Changing Desires Into Habits

Is writing a habit or a desire for you?

Let’s be sure we distinguish the difference between the two:

A habit is something we do as a regular tendency or practice. Almost without thinking about it, we just do it.

A desire is a strong wish or want. Thus, it IS thought about—sometimes thought about A LOT—but it may, or may not, actually happen. And certainly doesn’t happen on its own, without effort on our part.

So, just what does it take to move writing out of the desire category and form it into a habit?

Glad you asked.

They say to form a habit, it takes breaking the old habit and replacing it with a new habit.

That takes, according to Dr. Maxwell Maltz, author of Psycho-Cybernetics, a minimum of 21 days for the old image in our brains to disappear.

Then, according to Phillippa Lally, University of London researcher, it takes from 66 to 500 days for a new behavior to become automatic.

Let’s see. That comes out to be a total of 3-18 months for the entire process.

It may seem easier for you to keep writing in the desire category than spend the time necessary to build writing as a habit, but…

are you really content with a life filled with only desires???

A life as a non-writer?

A life as a dreamer of dreams, but with no dreams realized?

Be honest. Because this is where the rubber meets the road…where the pen meets the paper, isn’t it?

This is a new year. Honor yourself by taking those dreams of being a writer and acting on them.

Realize them this year by forming the habit of writing.

Make a reasonable writing plan.

Reaffirm your plan every day by sticking to it.

Re-evaluate your plan on a quarterly basis (at the very least).

Recognize that you may need help: from “how-to” books, conferences, pep-talks from other writers, a mentor, and so on.

If you will do this, next January you should be able to say “I AM A WRITER!”

Get that? NOT “I desire to be a writer,” but instead you’ll enjoy the fact that you will have formed the habit of writing.

Actors, ice-skaters, gymnasts, singers, magicians…they ALL had to form habits of being what they desired to be.

Writers are no different.

We have to replace the old habits of watching too much television or taking long afternoon naps or shopping  too often and replace them with actively writing every day or we will NOT meet the goal.

So, let me ask you again:

Is writing just a desire for you? Or are you willing to do what it takes to make it a habit?


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