Building the Habit – Writing Regularly For 1 Year
I recently picked up “The Magic of Thinking Big.” I opened up David Schwartz’s book to a random page and ready: “Belief in success is the one basic, absolute essential ingredient of successful people. Believe, really believe you can succeed, and you will.”
I put the book aside and wondered to myself where I self-limit by believing there is something I can’t do.
I’ve been blogging irregularly since 2009, without a clarity of purpose, and without a clear voice in my writing. I am working on a book but am struggling because I don’t know how to communicate some of my important points. In the past few years I’ve developed the belief that I can’t build an audience as a blogger. A few minutes later I was resolute; I was going to change.
I had reached a decision. I was going to blog every week for a year to practice and in an effort to find my voice. Who knows, maybe while I am at it some folks will even be interested in reading what I write! I’m doing this as an experiment in getting over my belief that I can’t.
To begin I’ve compiled a couple of tools I’ll use to help out.
Tools of the Trade
Tiny Habits is run by BJ Fogg at the Stanford Persuasion Lab. This free, simple tool teaches the methodology for creating tiny, incremental habit changes in our lives. Each day for a week BJ sends out emails asking if participants have done their habit (y/n) and responds with celebration and advice.
I’m using several alarms systems right now, including on my iPhone, iCal, and within Evernote. I’ll be setting alarms and reminders to make sure I get some writing done.
Bird By Bird
When I don’t know what to do with writing I sit down with Anne Lamont and think of something. The best book on the psychology of writing I have ever read.
I’ll be composing rough drafts, as well as taking notes on my thoughts and process, in Evernote.
At the end of this project, if I have successfully written at least a 500 word post every week for an entire year, I will treat myself to a 2-week trip to somewhere in the world I want to visit. Right now I’m dreaming of a week in the arctic circle and another week sailing in the Caribbean. The locations may change and you are certain to hear about my dreaming of them.
If at the end of this year of writing I have not succeeded in completing these 52 posts I will donate the equivalent amount of money to the George W. Bush Presidential Library (which is not how I want to spend that money!) and start over. That is to say, take another year and try the whole thing over again.
- Each post must be at least 500 words long.
- Each post is to be published on Tuesday, having been written in full before I sleep by the Friday night before. This will encourage me to write it during the week preceding publication, but allow me to stay up as late as necessary on Friday night to finish.
Finding My Voice
I have been writing my first book over the last year and struggling with how to express myself. In speech, I get to see the person and communicate clearly and comfortably. Recently, I have even gotten over much of my fear of public speaking! In writing, given the opportunity to go back and edit, I do so – endlessly. I find myself changing what I’ve written, getting distracted and writing about something else, and never sharing anything. That tantalizing “publish” button in WordPress never gets pressed. My first goal in this project is to explore and maybe even discover my written voice.
Choosing an Audience
I work with children with autism and their families. There I have a very clear audience and intention. In my writing however I am much less certain. Who is going to read my work? How do I communicate value to that readership? How to I put down in writing the complex concepts I explore daily but that written English is, on the best of days, mediocre at expressing? Who am I writing for? Who is/are my audience? Exploring these questions is my second goal.
I’d like to have a readership. I have heard many authors express gratitude for a readership and people to bounce ideas off of. I learn more about autism from the parents I have the honor of teaching than I could possibly learn alone. In reference to another aspect of my life, what is partnered dancing without a dance partner? Meaningless. In my wildest dreams, writing will also build a readership. An audience who reads what I have to say and engages with the material. The tools I’ve posted above are a set I share again and again when clients or friends asking about behavioral change. My third and biggest dream from this project is to develop a community of readers interested in exploring these ideas with me.
Want to join me? What’s something you don’t think you can do? Come give it a try with me! Let’s go break through that self-imposed glass ceiling!