The Dangerous Consequence of Writing Routines

Don’t let habit make you forget.

Except the weeks I am organized enough to plan ahead, every single day, I sit down at my computer with a cup of coffee. And I write a blog post.

This has become a habit. The reason I am able to post so consistently is that it has become so embedded into my routine that I feel slightly off-center when I take the occasional day off.

Many would love to form a routine like this, where writing becomes habitual enough that most of the time it is neither a struggle nor a joyful distraction.

It’s not always a good thing though, to be able to sit down and write without questioning the motive.

Because you sit down, and you write. But you do not ask yourself why you are doing it.

Your purpose for writing the things you write risks becoming lost in the mundane.

Sometimes this means writing loses its sparkle. You no longer think, “Yes, I get to write a blog post today!” Because you do that every day, and it’s no longer a thing that carries exhilaration.

I am a creative human who thrives on routine. Routine keeps me calm in moments of uncertainty. It keeps me feeling purposeful when doubt lurks at the corners of my motivation.

But every once in awhile — like the last week of every year — I break away from all routine. On purpose. I schedule all blog posts as far ahead as I can, so that I do not write any. I take time off of work. I forbid myself from doing anything that has even the slightest hint of obligation attached to it.

I do this not because I want to take a break from writing or work or life in general, but because after so many months of operating on autopilot, I need to give my brain room to think. To imagine. To decide whether or not how I have just spent my year is worth repeating.

I ask myself, are you still passionate about the things you are creating? Because if I am, I need to remind myself of it. And if I’m not, I need to ease myself into a place where I can walk away from the endeavors that only bring me stress and anxiety and never fulfillment or joy.

I realized as I sat down to write this post that it’s been a long time since I’ve thought of why I do this. The sitting down, the brainstorming ideas I hope you’ll find worthy of consuming, the writing, the hesitating to hit publish, the hitting publish anyway.

I am a passionate creator. I put all the effort I can into everything I do. I have no desire to spend my often very limited energy on things I no longer care about.

We all need these times of reflection. To remember the why. Whether you reflect daily or weekly or only a few times a year, don’t neglect the practice. Remember why you are doing what you’re doing. Write it down. Because the moment you forget your purpose is the moment you stop actively creating, and start mindlessly producing.

And that’s not the kind of work any creator wants to do.

So will you take the time to ask yourself the question: why?

The answer may surprise you, excite you, disappoint or terrify you. But that’s why we reflect. It’s how we grow. It’s how we learn to be honest with ourselves and actively decide to do — or not to do — the things we’ve just come to assume we still want to do.

Growth is what we all strive for. How we go about it isn’t all that different from person to person. But the results are. And that’s what matters. That you’re going where you want to go, because you want to, and not just because you feel you should.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

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