taking stock

Going away has thrown my writing rhythm somewhat.

I’ve been struggling to get back into the swing of things, even as I tried to instil a morning habit of publishing in order to maybe get some more views.

This was idiotic. I tend to enjoy writing this posts late at night. Also I could just schedule them to ‘drop’ at a more audience friendly time of day. The audience wasn't the point of developing my writing habit, the point was to exercise my shipping muscle. Avoiding scrutiny from an audience though, is another form of fearfulness in some ways.

After enviously looking at Anne-Laure Le Cunff’s daily posts, packed with actual research and links to academic studies yet filled with interesting and actionable information, I thought I’d take stock of how far I’d come and review my efforts. I’d originally aimed to do a 30 day stint and take it from there.

I put out my first post on the 8th of July and my last on the 9th of September. Between these two dates, I’ve published 42 posts. Some of these posts were published on the weekends but if you were aiming to blog every weekday rather than the weekend, I’ve managed to post on just about every available day.

I also have several drafts that I wanted to do proper justice to but never did. They’re sitting in the draft section of my blog or lurking in the backwaters of my Notion space.

All in all, that’s a pretty decent effort and volume of writing. I’m quite pleased with myself.

Tying in with my 66 Days concept, where it takes an average of 66 days to form a new habit, I have spent about that time committed to daily posts. I do now feel a twinge of disappointment if I don’t manage to do one, a feeling of failure if I abandon a post and publish nothing.

It seems that I am actually developing a writing habit!

Reading some other pieces around habit formation has made me consider how I could entrench this habit still further.

I have some exercise habits that are now incredibly ingrained into my daily routine and it’s almost a wrench to not do them. Every morning I knock out some press-ups and some posterior chain exercises as soon as I wake up before having a cold shower. I’ve already fitted in my first exercise snack.

More recently I’ve started checking the time on my phone when I wake but not unlocking it, ignoring any notifications that are there. I’m practising divorcing myself from the phone and I leave it for at least 30 minutes after waking up if I can.

This habit is easy to fulfil because it’s not time dependent. When I wake up is when I wake up. There is no set time and in general, I wake up every day. It’s a touchstone that’s difficult to ignore and impossible to reschedule. that means that fulfilling habit becomes the natural next step in my day and the longer I go, the more difficult it is to not do the behaviour. It feels aberrant.

My writing habit is a different matter. Maybe when I was writing every evening, it was easier to fulfil. I find it relaxing and that the words flow easily. When I write earlier in the day, I tend to feel like I should be doing some actual work rather than blogging for my own amusement/bemusement.

It’s easy to defer the behaviour earlier in the day and now I’ve messed with my own routine. The times where I haven’t fulfilled it have been times where I’ve been out during the evening but even then, I’ve usually managed to post something before I go out, feeling an odd sense of obligation to no-one but myself.

A specific time is a bad idea, as is no plan at all. My morning successes point to perhaps anchoring may writing to an evening touchstone that I already have. I do some more vigorous exercise to signal the end of my work day, although I often like to do more work in the evening, and there is obviously dinner. Perhaps digesting my food while twirling out a post would be a good manoeuvre? It remains to be seen.

Essentially, I feel that I’ve proven my own theories around habit, as well as my ability to ship. These are things to be ppelasaed about. The next steps are to make some clearer commitments to myself and try to lift the quality of the posts. Maybe a content calendar is the next step?

Stock taken. Watch this space.

Ben Mercer