Motivation vs. Habit

On the door at my gym, someone hung a sign that says, “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit keeps you going.”

I began working out regularly over 20 years ago. Since then, I’ve dropped about 75 pounds, and I’ve run or walked something in neighborhood of 22,000 miles. I can’t even imagine how much I’ve lifted in weights. But think about it, if someone had said to me, “Hey, Dave, why don’t you go run 22,000 miles?” it would have taken an awful lot of motivation to get me going.

However, it only took a tiny bit of habit.

Writing is much the same way. A lot of us try hard to get motivated to write a novel. But writing a novel is a lengthy process. Being motivated doesn’t help much, but developing good writing habits helps a lot.

I learned long ago that exercise is hard when you’re starting out. If you run three days, you’ll want to quit at the end of them. That’s when muscle aches and fatigue are the strongest. But if you run for a week, you’ll begin to notice that you feel better on the days that you’ve run. Soon, the day won’t feel complete without some exercise.

Writing is much the same. Jumping into a project is hard. Working on a novel for one day doesn’t really get you very far into it. But if you try making it a habit—if you bundle all of that motivation up and say to yourself, “I’m going to write for one hour a day this week,” you’ll find at the end of the week that you just don’t really feel that your day is complete if you haven’t spent some time engaged in creative recreation.

With my writing workshops, I generally hold them for a week. I try to motivate my students to write daily during that time, if only for a couple of hours. The goal in part is to teach the writers and get them to develop new skills, but just as importantly, I’m trying to get them into the habit of writing.

Quite often it works. I’ve gotten many letters from writers where the writer has said, “Hey, Dave, I got into the habit of writing at your workshop last year, and I’ve just finished my first/second/third/fourth novel!” Whenever I see that, I always feel as if the mission has been accomplished.

So here’s the key to become a writer: Use your motivation to create a writing habit. Long after you have run out of motivation, you’ll still be writing.

Writing Publish Profit

A little over 30 of us have gotten together to make the Writing Publish Profit Super Stack. We’ve pooled 28 books and courses on the craft of writing together, so whatever your need, there’s an expert for you.

My contribution is Writing Mastery 1, an online course of nine videos and writing assignments on the most common writing weaknesses keeping work from reaching publication quality.

This started as an online writing workshop, but as more people became interested I created this audited version, without the time constraint of meeting weekly or the bottleneck of receiving my personal feedback, so that more people could improve their craft as their busy schedules allow.

You can see a preview of Writing Mastery I at mystorydoctor.com/pi-writing1-audit/.

If you like what you see, pick up the audited workshop plus 28 other books and courses for $48 at davidfarland–infostack.thrivecart.com/wpp/.

Build a Bridge for Jason Mills

One of my friends has this GoFundMe going on to help start an independent bookstore with her autistic son:

Like most mothers, I’d do anything for my children. My son, Jason, has high-functioning autism and it has challenged him all his life. With a lot of help and encouragement, he was able to graduate cum laude from high school. After some private lessons, he finally received his driver’s license and is driving his own car.

Employment, however, seems to be the wall he can’t hurdle. He applies but is rarely given the chance to even interview. When he was turned down for the third time for a part-time position at Barnes & Noble this past January, I decided it was time St. George, Utah had an independent bookstore of its own, selling all new books and offering a full slate of events. A bookstore with a heart for those on the autistic spectrum (as well as other disabilities). A bookstore that would give Jason a job and train him to take over one day should he so choose. And it’s a natural fit for him–he’s always loved books and even taught himself to read by age three.

You may think indie bookstores are dying, but it’s just not so. A bookstore can be a profitable business if done right. Between 2009 and 2015 when so many other small businesses were going under, the number of independent bookstores rose–so much so that a Harvard professor set out to study the anomaly to find out what they were doing differently. In short, he found that truly successful bookstore (some of which pull in millions each year) all engaged in what he called “the 3 Cs–Community, Convening, and Curation.” That’s what we’re going to do with our bookstore.

At the end of this month, The Book Bungalow will open, and a Grand Opening is slated for mid-October. We’re reaching out to the community, gathering a carefully curated collection of books, and filling up the calendar with events (check us out on our website).

In fact, thanks to Affogato Coffee Shop, we’ve already had our first author event–featuring “Chasing Portraits” by Elizabeth Rynecki–just this past week before we’d even opened, and we sold 19 of the 24 books sent by Penguin Random House.

Please consider helping us raise $10,000 by September 24th.

Learn more or donate here.

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