Breaking the Habit of the Writing Break

Write every day. Ten minutes a day. A thousand words a day. Just write. Free write in a journal. Write your book. Start some kind of specialty journal. Whatever you do, do it every day. Lots of advice and ideas on what to do as part of a daily writing habit abound.

One of the keys is getting it done every day. Every day. Until it becomes a habit.

Creating a habit (they say) takes 21 to 28 or even 30 days. Some even claim you need as much as 90 days for the habit to stick. There are also methods that say developing a habit isn’t something to do daily, but that there’s a method to returning to it. This is called Spaced Repetition and there’s an easy guide to getting started with this method right here.

Problem is, I’ve been out of the writing habit for a while and I’ve become overwhelmed with all the advice-mongers on how to get back in. I’ve spent so much time browsing Pinterest on writing without actually writing.

In theory, to me, the advice to simply write ten minutes a day sounds the best. Who can’t spare ten minutes in their busy day? Ten minutes is nothing! I know I can easily spend ten minutes a day checking Facebook, Pinterest . . . or staring at a wall. I also know I can write a solid few hundred words in that ten minutes.

But when? If I’m going to write ten a day, it should be at the same time every day, right? I used to write first thing in the morning. I used to be the first one up in my house every day. I would grab my cup of coffee, sit at my computer, and go!

That changed when The Child started getting up at the same time.

After work? That’s a terrible time (for me). I’m beat from the day. My brain is mush and I need to recharge.

During the day? Right now The Job is so busy I don’t get any breaks (I even eat my lunch at my desk while I’m working almost every day).

I realized that trying to find a set time every day is 1) a lost cause and 2) just another excuse for not writing those ten minutes.

The other problem (OK, I’ll call it an excuse, because that’s all it is) is: where do I write? Do I carry a journal around with me everywhere? Can I do it on my phone? Honestly, I’m still working this one out. I alternate between my phone and a journal – never completely satisfied.

So instead, I’ve been on a writing break. I won’t admit to how long it’s been since I’ve been away from my core writing activities. Being on a break hasn’t stopped me from thinking about writing, reading about writing, taking notes when they come to me, or other tangentially related activities.

But this break is dangerous because it, too, is a habit and one that’s gone longer than 28 days. (OK, longer than 90 now.)  So yeah, a real habit.