Habit: Fake it till you make it

Originally posted Aug 6, 2012

A friend in my novelists’ group recently said, “Creativity is a blend of imagination and self-discipline.” So often we forget about the self-discipline part — myself included.

Having a novelists’ group has been a great reminder of this for me, because even if the members don’t say it outright, I often have a sense of, “So where’s your submission for the meeting on Saturday?” It’s not a big deal if one of us doesn’t write, but I think of it as a wasted opportunity. Here are these three other women, ready and willing to read what I’ve written, and several times in the last month I’ve thrown that chance away. It’s not that I don’t value their feedback, it’s just that I’ve been “stuck” at a place in my novel that is difficult to navigate.

I’ve always said that working to create a daily writing habit is essential for most writers, including myself. The times when I haven’t written daily have been times when I’m most discouraged about my writing. It’s difficult to know what comes first — the discouragement, or the lack of writing. When I don’t write, I’m also not availing myself of the opportunity for connecting with readers (whether in my group or elsewhere), which is itself a big reward for writing. And without that sense of connection, I sometimes lose my focus. It’s the proverbial vicious cycle.

How does one break out of the cycle? In my case, it’s a matter of breaking the habit of not writing. Habit is the key word. And to break that habit, I have to believe in myself enough to know I am capable of replacing it with a habit of writing. In addition, I have to believe that people will want to read what I’m writing.

With this post, I’m making a resolution to change my beliefs as a means of changing my habit. It’s a fake-it-till-you-make-it sort of thing. I’m going to act as if I believe I’m capable of making a habit of writing, and as if I believe that people want to read what I write.  And when I “make it” after faking it for a while, I’ll let you know in this space.


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