Friday, June 3, 2016

Ideas and Habits

So how, exactly does one have fun with quotes?
Glad you asked! If you’re like me, you start by exchanging quotes on a daily basis with your best bud. But not just any quotes, writing quotes, to give each other inspiration. And then you pick the two best quotes of the week to share with the rest of the world - because ... why not? :-D

It was incredibly hard to pick a quote from Jamie this week - they were all really good ones. But finally I settled on this one:

At one time I used to keep notebooks with outlines for stories. But I found doing this somehow deadened the idea in my imagination. If the notion is good enough, if it truly belongs to you, then you can't forget it--it will haunt you till it's written.
Truman Capote

All I can say is, Truman Capote must have had an excellent memory. I have to write my ideas down so I don’t forget them. Of course by the time I get to that stage they’ve been playing through my mind like a movie on continuous play as I refine them. Once I stop changing them in my head, they’re ready to be written down.

Or maybe Truman wasn’t plagued by a plethora of ideas the way I am. ;-)

I have file folders full of ideas, I usually write down at least enough to jog my memory, and every once in awhile I’ll revisit them in search of something new to write. Sometimes what I end up writing is totally different from what I first imagined when I wrote the idea down, as was the case with my first book, An Elemental Wind, but it gives me a starting point.

Technically, the Truman Capote quote could be said to be writing advice, so for my own quote I tried to pick something similar:

One hasn't become a writer until one has distilled writing into a habit, and that habit has been forced into an obsession. Writing has to be an obsession. It has to be something as organic, physiological and psychological as speaking or sleeping or eating.
~ Niyi Osundare

I think to be a successful writer one almost has to have an obsession for it. And as I said to Jamie in the email I sent this quote to her in, that’s also what makes us crazy when we don’t write. Most writers I know have day jobs, so we fit writing in around our daily lives. But even when writing becomes a habit or an obsession, life occasionally interferes and the writing just doesn’t get done.

And if too many non-writing days go by... If writing is truly an obsession, then you’ll find the time, no matter what. And even if you can’t you can usually pick up where you left off. But if it’s more of a habit, then you face the danger of getting out of the habit when too many days go by without writing anything.

For a long time it was believed that it only took 21 days to develop a habit. However, new research has shown that it actually takes an average of 66 days of doing something before it becomes a habit. Sixty-six days!

Bad habits, like smoking, can take almost as long to break. But speaking from experience, good habits take way less time to fall by the wayside.

So make writing your obsession, not just your habit.

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