We are all creatures of habitual patterns. Patterns are familiar, and they make us feel comfortable. In addition to all of this, we just seem incapable of amending our normal system of operations unless an external action of the universe forces us to change. On a typical weekday, obligations and muscle memory forces us into taking the same steps that we’d taken the day before.
Though, I really shouldn’t be judging.
Barring any unforeseen circumstance that forces me to deviate from my normal course, I am as guilty as anyone in this regard of following my same patterns day in and day out. I have
This habit of following habits unfortunately bleeds over into my writing.
Writers fall into their own particular forces of habits, and I’m no different. Go back and re-read any of the previous posts on this blog or even on my formal writing page. I can guarantee you will be able to find patterns and particulars in my writing across the different genres I’ve written in throughout the years.
I am consistent.
Consistency is a double edged sword in writing I suppose. It helps an author develop their voice and identity when they strive for some similarities as practicing the same techniques makes more perfect writing. The writer can become much more well-known in any particular genre if they stay consistent. Keeping consistent in terms of topic and style also helps gather an audience as readers will be able to better identify the author’s writing apart from others.
On the other hand, never straying from your authorial habits can also bore an audience into a state of disinterest. Seeing the same stories with the same plots being written in the exact same way every time leaves nothing to the imagination, and readers aren’t surprised. Plus, you never get to grow as a writer if you never go beyond your own comfort zone.
Ships are safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships were built for. Writers are safe inside their comfort zone, but that’s not what writers are supposed to do.
…or something like that. Anyway, I can trace my own habitual writing patterns back to one particular place.
Academia. School set me up to stay consistent to a fault.
In fifth grade, we were handed a white piece of paper known as the writing rubric. This sheet of paper outlined exactly everything and nothing about how we as ten and eleven year olds should compose an essay for school. The rubric was supposed to serve as a guideline on every particular mark we had to hit in our own writing. In actuality, it taught me to write in a particular way, to follow the particular structural rules of the academic rules. Not that learning to write professionally is a bad thing, but when it’s the only type of writing you have been asked to write, it can become too habitual.
My writing habits became more particular as I moved along in my academic career. Middle school brought another fun aspect of most academic writing.
You have to write at least so many words and no more than a specified amount for . This caused me to write, edit, and remove words and sentences just to fit within the confines of some numerical structure. I hated then being told I had to limit my thoughts to so many words or less.
Okay, so I’ll be honest here, I get the purpose of word counts. Literary pieces have to be a certain amount of words to suit the need. News articles have to be brief to get their messages across. Non-fiction factual texts cannot waste time on flowery language and must get to the point. I get it and know how to do it and do it well. It’s just a little frustrating.
Now, beyond the confines of academia, I’m trying to figure out how to truly write for myself in-spite of my learned habits.
Writing a memoir or any type of self-reflective, non-fiction piece is one of the most frightening and difficult tasks a writer, even if it’s just for a daily blog. Every day, I face a battle of what I was taught versus what I want to write. These habits and the act of going against them force me to ask myself: Who am I as a writer? Who should I be as a writer? Who do I want to be as a write?
Habits complicate a lot for me as a writer.
Though I will say, this blog has become one of my favorite habits.