Monday, September 26, 2011

Want to Form Better Writing Habits? Give it Two Weeks.

by Julia Buckley
Disciplined writers know that their good habits pay off. Undisciplined or haphazard writers know that they would be better off with the habits of the disciplined. Perhaps it is tempting to shrug and say, "I'm just not that sort of person."

But brain research suggests that anyone can have very disciplined writing habits, and that the re-wiring of one's brain can take place in as little as fourteen days. Carlos Penaluza writes in this blog that "writers expend a great deal of energy on the writing process: planning, writing and rewriting, verifying facts, getting feedback, revising, and editing. Often, finding the motivation to begin is nearly impossible, proofreading is boring, re-writing seems onerous, and feedback is harsh. And while many writers extol the virtues of formulating good habits, few consider the brain chemistry involved." He goes on to cite the benefits of forming habits, and the reality that the repetition of habitual behaviors actually "alters the firing pattern of projection neurons." In other words, we can form better writing habits and, in the process, re-wire our brains.

But how do we form the new habits? For writers, this may be the hard part. It involves, according to Dr. Lee Rice of the Wellness Institute, "believing in yourself, getting rid of mistrust, writing down what you want, and announcing your changes to the world."

I read enough Facebook to know that the average author (even the bestselling kind) is apt to post things like "I hate everything I wrote today" or "I'm terrified that my latest work is terrible."
In order for all of us writers to re-wire, we have to start by consciously believing in ourselves, journaling about our goals, and speaking confidently about them.

The very fact that some writers might look upon that advice with a certain cynicism might also suggest that they could benefit from re-wiring; and of course this advice doesn't apply only to writers, but to anyone who wants to form a habit that could be life-changing.

So to any of you who, like me, see something that you would like to change, why not read Penaluza's post and give yourself fourteen days? You could be sending your neurons, and your life, in a positive direction.


Anonymous said...

Thanks! Been thinking about this. Needed to READ it.


Julia Buckley said...

Sure, Brenda!