Ritual –> Habit



I’ve read that creating steps that flow from and into  each other, and always keeping them in that order, makes it easier to create habits. A ritual that forms a habit, if you will. (I really wish I could remember where I read this. Really, really, really. Because it was genius and mind-blowing. It probably came from Teddi Deppner’s blog, because she’s awesome like that.)

Anyway, I did a test run with my daily after-shower and morning habits. I set up my bathroom cabinet so that everything I need to do flows downward in a left to right fashion. Two weeks later, I no longer forget anything that I need to do–it’s easy to remember. Easy-peasy. Turning it into a ritual made it all a habit.

So I started doing this just a few days ago with my writing. I discovered a delicious drink I absolutely love–London Fog. Earl Grey tea with sweetener, a splash of vanilla, and creamer. Mmmmm. (Thank you Gretchen for posting about this on FB!). So at the beginning of my writing time, I make a cup of this tea and get a glass of water, then go upstairs, put on my elbow-length writing mitts and slippers (what? It’s still cold in my office!), turn on my music, and immediately open my writing document. Occasionally I bring a snack but I’ve been trying to quit snacking while writing. Of course there are occasional changes to this, like sometimes I need to get the tablet for Toby and put Jase to sleep first, but this is my ritual when it actually comes to writing.

It’s helping. By making a ritual out of steps that easily flow from one to the other, it’s become easy for me to get into the writing mindset. Yes, it takes a little bit longer to get ready, but I’ve found the increased productivity even in these few days that I’ve been trying it is so worth it.

Another benefit I’ve found of establishing this sort of routine is that it means I’m no longer as much of a stickler for writing at a certain time of the day. I used to do that because it was the only way to get myself in the writing mood. Now, as long as I go through my preparation ritual, I’m ready for writing whenever I have the time for it.

My next goals, once I’ve established the writing ritual into habit, are to establish rituals for daily exercise, a decent bedtime, and a good morning routine. I anticipate the morning routine being the hardest, simply because it’s hard to get up before my boys (but again, so worth it, especially in terms of my attitude throughout the day…something about being able to enjoy a cup of coffee in peace…)

If you have a hard time remembering all the stuff you need to do daily, or find you need to get in the mood for something, I highly suggest using a preparation ritual to help you turn things into habits. I think I’ve tweaked this a little bit from the original that I read, but this definitely works for me.

Published by H. A. Titus

H. A. Titus is usually found with her nose in a book or spinning story-worlds in her head. Her love affair with fantasy began at age twelve, when her dad handed her The Lord of the Rings after listening to it on tape during a family vacation. Her stories have been published in Digital Dragon Magazine, Residential Aliens Magazine, and four anthologies: Alternative Witness; Avenir Eclectia Volume 1; The Tanist's Wife and Other Stories; and Different Dragons Volume II. In December 2013, her short story "Dragon Dance" won Honorable Mention in a Writers of the Future contest. She lives on the shores of Lake Superior with her meteorologist husband and young son, who do their best to ensure she occasionally emerges into the real world. When she's not writing, she can be found rock-climbing, skiing, or hanging out at her online home, hatitus.wordpress.com.

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