june: habits and how to make them

Last month I launched a digital writing challenge called Word by Word, which I designed for every person who has ever said to me "Oh, you write every day?" with obvious astonishment. 

The short answer is yes. The long answer is while there have been periods when I skipped my daily writing practice, it's been in place for years, and it's a habit that I always come back to (and one that I've encouraged others to adopt as well).

I learned to write this way from Julia Cameron & The Artist's Way. Cameron insists that writing three pages by hand every day is magical. And after years of doing it, I'd have to agree with her. It's a meditative way to connect with the self and it has definitely improved my writing. 

So, if a daily writing practice is so great, why doesn't everyone do it? Good question.

Ignoring all the people who have no interest in cultivating a daily writing practice, there are still lots of people who can't quite bring themselves to sit down with blank paper everyday. Blank paper can be daunting, not to mention annoying or just not something you want to deal with at the moment (or, um, possibly ever, even though you also want to write a book, or a screenplay, or a graphic novel). So, how do we build the habit of daily writing when we are feeling major resistance?

Well, in my experience (and from what I've learned by reading tons of Martha Beck), the answer is to take smaller steps. When I started writing three pages a day, I hated it. I fought with the process for months. At some point, things changed and I came to love the daily writing, even though I still resist it from time to time.

While this worked for me, it was pretty rough, and it's not how I'd recommend others go about establishing a daily writing practice. Which brings me back to Word by Word. I wanted it to help people ramp up so that the process wouldn't be so difficult. There's the 28-day challenge element, but really it's all about growing a practice from something super simple into something substantial, day by day. Which is how all habits start, isn't it?