Picking Up Old Writing Habits in New Places

If you haven’t already heard, I moved to a new city. That means a new job, new apartment and a lot of moving boxes to unpack.

It also means learning new streets, new grocery stores, new gas stations, new restaurants, new breweries, new bookstores and new coffeehouses.

Jenny's Ice Cream Trio

And, of course, new ice cream parlors.

Now that I’m somewhere else, I’m re-learning the simplest of things, from when to pay the electric bill to how to work the washer machine.

In short, moving to a new city means re-learning old habits that were once so easy to do that you could do them with your eyes closed or in your sleep.

Sleep! That’s even a new habit when you move. Which side of the room should my bed go? Should my bed face the window or the door? Is it easy to move if I change my mind?

Curious George in Bed Sleeping GIF

In my last city, I had a nightly ritual down pat. I habitually flossed my teeth, washed my face, brushed my teeth and threw on my PJs to cue my mind that it was time to fall asleep.

But without familiar walls and floors, this nightly ritual has become a scattered jigsaw puzzle. Did I floss? Why did I wash my face after brushing my teeth? One night I almost fell sleep in my day clothes.

That’s the mess my writing habit is in. Since I left behind my old writing space and café haunts, my writing hasn’t been the same. It was hard enough to set time for my writing and stick to it when I had so much to juggle while between cities. I thought once my boxes were unpacked, my closets filled and my fridge stocked that I’d jump right back into it. But that hasn’t been the case.

I’m back to making excuses again. I need to get my drivers license. I need to set up a bank account. I need to bust my budget at Bed Bath & Beyond.

True, (most of) these things are important to do. But when I’m seeking out chores before writing, something is definitely messed up.

So, how do I create new writing habits in a new place? I simply replace my old triggers.

Cinderella in bed waking up GIF

When I wake up in the morning, I turn on my phone and check my horoscope (cheesy, I know). That’s my trigger to get out of bed and start my day.

I trained myself to write whenever I drink iced tea, whether it’s a homebrew from my kitchen or a special batch at the local café. It doesn’t matter if I’m sitting on my couch or at a library table—if I’m drinking iced tea, I’m inspired to write.

I just have to pick up my caffeine addiction again. Fortunately tea is light on the caffeine and heavy on the productivity. Some even say that tea is better than drinking coffee for creativity.

Iced tea to go with red straw

But I digress.

I could focus my time on drafting commitment calendars and forcing friends to text me to get back at it. But all that will do is build internal guilt and create enemies.

This could work for you. I just know it won’t work for me. It’s about knowing what motivates you to stick to your writing even when life or the writing gets tough.

My iced tea order is up. Time to start writing!

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