An introduction to entropy and how to keep your new writing habit

Did you read my last post on building a life long writing habit? If yes, how’s the new writing habit coming along?

If you followed my challenge in the last post, you would have written for at least 15 minutes in the last 5 days. I actually wrote for a total of 40 minutes,  ending up with 611 words. I’m feeling quite confident about my new habit already.

611 words seems like an awfully small number, doesn’t it?

It is, but think about it, even if I only wrote 611 words for the next 1 year, I’d have written over 31,000 words. So the first draft of a novel I’ve been thinking about for years. Thinking, but not writing.

The truth is, I’ve written a few thousand words since my 5 day run with Tiny Habits.

Ok, so now you’ve done five days of this. What next?

Entropy.

Entropy is the natural tendency of things to lose order. And here’s the crucial thing about entropy: it always increases over time.

James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, illustrates this nicely on his blog:

If you build a sand castle on the beach and return a few days later, it will no longer be there. There is only one combination of sand particles that looks like your sand castle. Meanwhile, there are a nearly infinite number of combinations that don't look like it.

Again, in theory, it is possible for the wind and waves to move the sand around and create the shape of your sand castle. But in practice, it never happens. The odds are astronomically higher that sand will be scattered into a random clump.


Essentially, everything always tends towards disorder.

The pull of entropy is relentless. Everything decays. Disorder always increases.

Morbid stuff huh! But that’s the default. It’s one of the most fundamental laws of the universe. The only way to keep things in order is to apply considerable external force.

That’s why new habits you work so hard to build, fade away quickly. The universe is conspiring to take your new writing habit away from you.

You miss one day, and a cognitive version (I’m not sure if there is one) of the Broken Windows Theory comes into play. I’ve been through it for every habit I’ve built. I’m breezing along nicely with my new tiny habit and an unforeseen circumstance will disrupt the schedule for a day or two. That begins a mental domino effect. On the third day, keeping the habit is a little less important. And a little less on the fourth. And so it goes…

Before the new habit is gone forever, it takes that slight push, an external force, to check on the few habits that are still young and need nurturing. I find that I have to go back to them if I find myself slacking. And there will inevitably be days you begin slacking. That’s entropy doing its thing. The first sign of disorder setting in.

Are you slacking with your writing?

Set a reminder on WRITAA for that time when you could use a little extra push. An external force to help you stick to the habit.

I’ll end with a quote from Leo Tolstoy “Productive writers are all alike; every unproductive writer is unproductive in their own way.”

Next up an introduction to entropy and how to keep your writing habit >>

Build a writing habit.

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