6 weeks to form a habit, 12 weeks to show health benefits March 4, 2010Posted by mattfarmer in writing.
Tags: creative writing, Matt Farmer, Matthew Farmer, nanowrimo, National Novel Writing Month, writer, writing, writing habit, writing symbol
While speaking to some people at work regarding their new exercise regime they passed on this adage, given to them from their personal coach – it takes 6 weeks to form a habit, and 12 weeks to show health benefits.
This struck a chord with me. I know from personal experience, procrastination and the want to do other things can be strong in me. So, while I may have writing to do, and there is always some creative writing I could be doing, getting started can be incredibly hard for me sometimes. Currently I have a novel to write, a short story to re-write and submit, my online writing group weekly newsletter, and some preliminary copy writing work for a website….
However, I have discovered that soon after I start writing, the free creative energy starts generating feelings of euphoria. During the month of November, while competing in Nanowrimo, the crazy creative energy is fantastic. It makes me feel great. A health benefit.
So now, I am trying to create a habit. 2 nights a week and on the weekends. Not completely successful yet. Meetings on Tuesday night, and again tonight, but I did write on Sunday.
Another thing I have found about habits, is once you get into them, others notice them as well. Again, talking about Nanowrimo, I have competed for 8 years now. As it nears November each year, now, I have friends asking me if I am ready, if I have a plot, an idea, a hope of winning. So the HABIT of doing Nanowrimo each year now has my friends aware that I may be unsocial, or a little bit scatter brained during November. I may be talking and suddenly grab my notepad and scribble something down. They also ask about word count, plot points and so forth.
Another thing which can indicate your habit is a symbol of some sorts. When a taxi’s light is off, you know they have a passenger and are not for hire. When someone has head phones on, they are listening to something and do not want to be disturbed.
I have a symbol as well, and is something I will speak of in a future post. My symbol is a purple and orange jester’s hat. It is my ‘Writing Hat’. When I am wearing it, it is a quick indicator that I am (supposed to be) writing.
So, to boil down my thoughts, I know the personal health benefits I get from writing. I get to be creative, I get to kick around in my own sandbox, and it makes me happy. I will endeavor, still, to create my writing habits, and *try* to stick to them, and who knows, in 12 weeks I may be a happier person.
I know The Artist’s Way is a twelve week course. I am now wondering to myself if Julia Cameron was given some similar advice from a personal trainer, of if perhaps said personal trainer has completed all 6 weeks.
Life is about being healthy and happy. If this is a simple solution- write creatively, regularly, and make a HABIT of it, then go for it I say.