“Habits define a person’s lifestyle,” I wrote two years ago during October in an old post.
My perspective has changed since then, but not by a lot. The biggest difference is I no longer suffer from chronic pain! Through my journey, habits and rituals have increasingly become an important aspect of my life.
Habits are similar to tending a garden.
A habit begins as a seed, then is tended to through behavior, thoughts, and environment. Over time, the seed grows and awareness must be maintained for when weeds arise or if the habit needs to be pruned… or pulled up entirely and a new seed planted.
This metaphor can add complexity, for instance if I want to train the plant/habit into vines upon a trellis instead of letting it grow wild out of the bounds of my garden… either way, I am the tender and master of what habits I form and allow to flourish, and which I choose to dig up or cut back.
In the old post, craft exercises were mentioned, but I’ve barely used writing exercises in the past year of writing. It is no longer a habit I tend to, but I let it grow along the edges to fare for itself. So while a manicured garden requires constant upkeep, there are elements that once planted can stick around in small spaces until intentionally taken out.
There is a difference when it comes to habits between supporting writing and improving writing. Some habits can do both, but others are exclusively based. However, this depends on the eccentricities of the individual artist/writer. There is no One-Size-Fits-All when it comes to the art of writing.
For instance, back then, I wrote about habitual reading and what it meant to me. I’ve struggled with this specific habit in the past because I believed I should be following advice to have a reader-dominant mindset, along with (for me) a stale mentality of tracking page numbers and author names.
It didn’t excite me or make me feel alive or expansive like when I was a child. Then, I found writers who admitted they only read outside of their genre and my perspective on my reading habit began to change for the positive.
When I was a child, I devoured books like Gone with the Wind and the Sherlock Holmes series. As I got older, I binge-read visual-based books like manga and graphic novels. Now, I read non-fiction a great deal.
A reason for this is because when I actually read fiction these days, I’m not able to get far before I feel like writing on my own work so I stop reading and go write/edit (same when I read writing-advice books). Thus, I find that mental stimulation and relaxation through reading non-fiction books instead.
The reading habit is one of the most commonly peddled suggestions for writers to place their faith in, next to the daily writing habit (another one that I’ve had to figure out what it means for me and not what it means for others).
What can be missed in these often-10 word quotes about reading or daily writing is that these habits are going to be different depending on a person’s unique tastes and where they are in their life. Habits are individualistic and as silly as it is to point out, not every writer is the same as each other.
I’ve learned that I’m not a fan of doing something for the sheer sake of productivity, nor motivation through guilt or ‘shoulds’, let alone groupthink.
I am a fan of inspiration, passion, having purpose, enacting will to action and actualizing ideas, dreams, and beliefs on the merit of what they provide for my experience of life.
A habit’s behavior is just as important as the intention behind the habit. Thoughts are the roots of our habits and both provide understanding of where we are in our journey through life. Tending to a habit can start either in behavior, thought, or both.
Thought influences behavior and behavior influences thought; it’s a self-reflecting cycle.
A strong and visceral intention behind a habit can support us so much that it evolves to the status of a ritual. Awareness of our daily/weekly/monthly/annual rituals gives us the opportunity to honor the habits that truly support writing our unique stories that we have to share with the world.
art credit: Tomasz Namielski.