At the start of the month, I wrote out a habit plan inspired by one of my favourite books, Zen Habits: Mastering the Art of Change. The goal was to develop a daily writing habit of 750 – 800 words.
To make the habit simple to begin with, I reduced the core habit to: write for 10 minutes a day.
I then picked a time and a trigger: 6:50am – 7:00am, as soon as I wake up.
I recorded my results each day in my journal, writing down any reasons why I failed if I did. The idea was to understand why I failed and change my approach so I did not fail again.
To put it bluntly, I failed. I only wrote for 5 out of 31 days.
I didn’t get up once to write in the morning. Straight away I found my mornings too rushed to carve out even 10 minutes to write.
I did manage to write for 5 days in a row, which is more than I had done before I tried the habit. Part of this success completing my core habit on some days, rather than the full habit. Even then, I found those days difficult as I was never satisfied with the core habit, it felt like a cop-out.
I particularly struggled when I had guests staying overnight as I would go out or drink and then not want to write. On these days, I should have excused myself for ten minutes and relied on the core habit.
Once I’d missed a day, I soon started to miss more as breaking the chain of success seemed to put me in a bad mood. Rather than celebrate only missing one day, I gave up.
Finally, I struggled because I didn’t like what I was writing. I felt out of practice at writing fiction and hated a lot of what I typed. I know that’s normal, bit I usually dislike my writing when I edit, so this was new to me.
What I Learned
I learned some valuable lessons trying to start this new habit:
- I am not good in the mornings. I don’t get up early enough to write
- I put too much pressure on myself to complete the full habit
- I need to be ok with missing a day and recovering the next day
I’m trying the same habit again in February. I’ll put what I’ve learned into practice and report again in a month.