Chris Bailey and James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, discuss habit formation.
One of the points Clear stresses is the simplicity of habits. For instance, “writing” as such is too complex an activity to fit Clear’s definition for habit.
Clear instead focuses on habits as they can be performed with mostly unconscious operation. So, to develop a regular writing practice, you might particularly work on habituating something simple that will trigger the start of a writing session (e.g., getting a cup of coffee, leaving open the document you need to work on the day before).
For the full discussion, visit the Life of Productivity podcast.
This is great advice. It puts me in mind of the book we read last year titled “How to Write a Lot.” I think with writing, you must have a clear directive to do it. Many people do it in school because a grade or degree hangs in the balance. But for biblical scholarship to flourish (whether in an academic setting or from the church) we must have a calling in some sense, because writing is painful. I am convinced that writing must be or everyone would do it. I think the triggers you mentioned above are helpful to making it more ordinary, helping us to see it as a rewarded pain for a redemptive purpose so to speak. Perhaps I need to employ something like this to get into a more consistent discipline with it.
By the way, I read this from the poet Rainer Maria Rilke and thought it pertinent to your post and challenge to all of us who are in the work of writing. He writes:
“Go into yourself. Search for the reason that bids you write; find out whether it is spreading out its roots in the deepest places of your heart, acknowledge to yourself whether you would have to die if it were denied you to write. This above all – ask yourself in the stillest hour of your night: must I write? Delve into yourself for a deep answer. And if this should be affirmative, if you may meet this earnest question with a strong and simple “I must,” then build your life according to this necessity; your life even into its most indifferent and slightest hour must be a sign of this urge and a testimony to it.” Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters To A Young Poet (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1934), 18-19.
Thanks again for the helpful post Dr. Stark!
Great points, Matthew, and I do like that quote. Thanks so much for sharing!