There was a “fact” circulating that it takes approximately twenty-one days to form a habit and a much shorter amount of time to break one. Well, it’s coming out that the amount is more like several months to form a habit. I’m not sure about how long it takes to break any everyday GOOD habit, but I digress.
I have a bad habit. Okay, maybe half a dozen or more. For starters…
I, Beth Overmyer, am a serial web-surfer. If this was about catching some waves and getting some sun, maybe this would be less of a problem. Alas, I have no such luck. The first thing I do after getting ready and down to business in the morning is to open my internet browser and check my email, and then Twitter, Facebook, my blog, my writing group’s website, sometimes Brandon Sanderson’s forums, and so forth and so on.
Checking them once or twice over the course of a few hours would probably be okay. But I’m not. Sadly, I check all of those sites multiple times within the span of a few minutes before I get down to work. This continues on and off throughout the day.
How do I solve something like this, if/when a sheer force of will won’t keep me from my obsessive online surfing? Simple yet difficult: I need to make straight paths for my feet.
While I need the internet for self-employment reasons, I can always…
• Unplug the internet
• Turn off my computer and write longhand
• Use one of those internet-interrupting pieces of software
• Utilize Writer’s Block (free software that doesn’t let you see anything besides what you’re writing.)
Making a clear path for my feet is a key factor that would help me with this habit/addiction. But—I know this will sound trite, but it is the truth: I have to want to change. Also, focusing on the positive is important. If you take a bad habit and replace it with nothing, it’ll either creep back in or a new bad one will form in its place.
What are some good habits for me to have?
• Reading (books and articles) could replace reading my Twitter feed 24/7
• Studying the writing craft could replace refreshing my email
• Striving to reach goals/deadlines could replace idle time on Facebook
Having a plan in place ahead of time is another important step in breaking a bad habit, as is accountability. Know what you’re going to do ahead of time. Learn from past mistakes. Know when you are tempted, and any trigger that might tempt you. Appoint and check in with a buddy at the end of the day or week and tell them how you did. And keep track of how you did…not to rub your mistakes and short-fallings in your face but to learn from them. If needed, delete/burn the list when you’re done “confessing.”
What are some good habits that writers and every other person in a job should have? What bad habits do a lot of us need to change?
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