO PROBLEM! I almost bought it. I might still buy it, even though I just requested it from the library again :)

        • abby mumford Says:

          kaizen has been added to my list of favorite words, which includes incognito and nap.

          i love the term “disaster draft.” it is very freeing and we all know i love me some alliteration.

          hip hip hooray for NaNo (modified for me, full for you).

  2. Linda G. Says:

    Kaizen? Cool word!

    I think there’s a lot to be said for forming habits. Ingrain them deeply enough and they’ll carry you through–on autopilot–the days when you’re sure you don’t have another word in you.

    *\o/* *\o/* *\o/* <–Cheerleaders for you. :)

    • abby mumford Says:

      you know i always appreciate your cheerleadering ways. and i’m more than happy to return the favor!!!

      *\o/* *\o/* *\o/*

  3. your garbage is a wonderland Says:

    I love those cheerleaders:*\o/* *\o/* *\o/* woooooooo

    Love this post, MOOmfy. Love that you’ve had that extra support–on the T (was the guy a hottie patottie?) and on the Twitter box and IRL–to push you to write more and often.

    I need to unlearn habits–cut down on tv, computer–and incorporate positive/inspiring/productive ones–go outside, paint my stupid paintings, maybe start journaling again, read more!

    • abby mumford Says:

      i am more than happy to shake my pom poms for you. just ask. (and i swear i don’t mean it in any sort of inappropriate way.)

      *\o/* *\o/* *\o/*

      i too am grateful for all the support i’ve been receiving. it’s also teaching me how to ask for it, which is way harder than i expected, but the support is much needed.

      also, BRAVO on the name today. he’s one of my favorites. okay, he’s not, but his lyrics are.

  4. Kelly Breakey (@kbreakey) Says:

    For me I have to write everyday. Even if it is just crap. Sometimes I sit down to one of my current WIP’s (notice I said one of them) and pound out something that resembles garbage and other days I am truly inspired. But I do it everyday. Sometimes I spend an hour, sometimes I spend ten. It just depends on how the writing moves me. But I don’t get up from the computer until I have done at least 1000 words. Sometimes that 1000 words doesn’t have anything to do with the story and everything to do with the back ground of my characters. When I am not motivated to move forward, sometimes I just go back and see where they have been. This works well for me especially if they have done something that didn’t really make all that much sense to me to begin with.

    Cheers!

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