My habit

Oh, don’t worry, it’s nothing bad.

Nothing like vice or anything.

I mean, of course I have vices: ice cream, HBO binge watching, cookies: you know, the good stuff. (Thought: maybe not too good for my waistline).

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These look really, really good

Time to go all English teacher on you

“Habit” comes from a Latin word meaning “condition” or “appearance.” Think of how the word “habit” is used to describe a priest’s or nun’s clothing, and you’ve got a sense of the original meaning.

The more common meaning is to denote “physical or mental constitution” or an acquired behavior. Eating cookies – habitually – is a pretty good life goal. I mean, after all, they’re so good, especially when cooked at home. Unfortunately, eating cookies on a frequent basis is too easy as the store (several stores) is not that difficult to reach.

Done is better than perfect

Developing good habits: these – can be – hard.

Exercising.

Reading more.

Being a better listener.

Volunteering in my community.

And, the point of this post, publishing online more often.

Writing to write – the act, the exercise – is valuable. Get it on paper/online; put the paint on the canvas or arrange the flowers in the vase. Just, well, do it. Practice does not make perfect – it makes permanent. The act, the habit of not writing – or not posting online – makes it easier to not post.

In another lifetime, I was a newspaper reporter. I believe that a bit of an inaccurate description. I’ve always been partial to thinking of myself as a writer. Certainly not in the sense of Hemingway,  Dorothy Parker, or Terry Southern, but I thought of a reporter as an investigator, (ideally) striving, in whatever small way, to help the community. I just wrote. Oh, I talked to people, but I wasn’t an investigator; I just wrote, and did it so much that I  got good at it. Not Jessica Silver-Greenberg good, but “local” good.

I improved (it was “unpolished” at first) because it became a habit. Yes, it was my “job.” But, my habit was to write, habitually, daily, often; write, edit, polish, re-write (when time). It was also interesting writing with my editor standing over my shoulder, looking at a watch and saying, “you’ve got 10 minutes to finish or it doesn’t make the paper.”

I’ll (usually) ask my students to write about 200 words for an informal blog post, especially early on in the school year. Some, of course, will be longer. Much longer. Maybe even some will be a bit shorter. But once we develop the habit of publishing online, getting that content, those ideas, that creativity and innovation, out to others will be a good habit.

 

— Gill

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