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How to Develop a Daily Writing Habit

How to Develop a Daily Writing Habit

Writing is one of the most difficult, most underrated activities that people all across the world covet. Some people write as a profession while others write because it is required of them in their schooling or career. There are even some people who write just for fun. But no matter what your reason for writing may be, developing a daily writing habit can be extremely beneficial to different areas of your life.

Usefulness

The best reason to develop writing as a daily habit is because it’s a great skill to have. Being able to coherently get your thoughts onto paper in an interesting and engaging manner is no small feat. Just ask Shakespeare. It takes a lot of practice and a ton of hard work. But once you get the hang of it, you start to see how it helps you communicate with others in an effective way.

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Here’s a few easy steps to start:

  1. Get a blank notebook. It doesn’t matter what kind. It can be a college-ruled pad or a leather bound notebook that is designed specifically for writing. The only thing that matters is whether or not there is paper for you to write on.
  2. Get a pen or pencil. It doesn’t matter what kind. Whatever you prefer. (I use a pen so that I can’t erase what I write.)
  3. Write.

It’s as simple as that. The only way to get better is to write, write, and write.

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Sense of Self

When you write daily, you develop a bigger sense of self. Even when you’re not writing about yourself, you learn about how you perceive things or what your outlook is on certain subjects. For example, you could be writing about a thought or a dream that you had, in which case, you’d learn how you take it all in and extract your feelings from it. Or you could write about World War II and learn about how you feel like those events impacted humankind since. It’s all really fascinating, to learn about yourself. After a couple of months of writing daily, you can go back and see how you were when you started. Seeing yourself grow is a fruitful experience.

It might be a good strategy to brainstorm a few ideas that you enjoy writing about first before you start writing about things that you don’t enjoy. Once you figure that out, you’ll be able to start to cultivate your way through your own skills. Another good route to take would be to look up creative writing blogs or head over to google and search subjects that you are passionate about.

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Critical Thinking

Another great reason why writing daily is beneficial is because it helps you do your job better, even if your job doesn’t call for you to write. You develop critical thinking skills that you learn through your writing and it helps you become a better talker, thinker, and doer. You also have more of a reason to want to do your job at a higher level. Once you begin to write your thoughts and feelings down, you feel compelled to write about them again the next day.

Your point of action: find out a way to write every single day about the things that you feel strongly about. It can be political, it can be personal, it can be about the economy, etc. Whatever it is, challenge yourself to have an open mind throughout the whole process. It’ll help you grow as a person. Who knows, you may even learn a lot about yourself that you never really explored prior.

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Language

The last reason that I have for you is that writing forces you to learn about the English language, whether you want to or not. You’re going to learn more words on your journey, whether it’s indirectly through contextual examples or directly from a dictionary. You start to build a tool belt of your best words, ideas, and phrases that you can use at any time. This gives you more of a chance to make a real difference with your words, not only on paper but orally as well.

A good thing to start off with would be a dictionary (which you can conveniently find an app for if need be). You can read a couple of pages of words a day if you want to or you can read a book and write down all of the words that you don’t truly know the definition of. This will help with your awareness and ability to find words that push you to do better with your writing.

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Write

The number one piece of advice that professional writers will give to you is this: write. Do it every single day. In a month’s time, you’ll start to see where you are as a writer and where you’ll want to improve.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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