Atomic Habits for 200wad daily writing

Published on Aug 6, 2019

Just as a thought experiment: What if we applied the habit hacks in the book Atomic Habits to 200wad and the habit of daily writing?

Quick recap: 4 laws of behaviour change (for good and bad habits)

  • Cue - Make it obvious/Make it invisible
  • Craving - Make it attractive/unattractive
  • Response - Make it easy/difficult
  • Reward - Make it satisfying/unsatisfying


The 1st Law - Make It Obvious

Fill out the Habits Scorecard. Write down your current habits to become aware of them.

- what if we wrote down our current habits in a day, especially the habits around the time we want to write? Writing it down is taking inventory, and creates greater awareness of which habits might be roadblocks to writing consistently.

Use implementation intentions: “I will [BEHAVIOUR] at [TIME] in [LOCATION].”

- setting intentions for daily writing is useful. Say something like, "I WILL WRITE 200 WORDS A DAY, AT 9PM AT MY STUDY TABLE." In caps for added effect haha. 

Use habit stacking: “After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT].”

- borrow the 'momentum' of current deeply entrenched habits right around the time when you want to write. For example, create a nice ritual like "After washing the dishes and doing the chores for the day, I will be able to sit down and write 200 words with a cup of tea."  

Design your environment. Make the cues of good habits obvious and visible.

- you could print the intention statements from the previous 2 points and paste it at visible places around the house (at say, the kitchen if that's where you'll usually be before writing). Or set (multiple) alarms that go off every 30min as it nears 12 midnight. 

Reduce exposure. Remove the cues of your bad habits from your environment.

- what might be some bad habits that get in the way of you writing daily? Sometimes, I mindlessly scroll through my phone and almost forget to write. Reduce exposure and make the phone more 'invisible' by putting it in a drawer so that you wouldn't look at it until after you written.

The 2nd Law - Make It Attractive

Use temptation bundling. Pair an action you want to do with an action you need to do.

- using the previous example, perhaps it's tempting for me to scroll through Youtube as a way to just chill out at the end of the day. So I would bundle watching Youtube videos with writing - "I will watch Youtube videos after writing 200 words."

Join a culture where your desired behaviour is the normal behaviour.

- being part of 200wad community, you already are part of a culture where writing daily is the norm. Try to connect more with other writers here, read their posts, leave comments, reply their posts, so that more of the peer influence might rub off.

Create a motivation ritual. Do something you enjoy immediately before a difficult habit.

- perhaps there's some music that you love to listen to when you write. And writing with a cup of tea/coffee gets you in the mood. So create a motivation ritual to 'warm up' and kickstart the writing. Play the music, make the tea, and let the writing come.

Reframe your mindset. Highlight the benefits of avoiding your bad habits.

- if the bad habit that makes me forget to write is looking at my phone too much, then writing actually helps me avoid too much mindless consumption of the internet and prevents my brain from turning into mush. 


The 3rd Law - Make It Easy

Reduce friction. Decrease the number of steps between you and your good habits.

- reduce steps to achieving a nicely written 200 words by writing in point form, not caring about grammar or structure, or writing the end first or not in linear manner. It's gets easier once you have some written content laid out.  

Prime the environment. Prepare your environment to make future actions easier.

-  prime your environment to help you, by say, logging on to 200wad first, and moving your laptop to within sight where you are at, instead of say, having to climb upstairs to your study room to write. Have the music already playing, or time it to start at the time you plan to write, so that the space is ready for you even before you sit down.

Master the decisive moment. Optimize the small choices that deliver outsized impact.

- sometimes we forget to write because of small choices we made a few hours before that. For instance, if I get home too late after work, everything gets pushed back and by the time I am done with dinner, chores, etc, it might be too late. So I make it a point to get home by 7pm. If I have an evening appointment, I plan ahead and have some points/content ready.

Use the Two-Minute Rule. Downscale your habits until they can be done in two minutes or less.

- the 2min rule is what the low bar of 200 words is meant to do. The book mentions that you can downscale your habit into smaller habits, e.g. if perhaps your goal is to write 1000 words per day eventually, then start with 200 for the first month, then 400 next, then progressively scale up once you are comfortable at the previous level.  

Automate your habits. Invest in technology and onetime purchases that lock in future behaviour.

- not sure how we can automate writing, but we can automate other cues to trigger your writing. Imagine you ask your partner create a automated shortcut (using Zapier/IFTTT) that switches off your wifi by 10pm unless you post 200 words which will then deactivate that shortcut for the day.

Increase friction. Increase the number of steps between you and your bad habits.

- besides just putting your phone away in a drawer to prevent distraction before writing, you could take it a step further and leave it upstairs in the bedroom, inside a locked drawer, where the key is in another room downstairs. It sounds excessive and forced, but sometimes to create new habits we got to do weird things.

Use a commitment device. Restrict your future choices to the ones that benefit you.

- going Patron is a possible commitment device. We pay for it when our intention is strong to write everyday, and later on when we falter in our discipline, the money committed earlier will make it harder to not do it. 


The 4th Law - Make It Satisfying

Use reinforcement. Give yourself an immediate reward when you complete your habit.

- perhaps you love dessert and you can forgo dessert until you had finished writing 200 words. Create a reward if you don't already do it.

Make “doing nothing” enjoyable (for bad habits). When avoiding a bad habit, design a way to see the benefits.

- "I enjoy not looking at my phone so much, and instead being more productively engaged by writing."

Use a habit tracker. Keep track of your habit streak and “don’t break the chain.”

- this is the streak feature of 200wad. To make it more physical, you can use an actual paper calendar and cross off the days you wrote, so that you don't break the chain.

Never miss twice. When you forget to do a habit, make sure you get back on track immediately.

- nothing to add here. Broke your streak? Jump right back on, and start writing the very next day. Don't miss more than 2 days.

Get an accountability partner. Ask someone to watch your behaviour.

- get an accountability partner on 200wad, or a friend or your partner. Get them to check in on you daily whether you have written your 200 words or not.

Create a habit contract. Make the costs of your bad habits public and painful.

- Create a printed text document and state your commitment to writing 200 words a day habit, lay out progressive roadmap, state daily smaller habits, list the punishment if fail (e.g. a fine of $200), and sign off with accountability partners.