A Note on Scaling

I’ve been thinking a lot on what I want my writing habit to look like, and I feel my final picture is one that will have cross over to most other habits.

Habit formation is the focus of this project, but it’s not the entire end game. Mastery of skills is. And so scaleability of tasks and pushing for constant improvement to bust out of plateaus is key.

When I think of my writing habit, it starts with fear. I’m afraid to just write due to various reasons. So step 1 is simply overcoming that initial fear response. Train and train until the response is action to the task rather than putting it off.  To do this I implement a small habit. Small sized habits - like doing 2 pushups or writing 50 words - make it ludicrous to NOT start or do the task in a day.

Step 2 is making it so that the task - writing in this case - isn’t just something I have to do in a day. It’s like breathing. It’s like brushing my teeth. It’s a part of my daily routine. And an advanced version of this - the superhabit - means that it would take more effort to not do it than to do it.

This is all well and good, but this can, for some tasks, land you squarely in a cycle of churning mud in place. Do 50 words, but they can be crappy words. You need to push past, and this can be done in various ways. For bodyweight exercises its doing more. I went from two burpees to 24. And this is step 3 - extending the habit. I did this with burpees by simply recording them. By recording, I was forced to distance myself and look at what I was doing. Naturally you want to slowly do more.

In writing I’m doing this naturally. And I’ve started to emphasize this by recording how many words I do. And I will continue to do this, and it’s a great thing right now. But very soon I will need more than just quantity. I’ll need quality.

So enter step 4. With working out it’s following a version of a scaled strength plan. So instead of just adding to the number of pushups I can do I mix it up. I do back bends and abs. I do more and more difficult exercises. And this is exactly what I will need for writing.

I envision a plan where I have one day where I work on transitions. One day where I work on pitches, and one day where I work on specific chinks in my writing armor. Maybe for one month I work on one thing, and then I move on. Maybe I take a class. I don’t know.

What I do know is that it has to be targeted.  It can’t be just taking a general easy class, because then complacency rises up - it’s easy to write 50 crap words, but improvement doesn’t come through anything but uncomfort.

I’ve tried a version of this with eating - I challenged myself to not eat bread for a month. Could I do more? Yes. What about other habits? Could I improve in recording? Absolutely - I can memorize the SRHI and take it in my head. Meditation? Sure.

The picture I have in my mind is being tossed into a module. I might have craziness happening in my life as a whole, but at X time I’m tossed into a totally dark room with nothing but the next preplanned module that forces me to grow. The room is completely unaffected by the outside world or other adjoining rooms. And the training, for the set duration of time, is perfect for my abilities at the time - not too easy, not too hard, but just right to force me to grow. Then I’m tossed back out into the real world and can totally forget that room. That, to me, is my mental image of proper training and regimentation.