Philosophy of writing habit

More info on how the psychology of habit works and how it functions on this site

Studies have shown that three elements are crucial to creating an ongoing habit:

Cue>ritual>reward

Let's break these down individually and talk about how they relate to the site.

1. A cue or prompt causes us to engage in an action. The cue could be anything that causes us to do the action. I will present cues on this website in the form of blog posts that will equip and motivate you to write. I’ll also share outside methods of cuing, such as apps and journaling.

2. The ritual or habit flows from the cue. This is the behavior we are trying to make automatic. For us, it’s the habit of writing. Eventually, the habit can follow from a cue that we don’t even notice anymore. (Example: getting into your car is a cue for the habit of buckling the seatbelt for most people.) This part of the equation is supplied by you, the reader, and it’s the whole reason the site exists. My goal is to help you become so consistent and productive that people eventually come to you for advice on how to finish a book.

3. Reward or incentive is something good that happens after the routine. The reward reinforces the routine so that we repeat it, eventually making it a habit. (In the driving example, the reward is not hearing that annoying beep cars make when the driver doesn’t wear a seat belt.) On this site, reward comes in the form of community encouragement and success sharing in our forums. In the future, we'll explore other ways to reward. (Let me know if you have ideas.)

The whole idea of this habit loop is that this series of cue, ritual, and reward is repeated until a behavior is ingrained. These factors can be identified in any habit, whether good or bad. Examples of good habits are exercise or morning routines. Beyond the Blinking Cursor creates a good habit in the shape of writing. We’ll explore the ingredients that will best enforce a powerful consistency.*

Community accountability and encouragement

Beyond the Blinking Cursor seeks to build a community of writers who share a common goal of growing consistency in their writing habit with the objective of writing a book. One of the ways the site accomplishes this is by encouraging members to engage on the site through the following means.

Blog comments

If you read the blog posts that I write, please comment! Most blog readers miss this opportunity online. Let me tell you, commenting on blog post has huge benefits for a blog: it increases the visibility of a post on search engines like Google, it deeply encourages the author (obviously, this is one of my favorite reasons), and it also does a great deal to build relationships among readers and the blog author. Please comment, even if you don’t agree with something I’ve said!

Forums

I’ll be adding more threads in the forums over time. For now, the main idea is to share and comment on writing goals. Share your goals and your progress. Comment on the goals and progress of the other users. Don’t underestimate the value of doing these things. And because I’m a firm believer in the importance of practicing what I preach, I’ll be posting a weekly update on my own progress.

My progress

As a mentioned above, I’ll be sharing weekly about my goals and progress. This site is about my journey to finish a book just like my readers. I’m going to be brutally honest about when I fail just like when I succeed. I hope the updates will encourage my readers to do the same.

I need your help!

I’ve sketched out the initial organization for the site here, but it’s by no means set in stone. Please tell me what works and what doesn’t. Comment here or in the forum. I’ll be tinkering over the months to come, figuring out what works best for me and for readers in our journey to write our books.

*(For more information about the habit loop, I highly recommend the book The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.