22 July 2013

Habits are for nuns and other people

Hoo boy. I might not have the best advice regarding this topic. I guess that's okay, since Gayle already talked about her own difficulty with developing good habits. I don't have a pretty pink dress to spice up my post but all things considered, that's probably best for all concerned.

Moving on.

For starters, almost all of my habits are bad, and that doesn't just apply to writing. But since that's what we're here to talk about, as opposed to your judgment of me and my slovenly lifestyle and poor decision-making skills, I'll stick to that.

I don't have any writer habits and I think that's good. At least for me or somebody similarly wired. Believe me, I've read all the books that talk about establishing a comfortable environment and a consistent routine and I'm sure there's merit to that approach. For one, it instills discipline and there's certainly a benefit to that. I'm not discounting that advice. If it works for you, great. By all means, continue down that path and produce great works!

My problem is I think if I had to develop habits in order to write, I would be doomed to fail. See, my life is influenced to a great degree by an intricate network of part-time employment which prohibits me from making a lot of plans and committing to established routines. I work in the entertainment business and don't have one full-time job, I have several part-time and/or one-off gigs. I work on nights and weekends (some times), I answer my phone at all hours, I eat when I find food, I sleep when I can lay down and I write when I can get my hands on a keyboard or notebook. That sounds worse than it is; I'm comfortable with it and function just fine (although it does make maintaining personal relationships something of a challenge, but that's material for another web site). It just means that it's virtually impossible for me to say that I will sit down every day between 7:00 and 8:30 in the morning with a cup of hot coffee (Hello, Carrie!), no distractions and bang out X number of pages every day. I'm sure there are plenty of people in relatable situations. Maybe they have kids or some other factor that prohibits developing habits and following a routine. My point is, it would be very easy for people like us to throw up our hands and say, "oh well, I guess I just can't write today or almost any day ever", having a handy excuse to be defeated by circumstances we already know are beyond our control.

The alternative is to abandon the idea of developing habits in favor of doing the work. It means focusing on results instead of process. Worry more about getting it done rather than figuring how you're going to carve out the time and establish the environment necessary to sit down and get it done.

Now that I look at the words on the screen, I guess that actually qualifies as developing a habit.

Huh. Shows what I know.

By Clark Brooks

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