If you have decided to establish a blog as a home platform then you need to write on a regular basis. Getting a blog up and running with WordPress is relatively easy which is one of the reasons there are “over 100,000 WordPresses are created every day” according to WordPress Stats. Most blogs that are started don’t last usually because it is tough to find the time to regularly write blog posts. However many people squeeze in time from the far corners of their daily lives for one reason; they have made writing a habit. Once you create the proper triggers the habit of writing becomes a joy rather than a burden. The following primer is part one of a two part series based on The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg (affiliate link, thank you!), that will help to establish the habit of regularly writing blog posts.
The Power of Habit
According to Charles Duhigg, there are four stages at the core of creating habits. When you get people to go through these then habits are formed that will even over-ride common sense. The power behind any habit is the ability to invoke emotional triggers that even over-ride the rational mind. Advertisers have known this for decades and have used it to create a desired habit for products such as cigarettes, computers, phones, cereals, and more. The good news? Although habits never go away once they are formed, the triggers and intended outcomes are within anyone’s grasp to update. More on that in a moment but first the core three step loop of habit formation.
The Three Step Loop
There is a three step loop of cue, routine, and reward that creates a foundation for any habit to form:
“This process within our brains is a three-step loop First, there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional. Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the I future: Over time, this loop—cue, routine, reward; cue, routine, reward-becomes more and more automatic. The cue and reward become intertwined until a powerful sense of anticipation and craving emerges. Eventually, whether in a chilly MIT laboratory or your driveway, a habit is born.”
An example of a loop might be feeling a little hungry mid-morning (cue), going to the vending machine for a snack (routine), and then eating the snack (reward). Although this example is simple enough figuring out what cues, routines, and rewards drive you can take some time and experimentation.
Updating an Existing Habit
According to Duhigg, the fastest way to create a beneficial habit is to update the routine of an existing one. This leverages the built-in history of existing cues and rewards. The example above could turn beneficial by changing the routine of going to the vending machine for processed food to getting fresh veggies instead.
The only problem in this example is the vending machine food might provide a greater reward than fresh veggies. Duhigg talks about how powerful rewards are in establishing a habit or updating an existing. It is better when the reward doesn’t change.
Of course you usually have to dig into a habit loop to understand why you do something. For example, is going reason for going to the vending machine for the food, for a short break, or do you end up talking to someone when you go? Your reward may be conversation and a break. Duhigg says the best way to figure this out is by writing down notes that piece together when and why habits take place.
Starting Solid Writing Habits From Scratch
The easiest way to creating a solid writing habit is to update an existing routine as shown above. If you don’t have an existing habit that you want or can update, then you will need to create one from scratch. Duhigg provides the following framework for identifying existing habits but this can work as easily for creating habits from scratch:
- Identify the routine
- Experiment with rewards
- Isolate a cue
- Have a plan