How I Got Over Writer's Block #2: Don't Break the Chain + Celebrate

Image Credit: Miltiadis Fragkidis on Unsplash

How I Got Over Writer's Block is a series of posts where I share the ways I changed my approach to the writing process in order to make it easier to actually sit down and do the work.

By re-framing key elements in the creative process, I was able to start writing and publishing consistently.

In my first post of this series, I outlined how to overcome Resistance (that thing that stops you from sitting down to do your work) by simply learning to Touch the Keys (finding the tiniest task that you can commit to doing every day).

Now we move onto Step 2 of the process; Don't Break the Chain + Celebrate.

Step 2 - Don't break the chain is an idea that Jerry Seinfeld talks about for how he committed to the process of writing jokes daily and it's as simple as it sounds: don't break the chain. For every day that he wrote jokes, he would mark his calendar with a big red X. Then he made sure not to "break the chain" - to fill the entire calendar with red X's.

That might seem hard to do, but if you've learned to TTK (finding the tiniest task that you can commit to doing every day) then you can create an unbreakable chain.

I've broken my chain this month, however, I still get satisfaction from seeing my progress, because in September I sat down to write maybe two or three times the entire month. And now I write more often than not.

Progress baby, progress.

Image Credit: Author

Because I'm noticing a pattern from the above (which tells me I'm struggling to sit down to write on weekends) I can make a conscious effort to work on that.

The benefit of tracking anything is seeing where the main points of struggle are so that we can fix them.

Step 2.1 is learning to CELEBRATE.

In his book Tiny Habits, BJ Fogg outlines the importance of celebrating in the process of implementing new habits.

Humans seek pleasure and avoid pain. If there's a habit we want to do but consistently fail to do, it's because on some level we associate pain with it. So we need to find a way to associate pleasure with it in order to repeat it and develop a new habit.

The way we do that is by CELEBRATING.

When we've successfully completed our new tiny habit (when we've Touched the Keys) then we need to reward ourselves somehow. (For more details on how to do this, read Tiny Habits.)

For me, putting a gold star on my calendar is the way that I celebrate. I remember when I was in grade school, how happy I was to get my homework back from the teacher with a shiny gold-foil star on it. Gold stars have a positive association in my mind, so I always feel happy when, after my writing, I get to give myself one. That's positive reinforcement, that's CELEBRATING.

Other celebrations I've used are fist pumping while shouting "YOU CAN DO IT!!!" or doing a 30-second spastic dance routine to the 1988 Crystal Light Aerobic Championship theme song. (I don't know why this works for me, but it really does.)

And that's it. Small things that have big results.

To recap:

Step 1 is overcoming Resistance by learning to Touch the Keys.

Step 2 is using Touch the Keys to avoid Breaking the Chain, and to Celebrate every time you add to the Chain.

Until next time, write on!

Image Credit: Marcos Paulo Prado on Unsplash


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