I spent the majority of this chilly evening mulling over theme templates and titles. I think I found one I like, but it had an unintended consequence. This new format makes it plain as day when I post and when I (ahem) don’t post. Needless to say, it has been over two months since I last jotted down my thoughts, which is unacceptable. I set out to write as close to weekly as possible if not more frequently than that. Of course the holidays have just come and gone, and while everyone settles in to their new years with what is hopefully optimism, here I am.

The funny thing to me is that I have had several thoughts, or chains of thoughts run through my head that I would have liked to have expanded on in greater detail. This has led me to conclude that my desire to write will be a daily struggle until I adjust my habits. “If you want to write, just write.” I’m not sure how many times I’ve heard that exact phrase, and I’m not sure I want to. It is true, you can not be a writer if you do not write, but that phrase is lacking so much substance. What about good writing habits? What about setting aside time and/or location to give yourself the freedom to write?

Nothing can duplicate the value of writing until you are “numb in the thumb,” (I think I just made that up, but maybe not) but there is more to it then that. I suppose most people who say that to an aspiring writer say it with the best intentions, but if the good habits do not accompany the initial surge of motivation, it will be a much shorter journey than anticipated. You say just write, I say just form habits.

When I served in the Army, one of the first things I was taught was marksmanship. This is, of course, because one of the most fundamental and necessary soldiering skills is the ability to effectively fire your weapon. But before a single round was fired…before a single target was acquired…we took apart the weapon. We learned how the parts fit together, how to load the magazine, how to clean it (boy did we clean!), and how to protect it from the elements. We then learned proper aiming and target acquisition. Mind you, all of this was being done without bullet being fired. The long and the short of it is, we developed habits.

When we finally went to a shooting range, we know our weapons inside and out. Those of us who paid very close attention could usually find our weapon (without looking at serial numbers) in a stack of 10 or more. All the techniques and habits for effective shooting were developed long before we ever loaded a bullet in to a magazine, but when we did the shooting came more naturally. Of course each soldier shot to his or her own proficiency, some people are just more talented shooters.

The point I am trying to make is that once the habits were in place, the act of shooting just felt like a natural extension to everything we had learned up to that point. Writing can be a gateway to any type of world you can think up, but it will be much easier to get to that world with good habits. Don’t stay lazy. Don’t put it off. Find the time to develop a strong back-bone in the discipline of writing…and then just write.

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