I came across this article, which starts as follows:
“We are what we repeatedly do,” Aristotle famously proclaimed. “Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
And later, it goes on to quote William James:
The great thing, then, in all education, is to make our nervous system
our ally instead of our enemy. It is to fund and capitalize our
acquisitions, and live at ease upon the interest of the fund. For this
we must make automatic and habitual, as early as possible, as many
useful actions as we can, and guard against the growing into ways that
are likely to be disadvantageous to us, as we should guard against the
plague. The more of the details of our daily life we can hand over to
the effortless custody of automatism, the more our higher powers of mind
will be set free for their own proper work.
I’ve been mulling over thoughts and habits for a bit now, and found this very applicable to my writing. Time was, I couldn’t sit down and write a paragraph without breaking into a sweat. Now that I’ve been writing for 5 years, it seems more natural– the act of writing has become a habit, and I’m now more concerned with ‘deliberate practice‘.
I’m wondering how much of habit I can include into my writing. Write every day at a particular hour, write using a specific medium, listen to a specific music, imbibe certain craft techniques — a routine and ritual that would become automatic, and then I need worry about only the story, and not the writing of it.
Then I wonder whether this would stifle me– I write everyday, but I swing between notepaper and laptop, colored pens and black, various kinds of music and silence, different locations in my home. If I make my ritual too concrete, will I be unable to write without it? Different strokes for different folks and so on.
I’ve decided I’m going to give structuring my writing habits (rituals?) a try.
What about you? Do you believe good writing can become a habit, or even be born of one?