It’s 2:55 am, the first time I’ve woken up in the middle of the night, and sat down to write. Two things have made me do this.
First, I woke up because the lights just came back. We’ve been in a blackout since 7 pm, and I forgot to flip all the switches off before getting to bed. So when the bulbs lit, they brought me back from slumber.
Sadly, whenever I wake up in the middle of the night, my mind starts to wander and I’ll not catch sleep for at least 2 hours. So I’m there on my bed, staring at the ceiling, looking at two nap hours potentially getting lost to predominantly negative thoughts.
Secondly, I recalled a cool quote I read earlier on (non-verbatim):
“You don’t just become disciplined. It’s only by taking advantage of the opportunities to practice discipline over and over that you turn yourself into a disciplined person.”
In tandem, I remembered how I’ve been wanting to make writing an obsession.
I thought, should I wait for the spirit of obsession to possess me or take this opportunity to write and become an obsessed writer?
In this case, an obsessed writer who wakes up in the middle of the night and struggles to get back to sleep would take out their machine and start writing. Heck, he’d not wait for any inspiration or reason to do that.
So I took out my machine and started writing.
I want to recognize a flaw I possess. I’m the kind of guy who starts doing things with so much passion and rigor but loses the psyche within a week of consistently repeating the habit.
This new-found motivation to write might soon diminish and I’ll find myself struggling to do crazy things like waking up past midnight to write.
But I also hope I’ll remember the reason why I want to do this. I hope I’ll overcome the dwindling motivation so I can keep up with this habit that not many people would. And once I do that, I’ll have accomplished a very significant goal in my life.
I’ve been thinking of ways to reinforce a daily habit of writing.
First, I’ve considered having a daily to-do list that I review just before bed. Unfortunately, I’ve never been consistent with these lists for more than a week since I discovered them. So it might not be the best approach to reinforcing this habit.
The other option is a bit complex.
I’ve thought about who I want to be over the next year. Considering every time you do something your future self would do is a vote to becoming that person, I’ve defined the daily activities I’ll need to undertake.
So I made a spreadsheet, added my daily to-do list activities as rows and days as columns, and check boxes for voting. Every day before bed, I’ll mark the check boxes of accomplished activities to accumulate votes for my future self. I’ll call it the MaaS Project.
I shouldn’t expect to wake up a successful digital writer if I don’t practice what top writers do, should I? So, there goes my plan.
Another strategy I’ve been considering is getting an accountability partner and setting up a penalty for not writing daily. I’d pledge them Ksh. 1,000 for every day I failed to write a brain dump.
This strategy works. One of the longest habit streaks I had was in 2022 when I wrote and published brain dumps for almost a month using this strategy. I couldn’t bear that cost, especially during a tough economic period. So I wrote every day without fail and this is still one of my proudest accomplishments.
However, in this case, I don’t want to involve anyone who has to read these brain dumps to keep me accountable.
I’ve been so dependent on outside factors and people besides myself to make things work.
And I don’t believe the best writers achieved their greatness, primarily due to factors other than self-determination.
If I have to achieve my dreams, I need to love and enjoy writing. That can sustain me through grueling years of writing before my work amounts to anything. So I’m choosing to keep myself accountable.
God gave me everything I need to become a renowned writer; a brain that can think and fingers that can type. I also have a good laptop and a desk I can work from.
I hope to keep up with this daily habit for at least a month. I want to feel what it’s like to be consistent with a habit again. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ll get the feeling.
I’ll try to keep it up for another month, and another. Maybe in a year, it’ll no longer be something I struggle to do, but an obsession.