So you’ve recently managed to get into a good writing routine. Perhaps this wasn’t easy for you. It’s not easy for most of us! There’s often a lengthy gap between the initial desire to become a consistent writer and adopting the habits and practices needed to make it happen. You should feel proud you’ve come as far as you have. However, don’t be complacent. Unless you’re careful, it’s easy to slip back into your old routine.
Given that you must have a deep desire to write to have come this far, what can you do to ensure your new writing habits stick? To help you ensure your new level of dedication to writing isn’t merely a flash in the pan, we’ve prepared a series of tips to help your new writing habit become second nature.
Find an accountability partner
One of the hardest things is to make a new habit stick when you are the only person paying attention to it. This applies to any habit, whether that’s going to the gym regularly, or practicing a new language, and it certainly applies to becoming a consistent writer. So what can be done about that?
An easy and effective solution to this issue is to enlist someone to be your accountability partner. What exactly is an accountability partner? Exactly what it sounds like – someone who agrees to hold you accountable to your goals, and you likewise to do the same for them.
Ideally, your accountability partner should be someone who is also looking to become consistent in their writing practice. This is because they understand the challenges you will face and will be able to empathize with them. It’s a lot more effective to have someone who understands what it’s like to be a writer. That way, you can offer each other mutual support.
However, it’s also possible to form an accountability partnership with someone who had a different goal from you. For example, your best friend might want to practice Spanish four times a week, while you want to write at least 1000 words each weekday. Even though your goals are different, you are still able to support each other.
So where do you find an accountability partner, and how do you work with them effectively? You might have an obvious source of people who would be a great fit to hold you accountable to your writing goals, such as an author group that meets online or in person.
If not, there are lots of publicly available writing groups on social media. Feel free to join one and put the call out for someone who will be your accountability partner.
A writing accountability partner means you don’t have to pursue your goals alone. That can be invaluable when things get tough.
Link rewards to your writing
A fundamental principle of human behavior is our likelihood to do things we link to pleasure and reward and avoid things linked to pain and discomfort. The truth of this concept is evident from childhood when we are rewarded for the things our parents want us to do and punished for those they wish for us to avoid. However, it doesn’t stop when childhood ends. You can tap into this way of doing things even during adulthood.
Sometimes, this concept of punishment and reward is known as the carrot and the stick. Both aspects can be used to help your writing habits become second nature. Linking rewards to hitting your writing targets, and punishments to missing them hugely increases your likelihood of consistent and stable success. So how exactly do you do this?
Let’s first explore how you can link pleasure and reward to hitting your writing goals. Some of the most common approaches include only allowing your favorite beverage, such as a latte, to be consumed while you’re writing. Other people only allow themselves to indulge in a favored leisure activity such as watching a Netflix show if they hit their writing targets on a given day. You can also save big rewards, such as vacations or major purchases, for achieving significant writing targets such as finishing the first draft of a book.
But what about the opposite? How can you link pain and punishment to missing your writing goals?
You might want to consider using an external service like Stickk. This allows you to suffer some kind of forfeit if you miss your writing target, such as donating an amount of money to a political party you hate. This is externally verified so you can’t cheat. You could also give an amount of money to a friend and instruct them to only return it to you after you provide proof of hitting your writing targets.
You might decide to opt for either the carrot or the stick or go for a mixture of both. It all depends on what will motivate you most to make your writing habits stick.
Set public writing goals
If you keep your writing goals to yourself it’s a lot easier to let them slip. After all, you’re the only one who knows and cares, so would it even matter?
Making your writing targets public is an effective way of making them more achievable. It’s been proven that people are more likely to reach a goal if they have shared it with others. This is because we often fear the disapproval of others more motivating than a simple target we’ve set ourselves.
Public goal sharing is different from an accountability partner. Forming an accountability partnership is more active. Sharing your goals is easier and less demanding. It could involve simply telling your spouse or friends, or perhaps making your aims more widely known by sharing them on social media.
If you struggle to meet targets when you’re the only one who knows they exist, then tap into the power of making your aims public. It just might make all the difference to the long-term success of your writing aims.
Are you ready to write consistently?
You now have three powerful ideas to help make your writing habits stick. While many of these ideas are powerful on their own, they are even more powerful in combination.
You stand the best possible chance of hitting your targets if you combine all three techniques into a potent habit stack. If becoming a consistent writer is important to you, why not throw everything you have at it?
Finally, this article isn’t intended to just be read and forgotten about. No, it’s meant to be acted on. If you’ve made it this far, we challenge you to choose at least one of the techniques above and put it into practice. You may well be pleasantly surprised at just how much difference it makes to your writing life.