Strumming My Pain On A Regular Basis

I am coming to the end of my fifty days of writing blog posts. Coming to the end, I realize that I never really asked myself why I should put myself through this in the first place.

I had a number of reasons (I think). The first – and main – reason is that I wanted to create a writing habit. There’s a saying that goes something like we create our habits, and then our habits create us.

I want to have a writing habit. I’ve got some plans, down the road, and I need to get in shape for them.

To create any kind of habit, I think you need to do something on a very regular basis. Daily is ideal. Being who I am, though, I often think that I’m not doing enough. I should have a loftier goal than just 500 words per day* is one mantra that runs through my head.

This leads to the same type of resolution that causes people to buy expensive memberships in gyms in January. They get involved with fitness having the best intentions, but their energy wanes and they quit.

I suspect there are a few reasons for this. One is that they don’t make fitness a habit. They go faithfully for a week. Or maybe two. But then life gets in the way, and they begin to go tomorrow.

The other, I think, is that people try to do too much early on. “I’m so out of shape. So I’m going to do an hour on the treadmill. Then I’ll lift weights for another 45 minutes. Then I’ll have one of those gross protein drinks and maybe play a little Ultimate Frisbee.”

The next day they can’t move. Will power can only do so much, no matter how strong that will is.

Instead of making a simple goal, like “I’ll just lace up my runners and walk for 10 minutes every day for the next 30 days”, people buy a Schwarzeneggerian workout and try to follow it.

Too hard. Too much for a beginner.

I didn’t want to make those mistakes. I decided that I would only commit to writing for a specific period of time: 50 days. I also picked a reasonable goal for each day: 500 words.

I can always quit after the 50 days, I told myself.

500 words may seem like a lot, if you are not writing regularly, but it is a fairly simple task for me. It’s not like in Grade 10, when I had to write 1500 words for Mr Yadlowski, and it seemed like it would take seven weeks to do it.

It’s pretty straightforward. It just takes three things: making the time, sitting my butt in the chair, and writing. Sometimes I add thinking, but only if I’m feeling a bit pretentious.

And something funny happened on the way to the forum: writing has become a habit. At least, it must be a habit, because I’ve been doing in spite of having all kinds of excuses not to do it: I haven’t had the time, I haven’t had the will, the energy or the drive, and I’ve been slowly killing myself in my own basement.

I write every day – just a little bit – and I now find that I want to write every day.

I’d say that my simple, too-easy formula has paid off.

Now, as they say, the real work can begin.

*500 words per day is 182,500 words in a year. About two regular length novels. Not like a Dan Brown epic, but more like Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

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