Become a Better Writer by Revolutionizing Your Habits, Part 2 3

This is Part 2 of an exploration of the new book, Atomic Habits, by James Clear and how habits change the way you think and who you perceive yourself to be.

In Part 1, I provided an introduction to Atomic Habits and the reasons that our habits, desirable or undesirable, are core to our identity — who we believe ourselves to be. And why habits are the driving factor for our successes and failures when it comes to making progress or achieving our goals.

A quick note about the way I label habits: I prefer using the terms “desirable” and “undesirable” rather than “good” or “bad,” because good and bad implies some sort of moral judgment, whereas desirable and undesirable simply describes whether you want or don’t want a particular behavior or habit in your life. And it’s more fluid. What is desired at one point may become undesirable at another.

Anyway, today I want to dive into Clear’s rules for creating desirable habits.

But first, take a moment to reflect on the habits you already have. Divide a page of your journal into two columns. Title the left column “Habits I Want to Have” and title the right column “Habits I Want to Dump.”

Now, in the left column list the habits you would like to add to your life (or have been working on unsuccessfully). And in the right column, list the habits you’d like to get rid of. Remember that habits are behaviors that are automatic or nearly so — actions that you don’t have to think too much about to do.

My journal page looks something like this:

Habits I Want to Have

Habits I Want to Dump

  • Going to bed by 10 on weeknights
  • Going to bed too late/not getting enough sleep
  • Practice piano every day – 30 min.
  • Snacking in the evenings


  • Too much sitting/standing in one place


  • Too much iPhone screen time


  • Distracting myself from my creative writing with other activities, such as email, reading other blog posts, etc.

Right away, I can see there are more habits I’d like to get rid of than there are to add. Over the last few years I’ve successfully added several positive habits to my life, such as exercising regularly and eating healthy meals. However there are a few others I’m still working on, such as a productive and daily creative writing habit (I do sit down each day to write, but tend to distract myself with answering emails or working on blog posts instead of my book in progress.) And I can also see that a habit I want to have — getting to bed by 10 — has, as its opposite, the undesirable habit of staying up late.

Now it’s your turn. What are your want-to-have and want-to-dump habits? Write these down before continuing…


Time magnifies the margin between success and failure. It will multiply whatever you feed it. Good habits make time your ally. Bad habits make time your enemy. — James Clear


The next step is to pick one of the habits you want to incorporate into your life and consider the ways you can make it happen. Creating a new habit is not about discipline. It’s not about gritting your teeth and making it happen.

According to Clear, there are 4 rules or laws to creating a new habit and making it stick:

  1. Make it obvious
  2. Make it attractive
  3. Make it easy
  4. Make it satisfying

Let’s do a little brainstorming with each of these principles, keeping our desired habit in mind.

I’m going to pick the desired habit of being in bed by 10:00 pm on weeknights. Being sleep deprived affects my writing life. It makes me less sharp. My creativity is blunted, words come slower, and everything seems full of effort. In contrast, when I’m rested, I experience increased energy, clarity, mental acuity and creativity.

Because my desired habit has a corresponding undesirable habit — going to bed late and ending up being chronically sleep deprived — I will have to deal with this on both fronts. For now, I’m just going to focus on how to create a new habit. (In a future article, I’ll talk about how to get rid of an undesirable one.)

Journaling Prompts:

  • What are some ways you can make your desired habit more obvious?
  • What are ways you can make it more attractive?
  • How can you make your habit easy?
  • How can you make your new habit immediately satisfying?

In my case, I can make my desired habit of being in bed by 10:00 on weeknights more obvious by setting an alarm and also tracking it on my calendar. I can make it more attractive by pairing it with something I love to do, such as read. Or I could change up my bedtime routine to include a nice hot bath with bath salts (both of which would also cover making it more satisfying as well). I could make it easier by scaling back gradually, going to bed 10 minutes earlier each night or every couple of nights, so that it’s not such a big change. I could also enlist the help of my partner.

These are just some of the ways that occurred to me as I was brainstorming.

Using the 4 laws of habit forming, how many ways can you find to help establish your new habit?

* Atomic Habits by James Clear on Amazon


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

3 thoughts on “Become a Better Writer by Revolutionizing Your Habits, Part 2