Building Habits

May 08, 2016

When I was younger, I had some issues when it came to communicating in general. Maybe part of it was the fact that I was the youngest of four kids and I had trouble communicating with other people.

The interesting thing is that I was never much of a reader. I always liked stories but I never read a lot.

There is something that is really powerful about a story and about writing. If you have something to say and you get people hooked onto your story, you can get them to go on a journey and you can teach and entertain them. It is also a creative practice that has really low barriers of entry. You can just grab a piece of paper and start constructing. It doesn’t even need that. It can be a much simpler thing. I mean find the ingredients.

The thing about writing that I like is the construction part about it. It is like designing a puzzle, putting it together and taking it apart again to show to your friends. But, the thing that motivates me the most to write is its effects on me. The benefits and the therapeutic nature of it. The calmness of it. There is something awesome about sitting with a blank page and seeing what happens when you start typing and letting go and being free with it. Not being scared about what is going to come out when you start typing.

In May last year, I had become fed up with myself. I was never getting the things done that I wanted to. My to-do list would always have numerous do items and I was stuck in a rut. I had trouble doing any creative work after work hours. I couldn’t even write a few lines of code. I had been wanting to start blogging again and I couldn’t even get myself to publish a post.

I tried to force myself to blog everyday for a month. That was helpful to get over the post anxiety part about it. But, I found that if I sat in a WordPress drafts window without any idea what I wanted to talk about, it made it all that much harder.

I had heard a podcast where someone mentioned “Morning Pages.” At this point, I didn’t know if I heard the proper definition of Morning Pages, where this person was talking about how they just write 3 pages every morning with no distractions.

I set out to try it out and I found that a paper and a pen was not the tool for me. I think that I had trouble reading my own handwriting and I think that was a big determinant. I liked the idea of being able to go back and see what are in these writings.

So, I set out to get an app for my Mac that would allow me to write in full screen so I wouldn’t see any shit on my computer.

Then I started writing. I had the idea of a page goal or a word count. But, I thought to myself that if I missed it or I thought that I would not make it. I might not write. So, the goal was to just write and to see what happens.

The first week was hard but there was some good use of it. The idea of morning pages is to just start writing. So, some of the stuff you start out with at the top of your document is some strange stuff. “My head hurts and I want sour patch kids.” But, then at some point for me, there is always a switch during the writing time where the goodies come out.

There are always the days when you don’t talk about many other things than the sour patch kids.

I kept trying and I kept showing up. Everyday at 6am. Every holiday at 6am. I took a vacation and wrote everyday but not at 6am. I had to give myself a break.

Day by day it got easier and day by day was when the morning interesting things would come out of me. It was an amazing transformation. There was a point where I couldn’t write, and now I couldn’t stop. Even if I decided to write at night and try to write a blog post, the well was always flowing with ideas and with movement.

John SiwickiWritten by John Siwicki who lives and works building interesting things. You should follow him on Twitter