With the holiday gift-giving season in full swing, the list of clever gifts for writers is getting longer and more gimmicky by the minute. There are special stylus pens that act like pencils and never need to be sharpened, mugs with pithy quotes, scads of notebooks, teabags, and even soaps. It’s getting a little crazy out there. Let’s dial it all down for a moment and think about what’s really important.
Roseanne Bane, a writer with a wonderful blog called “Bane of Your Resistance,” recently wrote a post that cut through all the holiday noise and chatter when she wisely pointed out that, “The one gift a writer truly needs can only be given by the writer her/himself – a writing habit.
“Without writing habits, the fancy pens and notebooks gather dust. Or get used to make grocery lists.Without writing habits, all the tools, techniques and talent in the world are a waste. With writing habits, tools are applied, techniques are learned and mastered, and talent is developed and more importantly, directed onto the page.
“Writing habits are the thoughts, actions and routines that lead you into writing. Every writer has her/his own unique collection of writing habits. We also have resisting habits — the thoughts, actions and routines that lead us away from writing.”
“Writing habits” and “resisting habits” — these are two categories worth pondering about in our own lives. What habits have we developed that lead us into our writing and what “resisting” habits have we consciously or unconsciously cultivated that lead us away from our work on the page?
Roseanne sees her tendency to check email and social media before she writes as “a sign of resistance” to sitting down and writing. The more often she ignores this tendency and launches directly into her writing, the more productive her writing sessions are because she’s fueling her writing habit, not her resistance.
Roseanne suggests taking an inventory of “writing habits” and listing those things you do that make it more likely you’ll sit down and write and then making a list of your “resisting habits” — those things you do that make it less likely you’ll sit down and write. Something to ponder. Let’s all give ourselves the best gift of all in the coming year: a writing habit — and then write on.