Books that will change your writing life: Gretchen Rubin’s The Four Tendencies

My love for all things Gretchen Rubin has only grown stronger over time.

Whilst I enjoyed her New York Times Bestselling book The Happiness Project, my favourites amongst her books would have to Better Than Before and The Four Tendencies (and to say this book has changed my life would not be an exaggeration.) The first of these titles is about habits – how we form them and how we change them – and the latter is about the different ways that different people response to both inner and outer expectations.

What her books (and listening to her podcast Happier with Gretchen Rubin) have to offer writers is this: when we know ourselves better we are able to ask more from ourselves.

There are lots of practical strategies that can easily be applied to writing from Gretchen’s books.

Some of my favourites include:

  • Scheduling: Making an actual appointment in your diary is a great way of making sure you setting time aside to write.
  • Pairing: Put together two things that can only be done together. For example, you only get to have your morning cup of coffee if you’re sitting at your desk doing your words.
  • Monitoring: Have a way of tracking your progress. This might be a word count tally or a calendar where you are trying not to break the chain.
  • Convenience: Make it easy to do right and hard to go wrong. Don’t plan on writing at the coffee shop across town as having to get there can be inconvenient. Instead, choose the closest one to your house or go for the library that is slightly further away but that has the easiest parking.
  • Know yourself: I’m an Obliger so I need outer accountability to really get things done. Knowing this has meant, for example, that I will now ask my publisher, editor or mentor for a specific deadline for when they need a task complete. This makes it a priority on my list of tasks as I feel very accountable to others.

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