Writer’s Sabotage: Naming and Claiming Our Worst Habits and Embracing Our Best

In the freshness of August, everything seemed possible.  A new school year.  Pencils were sharp. Apathy didn’t exist yet.

At that time, my students and I set goals.  And we took an honest inventory of the personal barriers that stood in our way as well as the habits we wanted to cultivate to assist us in achieving our goals.

But now we are three months in—one week and two days away from Thanksgiving Break—and I can see the sluggishness, the fatigue, the caving to our old habits instead of forging new habits that lead to realizing our goals.

Sometimes our best intentions are buried under the avalanche of life.  And the first step to digging out is naming the time stealers, being honest about how we contribute to our own dysfunction, realizing how we sabotage our goals.

On Monday, I will ask students to read the list of behaviors they need to avoid and the list of habits they need to develop. Many of the hurtles they named are the same pitfalls all writers feel as they struggle to complete a creative project.

Here is our list. Here’s to recalibrating,  to finishing out the year by avoiding our worst habits and cultivating better ones.

Barriers to Overcome Habits to Cultivate
·         Too much time spent reading

·         Drinking too much caffeine

·         Procrastinating all the time

·         Being afraid to attempt something

·         Distracting myself

·         Lying to myself about distracting myself

·         Apathy

·         Last minute writing

·         Online shopping

·         Staying up too late

·         Wasting time on the Internet

·         Binge watching TV

·         Smoking

·         Drinking too much

·         Staying up late

·         Putting stuff off

·         Being an asshole

·         Putting TV and books before my writing

·         Having no initial self confidence

·         Procrastination through apathy

·         Relying on clichés

·         Staring at the disco ball all class

·         Talking/laughing/sleeping in class

·         Getting fat

·         Overwriting

·         Saying “I’ll do it later.”

·         Peer Pressure

·         Believing that saying you’re a writer is what the entire Internet does and that everyone’s already finished a novel

·         Giving up before I even try

·         Fear of not getting things right

·         Controlling volume and narrative excess

·         Believing that I don’t have what it takes to be a writer

·         Being okay with silence

·         Driving me word count

·         Draining laptop batteries

·         Writing

·         Learning language

·         Loving myself

·         Reading

·         Sleeping

·         Caring

·         Hard work

·         Time management

·         Observing details

·         Understanding people

·         Taking risks

·         Doing research outside of class

·         Filling notebooks (committing to them)

·         Looking for story ideas

·         Looking at new genres of writing

·         Submitting stuff

·         Thinking

·         Sitting up with the empty page/the pencil

·         Life, in general

·         Doing things, in general

·         Goodness/decency/closure

·         Compliments/taking compliments

·         Self-control/restraint

·         Progress

·         Time management

·         Not procrastinating

·         Books

·         Exercise

·         Myself

·         Conciseness

·         Narrative poems

·         $WAG

·         Minimalism

·         Spell check

·         Coffee