Inserting A New Routine Into An Old Habit

Well, the summer is almost over and as the cooler nights breeze over my sweaty skin (it has been a particularly HOT summer in The Greater Toronto Area), I am feeling hopeful that I may soon return to my beloved writing. After a challenging few months, my life is slowly but surely quieting, or at least approaching what I suspect will be my new normal and I expect to be pumping out regular posts in the near future. In the meantime, I have once again asked my friend, Heidi Croot, to share what she sees as her biggest obstacle in producing the kind of writing she yearns to produce.

Inserting a new routine into an old habit

By: Heidi Croot

As a business writer struggling to find my inner writer’s voice, I seek advice everywhere, from great authors to beginning writers alike. None of them tells me what I want to hear: that one day I will wake, lift my pen, and begin writing—the business mantle miraculously lifted from my shoulders, the creative mantle just as magically applied.

What every one of them does say, dag nab it all, is “write something every day.”

Much as I might wish otherwise, I know that business writing does not count.

Nor does journaling count: not my type of journaling anyway. Like many writers, I keep a journal for whinging and whining about life’s woes, and occasionally celebrating the many blessings in my life. These entries are rough and personal, meant to bleed off the darkness and stay in darkness. They are not meant for honing.

My other journals are even less appropriate: the one I keep to record my exercise workouts, for example. Another to catalogue what I serve guests for dinner, used to inspire future menus and avoid repeating mistakes. Another to corral compelling quotes from books and magazines. Another to capture elusive ideas at night. Another to keep track of conversations with, and activities in aid of, my mother. My copious travel journals. And perhaps the most functional of all, the journal I’ve been opening in Microsoft Office Word every morning for 15 years to record my business activities, and on which I depend to accurately bill my clients each month.

Clearly, I have journals aplenty in my life, just not one that fosters creative writing.

And that’s when it hits me, like a big wet fish across the chops. I have a habit that works. Why not insert a new routine into a decades-old pattern of activities that I’ve proved can meet my needs?

What, I ask myself, if I were to open a second Word file each morning? What if I call it, simply, Creative Writing: September 2012? What if I leave it open on my desktop—obvious, insistent, tantalizing—until I fulfill my promise to “write something every day”? And what if, at the end of each daily offering, I jot ideas to juice the next day, perhaps even craft an opening sentence if I’m feeling creative?

What if I tried that? After all, if it works for my business, why not for me?

Round one is today’s guest entry for my good friend and mentor Sharon and her blog. Tomorrow I begin in earnest.

Heidi Croot is an award-winning business writer who has been connecting the five essential dots of communication for employees, customers and the community for more than 30 years. As principal of Croot Communications, she writes magazine articles, newsletters, brochures, annual reports, speeches, strategic plans, and more.

2 Comments

Filed under Writer's blog, Writer's journey, Writing

2 responses to “Inserting A New Routine Into An Old Habit

  1. Janet Chappelle

    When reading this post I began to give thought to the lack of attention I give to my own creative outputs. I love to scrapbook, I am good at it (if I do say so myself), I have a gorgeous niece, a grandson on the way, pets, vacations, and many things in my life that I would like to capture on a well designed and creative page. One that can tell a story far beyond what the picture or pictures does.

    However, I get caught in the same trap. I wake up every morning and do all the things I need to do, all the things I just must do. Yet my scrapbooking room (yes a room) and the multitude of creative supplies, just dying to be used (some of which I am ashamed to say are still in the bags they were delivered in when originally ordered) yearn for my attention.

    I always tell myself I will take the time to spend more time in that room, isn’t that why I wanted it in the first place? Yet I do not prioritize the decision to spend time there. Instead, I do one more load of laundry, make someone’s lunch, or do up those pesky dishes in the sink.

    When will we finally allow ourselves to be selfish, to do what we want, because we like it, and finally because doing so will no doubt enhance our abilities to do the things we must and need to do!

    This week I will scrapbook, I make this promise to myself!

    • Thanks for sharing Janet. So, tomorrow morning when you wake up, walk down your hallway, open the door to your scrapbooking room and do not think of all those other things that can be done after lunch – your neice and grandson will some day thank you for the time you spent creating that well designed page, the one that tells an amazing story.

      Thanks again, Heidi for reminding us to put what matters most at the top of our priority list.

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