How to Develop the Kind of Writing Habit That Earns Money Each Month

Jessica Lynn

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A quarter of 2021 is over. Are you where you imagined you would be at this time of year in your writing career? Have you established a habit, found your routine? Written every day?

No.

There’s still time. It’s never too late.

You have 284 days left of 2021.

The problem with goals and why I don’t make resolutions arbitrarily at the end of each year is that “new goals don’t deliver new results. New lifestyles do.” — James Clear.

The reason it doesn’t work to only state your goals aloud like, I’ll lose twenty pounds or I’ll create a daily writing habit is it only happens when we change our habits. It helps to state and write your goals down, but it’s necessary to develop a system to implement your plans to realize the goal. Creating a new lifestyle around the goal is a process, not an outcome. Build better habits.

To build better habits, focus on small wins.

The thing is, you can’t change a habit overnight. A small few can. But most cannot. Because a “negative” habit like, never writing despite wanting to be a writer or downing a bag of salt and vinegar chips while binging Ginny and Georgia despite wanting to lose twenty pounds is your habit.

You have to replace old habits with new ones.

How?

Focus on small wins.

Your goal is simply to win the majority of the time. When you replace the binging Netflix with a writing session, you start to identify with being a writer because now you have proof you write. The more proof you have, the more you identify with the goal you are working toward — becoming a writer.

Habits are the path to changing your identity.

The most practical way to change who you are is to change what you do. — James Clear.

  • Each time you write, you are a writer.
  • Each time you go for a run, you are a person who cares about your health.
  • Each time you mentor someone, you are a leader.
  • Each time you listen to your partner with an open heart, you are an engaged husband.

Habits make you who you are. They inform your identity. The habits you do each day are ingrained; they become routine, some are unconscious, but your habits are an indication of the kind of person you believe you are, so mind your habits.

The more evidence you have of a belief, the more you’ll believe it, reinforcing the habit. When you write, you are a writer. When you exercise and take your health seriously, you are someone who cares about your longevity. Those habits you stick to inform who you are.

Why do people fail to put their habits into action?

They fail in large part because they have an identity crisis.

If you tell yourself, I’m a terrible writer, why bother? Or, I’ve always been overweight and always will be, then these messages will conflict with the good habits you’re trying to incorporate into your day. If habits conflict with what you’re telling yourself, you’ll most likely fail to implement them and put them into action.

Thus, true behavior change requires an identity shift. Be mindful of what you tell yourself. Your inner chatter will inform your habits and your willingness to follow through on them.

Step One

Decide what type of person you want to be.

I want to be a [writer] (fill in the blank).

Or

I want to exude health and longevity.

Step Two

Prove it to yourself in small wins.

What action will you take today to prove you’re the type of person you want to be?

Step Three

Write down the goals you want to achieve.

Step Four

Come up with a system. This step takes the longest and turns your goals into a lifestyle over time with repetition.

You can’t rely on motivation to form a habit. Motivation isn’t reliable to be the foundation of change. You have to come up with something more stable than motivation.

What you need is clarity.

Clarity comes from implementation intention. It is simply where and when you’ll insert your new, positive habit into your day. A system. If you want to get into health and lose weight then where and when will you exercise? If you want to be a paid writer, where and when will you write?

Write your plan down.

  • Health: I will exercise for one hour at 9:00 am in my backyard.
  • Writing: I will write for one hour at 8:00 am at my desk.

A system is simply a plan that tells you where and when to act. This is important because it gives you clarity and focus.

Those who make a specific plan for when and where they will perform a new habit are more likely to follow through and achieve their goals. You don’t have to make it complicated either. It is simply saying where and when you will do something — developing your system.

You can get more detailed about your system later after you’ve formed the habit of showing up. Showing up is the most important part of developing a new habit. That is why we say to start small. Make it realistic by setting realistic expectations.

Once you repeat, repeat, repeat until it becomes a habit, you then add on.

Make the time and location so obvious that with enough repetition, you get the urge to perform the new habit at the same time each day. This is how good habits are born.

Another way: Pair your new habit with a current habit.

You can add a new habit onto an existing one, immediately following it.

Do you do something every single morning, like drink coffee, exercise, or both? Whatever habit you already have, add the new one on top of it.

  • After I pour my morning coffee, I will sit down at my desk and write for an hour.
  • After I go to the gym, I will sit down and write at my desk for an hour.

This method was created by BJ Fogg as part of his Tiny Habits program and is very effective. This is the same as having a ritual that many creatives use before they start work. It triggers the habit into action.

Now that my writing routine is a solid habit because I’ve been doing it for so long, I added triggers to make it easier to sit down to write. All professionals, especially writers, have some system to combat resistance that comes with being a writer. Resistance is anything that shows up in the form of a distraction.

Here are some of the rituals I use to write for long sessions.

  • Reaching for my headphones
  • Making a vegetable smoothie
  • Pouring coffee
  • Closing my office door

Developing a system takes time, and most writers have one.

Your system — where and when you write — will change when circumstances in your life change. What is important is to keep the habit going through repetition. If you take one day off from a goal, try not to take two days off from your system, it gets harder and harder to get back into a habit the longer you stay away from it.

To review

  • Call yourself a writer. Merge your identity with your goals and habits.
  • Focus on small wins — each time you write a page or for an hour, you are a writer
  • Write down your goals, pin them to the wall. Look at the daily.
  • Develop a system. Come up with where and when you will perform your habit.
  • Add your new habit after an existing one.
  • Repeat until you have the urge to perform the new habit

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Writing on all things California and Texas. It unfolds here. Your daily dose of local news. From politics to food, from celebrity culture to current events. Follow me for the latest updates. Twitter: @girl_thriving

Los Angeles, CA
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