One of my New Year’s resolutions this year was to write “morning pages.” I wanted to write 750 words every morning before work. When I’ve stuck with it, this practice has proved fruitful, yielding blog post ideas and helping me journal daily.
But actually establishing that habit is difficult. How do you learn to write every day? How do you overcome the intimidating specter of the blank page? How do you work around your self-critical hang-ups—those gnawing fears that encourage procrastination and discourage creativity?
In short, you force yourself. You gag down the part of you that protests new habits and just choke down your medicine for a few weeks. You grit your jaw, you glue your ass to the chair, you are ruthless with yourself. You git ’er done. Before long, you’ve made it an automatic, daily rhythm.
Being mean to yourself isn’t much fun. What if you could outsource it? What if someone—or something—else cracked the whip?
More concretely: what if your PC wouldn’t unlock in the morning until you generated 1000 words? Boot up the machine, and—instead of a password prompt—a blank canvas pops up. Your laptop refuses to do anything until you’ve made the clackity-clacky noise. No “I’ll just check Twitter real quick before I write” or “I can’t think of anything; maybe Reddit will generate some ideas.” And definitely no “I’m not feeling up to it today; I’ll start fresh tomorrow.”
Just a big, blank text box. Nothing else ’til you make the words. Start typing, or forget doing anything else that day.
Of course, you could cheat. Just bang the keys until you reach the minimum word count. But at least then you’re consciously sabotaging yourself. The point isn’t to create a fool-proof mechanism for self-improvement. The point is just throw a few low roadblocks on the path to passivity and malaise. ↩