Friday, August 7, 2009

Habit Forming

I've heard contradictory things about how long it takes to form a habit. Anywhere from as little as 7 days, to as many as 6 months. By definition, a habit is "an aquired pattern of behavior that has become almost involuntary as a result of frequent repetition."

As you may know, I am in the midst of writing 50 songs in 90 days. I'm keeping a blog about it, and I'm posting (usually) a couple of songs each week.

At least for now, after a month of an accelerated pace of songwriting, I am in the habit of spending time on writing every day. I think when you're trying to form a new habit, you've gotta get some positive feedback. Like if you're trying to eat healthier you've got to either feel or see (or both) the benefits or it's going to be really hard to stick with it. If your trying to develop the habit of walking your dog every day, you've gotta see that your dog is better behaved, or that you're feeling a new kind of bond with her because of the walks. If you're trying to adopt the habit of making your bed every day, you've got to care that it makes you room look neater or whatever. There's got to be some kind of payoff, or benefit. Otherwise, why would you put in the effort to force a change- to develop a new habit?

With my daily writing practice I am getting the payoff for sure. Nothing makes me feel better than to sit down and create something. I'm amazed that something can come out of nothing. When I get a comment or an email from someone who listened to a song I posted, it just makes me want to put another one out there. Also, as of late, I'm feeling pretty in touch with all of my emotions. Nothing is bottled up. And it feels great.

Habits are hard to make, and fortunately (and unfortunately depending on the habit) hard to break. Once it's really a habit. Once, like that definition says, it's "almost involuntary". I don't expect to involuntarily write songs, but I do hope to find myself walking to my studio and picking up my guitar out of habit, or "frequent repetition". And that simple act of sitting down with my guitar will lead me to writing a song.

Just like: I don't ever find myself involuntarily running, but I do roll out of bed and throw on my running clothes and tennis shoes when I first get out of bed in the morning. That part of it is involuntary, done when I'm still half asleep. So maybe it's just about the first step- the trigger that makes the rest of it happen. That part can become involuntary.

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