Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Getting to Be a Habit

Habits are the activities and attitudes you do on a regular basis, often without giving thought to the procedure.  One example is your use of habit words, which you repeat unintentionally in early drafts, then sedulously remove, replace, or adjust.  Of your many habit words, “and” appears more often than you’d like, ditto “accordingly,” “thus,” and “seemingly.”

You’d be pleased if habit words were the only habits you’re aware of having to undo or re-do.

Writing every day is a habit you consider vital.  As your consecutive time of writing every day increases, you see psychological and craft-related benefits, but since it is a habit, there are times when overcoming the inertia of not writing becomes an unpleasing task.  You do not at all resent the writing; you do resent the habit, a resentment that turns irony on its head as the process of resenting the habit rewards you with a vision you had not considered, one worth five or six hundred words and enough inertia to put some work time in on a project.

There have been times when habit meant a condition of repeatedly not doing something, the “something” more often than not becoming the act of writing.  If you repeatedly do not write, you are allowing the negative forces of inertia to overcome the things and causes that contribute to your wanting to work every day.  You are much happier when you write every day with occasional lapses into disliking the habit writing has become than you are not writing, feeling a sense of loss and remove from your stated goals.  Not doing something self-defeating, immoral, immature is positive, even worthy of congratulation, but it is not virtue.  Doing something for the purpose of feeling virtuous is a dangerous act of self-delusion; writers are deluded enough without that; you are deluded enough without self-congratulation.

Habits performed with regularity tend to work their way into muscle memory, actions performed to achieve some goal, perhaps even the goal of propaganda.  How nice it is to do something vital without the need to think about it.  But this sense of niceness is predicated on the outcome of habit, which means to you that you must think with some regularity—dare you say habitually?  Thought processes can and do become habitual, having the quality of making you by degrees arrogant, defensive, deluded, all abstractions unless you apply them to something you have read in the work of others or something you have read in your own work where a knotty moral deadlock is unsprung.

You hereby put yourself on warning not to become a creature of too much habit, only enough to recognize the process and its downstream effects.  You have enough trouble keeping your process clear of academic themes and confrontations as it is.  You’d like to make a habit of the practice.
The danger of doing anything not fun for too much of a time is building a habit of the unpleasant.  Whatever their range of stories, men and women who are happy with their work have found the closest potential for happiness, so long as it does not—well, you get the idea.

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