Good Writing is Like Ben & Jerry’s On a Movie Night

CREATURE OF HABIT 

Someone who develops (generally inadvertently) a set pattern of doing the same thing(s) during a certain time period of the day and/or during the week. 

Humans are creatures of habit, beautiful creatures, with habitual needs and these habits help us through our day.

Stick with me, this is leading somewhere. You have made mashed spuds before, right? Okay, so next time you prepare to smash the boiled potato, think how effortlessly it happens. Your movements around the kitchen, as you open the fridge and grab the butter and milk then turn back, slightly lifting your leg to nudge the refrigerator closed then return to the counter.

You barely think about what you’re doing, the scenario is nearly an out-of-body experience. What about when you walk out the door of a morning and slide into your Jaguar (Mm okay, Corolla), isn’t it true that sometimes you don’t even remember sections of the drive?

That is the Power of Habit – being comfortable and at ease in the everyday. And we don’t just have a few habits we have hundreds. What do you normally like to do on the weekend or after work on a Thursday afternoon?

I like to write, and this has become one of my habits. On the weekend I write. My friends might say, “Let’s call Mel and see what she’s up too.”

“She’s probably writing,” someone would respond. And they would likely be 100% right!

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For writers, though, habit can be detrimental.

Even though there are good and bad habits; they can be extremely hard to change. Why? Because we are almost on auto-pilot, they can be so ingrained in us that we don’t even realize we are doing them anymore.

I’m getting to the crux of it, stay with me.

Can we become comfortable with the uncomfortable? Can we perform a paradoxical miracle and break the habit?

As writers, we write what we are comfortable with writing, and some people say it’s important for writers to specialize in a particular genre.

Devoting yourself to one niche has its rationale because you become more knowledgeable and competent over time – if you develop a hundred different ways for your character’s to fall in love then eventually you’ll give Nicholas Sparks a run for his money. Or if you create a world of fantasy so intricately woven with unique creatures, settings, and languages, then one day, you may give J R R Tolkien a run for his money (but I doubt that).

On the other hand, it can narrow the development of your story and hinder your ability to conjure new ideas and fresh plot-lines.

Writing outside your comfort zone (habitual customs), doesn’t necessarily mean you have to think outside the box because the rules of the box no longer apply, whatever your genre or style is. There is no box anymore – it’s a receptacle, a barrel, a vessel.

You can be daring by incorporating different elements – sci-fi, steampunk, and history – to create a prose that is much richer and original. You can be creative!

When you write outside your comfort zone, you’re no longer categorized as a young adult novelist or a mystery writer. You’re a storyteller.

 

Breaking a habit is difficult and sometimes unpleasant. However, it breaks mental boundaries and chances are you might even enjoy it. You could find a new style of writing that is perfect for you, or it might even realize how amazing your usual style actually is.

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