You may have heard that it takes 3 weeks, or 8 weeks, or any number of weeks to form a new habit. Well, there is no strict formula for every action. How long it takes for the action to become so hardwired into your brain that you can start without expending any will power is affected by three factors:
1. How difficult the habit is.
2. How often you do it.
3. How much it clashes with your old habits.
Therefore, while making writing a habit has its difficulties there are steps you can take to make the process a whole lot easier.
To start off, you want to make the new action as easy as possible. It is much easier to train yourself to write for 15 mins a day and then train yourself to go from 15mins a day to 30 mins a day, than it is to go straight to trying to write an hour a day.
So play around and find the maximum amount of time you can write for wthat doesn’t scare the socks off you and make you want to hide under your blanket at the very thought. It may be even only five minutes to begin with. Just before going to sleep you will jot down all the ideas that have been going around in your head about your story. That’s okay, make that a habit. It’s much better than not even doing that. Then, once you have that down pat, you can try extending it.
Next, the more often you do it, the easier it is to form it as a habit. Research has found that in forming new habits the more faithful you are in performing the habit at the beginning, the easier it is for it to become automatic. (See BPS Research Digest: How to Form a Habit). Their advice is: try to do it every day, though missing one or two here and there won't hurt but don't let them add up.
Add to this thought our previous discussion on becoming an expert writer: you want to be knocking over hours and words so you build up your bank of practice. The more time you spend doing this, the faster you will become an expert!
Finally, are there ways to minimize how much it clashes with your old habits?
The first step is to look at your usually daily routine (your 'real' daily routine, not the one you hope you stick to) and find a place to slip it in where it won't be forcing you to give up too much just yet. Love your Deal or No Deal? Well then, put your writing time after that so you know you go straight from Deal to Writing, without feeling you've missed out.
Or my favourite, add it in somewhere instead of something you don’t like doing. Hate cleaning your house? Pay someone to do it and for that hour or so, sit down and write (but you can only not clean the house if you are writing). Though always check this with partners first, as they get a bit touchy if you give up doing all the chores to work on your masterpiece when they have to pick up the slack.
Anyone else have good tips on how to make writing everyday a habit?