In Day 1 of The Organized Pen, I asked...
What achievement are you proudest of?
What skills did you have to learn?
How long did you take to achieve it?
We’ll come back to your answers to these questions because it’s important to remember you’ve overcome, persevered, and achieved things before and you can do it again (and again). However, today, Day 6, I want to talk about your INTERNAL SUPPORT and setting up to show up (aka building a habit).
Creating a writing habit or ritual is internal support that can jumpstart your writing journey.
Visualize yourself writing. See yourself writing at your most consistent. Now, play that vision backwards a bit to when you sat down to write. Now roll it back a bit more. What were you doing just before you sat down?
What were you wearing? What were you listening to? Where were you? What were you doing?
Now roll back a bit more. What were you doing just before that?
I want you to capture the CUE that indicated you were getting ready to write. Building a habit of the CUE can set you up to show up for writing. It can also take the pressure off getting your writing time in. Because the habit you’re building is the cue to write, not the writing itself. The writing just happens to follow.
The CUE is 100% in our hands. It’s small. It’s easy. The writing is iffy. Some days, the writing is easy and flows from our fingertips; other days we may have to celebrate just a sentence.
Building a habit around the CUE made the difference for me this time. For the past three years, I’ve been saying I’m going to write my next book. Once in a while I enjoyed a writing streak which might have lasted a full week. But it wasn’t what I envisioned as being a writer.
I know sometimes you have to talk about it a long time before you take action, but goodness — I’m an organizer. I’m a writer. I’m a book coach. If I can’t get my own writing journey moving forward, how can I help others? (Or so the tiny, nagging, judgmental voice whispered.)
But that’s the beauty of challenges. Facing them, overcoming them, and moving beyond them is great inspiration for blogs, newsletters, and aha moments to share with clients and friends.
I was reading the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. He wrote about building the cue, craving, response, reward model of habits. His habit loop was strongly influenced by The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, which I had read years ago. I routinely work with my clients to build habits associated with things they’re already doing (a built-in cue or trigger). But sometimes I implement one thing but don’t apply it to other areas in my life. However, this time the switch flipped, the light came on, and a habit was created.
I realized I was struggling to build a writing habit because I kept focusing on writing. Once I thought to apply this model and identify the four parts for the activity I wanted to turn into a habit, it worked like a charm.
My CUE is getting my morning coffee
My CRAVING is to call myself a writer because I write
My RESPONSE is to get my iPad out
My REWARD is words on the screen and tracking my word count
See, the habit isn’t writing; the habit is getting my iPad out because my morning coffee cues me to do it. That habit is painless. Since I have my iPad out, I start writing. I win regardless of how the writing is going. I win every time I get my iPad set up.
I set up to show up.
When I don’t have time for a morning coffee, I don’t beat myself up. I’m pretty sure that unless I’m unconscious tomorrow, I will have a morning coffee, followed by coffee on the next day and the next, even if I didn’t get it today. I’ve built my writing around a cue that is consistent. My writing follows that consistency with some great writing days, some bad writing days, but mostly okay days that move me forward.
What’s your cue to set up to show up? Build your habit so that writing naturally follows.
I’m curious to find out what helps you set up to show up. Let me know.
Useful Books on Building Habits
These are Amazon* links, but you can check them out from your local library or buy them from your local bookstore.
*I receive $ from Amazon when you click on product links and purchase items from Amazon. I don’t know what you look at or buy and so far, I’ve been able to buy, on average, 3 cups of coffee each year from the income.