Monday, August 27, 2012


Finding a title for this blog post took more time and thought than deciding on a topic.  The thing is, it's easy to talk (or blog) about something, but actually doing it and repeating it can sometimes prove to be difficult, if not impossible.

I pulled out my handy Synonym Finder (The Synonym Finder by J.I. Rodale) and looked up the word "habit," because what we're really trying to do is to motivate ourselves enough to make something--writing maybe--a habit.  Right?

Habit, routine, practice---none have the right ring to them to make me want to repeat the same thing over and over.  Oops!  Now that sounds really boring and not very positive.  Let me tell you, finding an image that had something to do with repeated action was much simpler.  When I saw the escalator, the light bulb went on over my head.  An escalator goes and goes, never stopping until, well, probably when the mall or store or whatever closes--if it does--and then it's started again the next day.  (Gee, sounds like my life!)  Making something a habit is much the same.

We've all watched small children shrink back in fear of stepping on an escalator.  I vaguely remember when I was a child that my mother kept telling me to just step on it and stop being afraid.  I was convinced my foot was going to get caught somehow and I'd be pulled down between those panels of steel to be cut into ribbons.  (BTW, the escalators at Macy's in Chicago went about 100 mph.  Or seemed to.)  As an adult, I rarely give it a thought.  Stepping on an elevator with barely a glance has become a habit for most of us.  Wouldn't it be nice to make a habit of writing regularly (or anything else!) the same way?

So I checked out a few more words, since habit, routine, and practice struck me as being on the not too nifty side of the list.  There had to be words that were more positive and would lure me into making something a habit.  A GOOD habit.

I came up with two.  Custom and pattern.  Of those, I chose pattern.  The reason I chose it is because the word patterning came to mind.  Here's what has to say:
patterning  pat·tern·ing (pāt'ər-nĭng)  n. 
 A method of physical therapy in which a rigid pattern of exercises is imposed to stimulate weak or paralyzed nerves and muscles to act on their own.
Oh, yeah. Uh huh.  Weak or paralyzed nerves and muscles?  What a wonderful description of what it's like to try to get back to writing (or playing the piano, exercising, painting, etc.) after not having done it for a while.

As for the word pattern, this definition pretty much says it.
 pattern pat·tern   noun
5. a combination of qualities, acts, tendencies, etc., forming a consistent or characteristic arrangement: the behavior patterns of teenagers.
Apparently I've been doing some patterning and didn't realize it.  I know it's important to write every day.  When I don't write for a while, I have a very hard time getting back into it.  The simple act of thinking up words, much less stringing them together to make a coherent sentence, can be almost physically painful after not doing it.  While I know I need to do these things, I don't.  I find something else to do.

Let's face it.  I understand goal setting and how breaking a large goal into smaller pieces is the key to reaching that goal.  Well, that and actually doing those daily goals. ☺ That's where my problem lies.  But I'm working on correcting that.  For the past two weeks, I've been writing steadily and reaching goals better than ever.  I've been stimulating those weak and even sometimes paralyzed writing nerves and muscles.  I'm within a chapter of having a book finished and shouldn't have a problem of making my deadline.  After that?  I plan to keep going.  Who knows what I can accomplish?  Who knows what we all can accomplish, if only we learn to use patterning?
"Watch your thoughts for they become words. Watch your words for they become actions. Watch your actions for they become... habits. Watch your habits, for they become your character. And watch your character, for it becomes your destiny! What we think we become." ~ Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady


Joanie said...

Sometimes I feel like you sit in my office closet and take notes, Rox. :)

You have touched on so many things I have to work on all the time. I am TERRIBLE at writing headlines--even though I've sold over 1500 magazine articles and I should be better by now. But it's either I come up with a great one immediately or I feel like I have to settle for mediocre. And then the patterning thing. I'm great at goal setting, I'm great at envisioning and meeting challenges, but throughout the entire journey (as in every days for a freelance writer) I have to keep reminding myself that "change is hard & uncomfortable, even change I want, but it will all be good in the end". It's so much easier to sit comfortably in my comfort zone--just not as creative or (often) as financially rewarding as pushing toward new heights.

Obviously I appreciate everything you've written here, and it's so validating to know I'm not the only one. Yes, I knew there were other writers out there like me, but when I sit solo in the office all day working--well, it's nice to hear.

You push harder and I will, too. Success is worth it!


Rox Delaney said...

Joanie, it's that hidden camera I planted in your office. ;) Or maybe we were twins separated at birth. I'm a great planner, too. It's the doing that gives me fits. I'm trying to change that. It's slow going. Right now, everybody seems to want a piece of me. I have 2 goals left for the week, and at least 3 days to get them done. It's possible, just not probably, but I'm going to try. I hope your week is going better. :)