On Habits

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about working out daily, wherein I promised I would wake up early and work out before going to class. This may come as a surprise to you, but I totally failed to do that. I started waking up earlier, but instead of going to the gym, I used that extra time to work on homework. Yep. I chose homework over gym time. That says a lot about me, doesn’t it?

The thing is, it wasn’t a bad choice. I started getting to campus early enough to work on homework and projects before class. In fact, I finished a project five days early because I could work on it before and after class. The Max was less crowded earlier in the morning, so the commute was less stressful. Waking up earlier meant going to bed earlier, but I’ve been getting good amounts of sleep nearly every day and my sleep schedule better matches that of my fiancé. We now go to bed together somewhere around 10:30pm. He’s able to wake up at 6 to make coffee and mentally prepare himself for his workday, and I can wake up a little after him and see him before we go our separate ways.

Did I manage to keep my word and work out every day? No. But was I able to develop a good habit anyway? Heck yes! It’s nice to see my fiancé in the mornings and talk with him. On my old schedule, there were days where I wouldn’t speak at all until ten or later. Talking in the mornings with my fiancé helps me prepare for commenting in class. Some days I have a lot of social anxiety, which makes speaking up in class difficult because I flounder about or lose my train of thought or talk too quietly—or I just don’t make sense. But that doesn’t happen when I wake up early. Or, at least it doesn’t happen as much.

Now, if there’s one habit I want to have, it’s writing every day. I haven’t had a regular writing schedule since early high school. I wrote often enough in college, thanks to my writing classes, but I wasn’t ever able to write daily, or without someone imposing a due date on me.

Habits, apparently, take 21 days to form. If I could write 500 words a day for three weeks, I’ll be that much closer to being a good writer. Clearly, Elizabeth Bear writes every day—or at least, she did for a time. Brandon Sanderson and Jim Butcher write every day, I’m almost sure. Producing content is harder for me than editing it, but it wasn’t always that way. If I could find that part of me that can write with abandon, that can turn my editing mind off… Well, I’d feel a lot better about myself.

National Novel Writing Month is coming up, and while I seriously doubt my ability to write 50k words while also in grad school, I’ll try to write daily from now until December. I’ll check back in with you all in 21 days to let you know how I’m doing.