Two weeks ago, I decided to take a short break from my habit of daily blogging. And, as is the case when falling off most wagons, gravity’s pull was a bitch.
It was only a two-week pause, and I was convinced this time would give me the opportunity to relax and regroup after a strenuous schedule since the first of the year. But instead, my head feels foggier than before and slower to make the important connections necessary for translating reality so it can be understood within the realm of the blogosphere.
My writer brain is as useless as my quad muscles (which have atrophied over a winter without decent snow or suitable trail conditions for biking). The task of planning, researching, writing, and editing a daily post for the remainder of this year feels even more insurmountable than it did on January 1st.
While in this fog, I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes a habit a habit. And while there have been several useful books written and Ted Talks given about the link between habituality and creativity, I’ve made a few of my own observations.
- There is a fine line between a habit and a drudgery.
- The “It takes 21 days to form a habit” rule is a myth, both from my own experience as a writer and as confirmed by Psychology Today, the Huffington Post, and this Forbes article.
- The creative process doesn’t follow arbitrary rules on habit formation.
- The creative process doesn’t follow any rules.
- The creative process doesn’t usually follow a 9 to 5 timeline.
- The creative process is rarely linear.
- Making time for creativity is a noble pursuit — though not one that comes easy.
- Making creativity a daily habit is often more challenging than less ambiguous pursuits (like healthy eating, running, and abstaining from alcohol).
- The idea that expressions of creativity are the result of unanticipated inspiration is a farce. These expressions are preceded by work, and lots of it.
- There’s no way around it: doing the work is the fastest way to form a habit.
While reflecting on the days ahead and my commitment to writing, I am asking myself, “Can a habit really be healthy and/or productive if you feel the need to take a two-week break from it?” And I think, at least in month three of this grand adventure, the answer to that is yes.
The act of writing regularly, whether for the self or for the public, is perhaps the most personally enriching habit I’ve learned to develop — even if it’s the most difficult to sustain, and one I subsequently fail at from time to time.
But I suppose just like anything else, whether it’s running every day, eating more greens, or drinking less whiskey, sustaining the habit of creativity means climbing back on the proverbial wagon. And it means defying gravity — every damn day.