How Habit Stacking Can Improve Your Writing | Writer’s Relief

Jun 29, 2023 | Writing Tips

How Habit Stacking Can Improve Your Writing | Writer’s Relief

We all have habits, from brushing our teeth immediately after breakfast to writing with a favorite pen to dunking each graham cracker in hot cocoa before taking a bite. Habit stacking is when you identify a current habit you have and attach—or stack—a new behavior you want to develop. This works because our brains are already wired to perform the original task, so a new, stacked habit can also be triggered by the same set of circumstances. The experts at Writer’s Relief have a few tips on how you can use habit stacking to improve your writing.

Habit Stacking Can Help Improve Your Writing

Habit stacking takes advantage of current neural pathways in our brains by adding new actions or steps to an already existing habit or routine, making it easier for us to consistently perform the new action. By stacking the writing habits that you want to develop onto habits you already have, you increase your rate of success.

Be specific. Stack your new habit onto a specific existing habit. A generalized I’ll write every day, or I’ll proofread all my work, or I’ll make more submissions doesn’t help. Instead, choose a particular habit you do consistently: That will be your cue.

Pick a cue. A great example of a good cue and consequent habit is “After I’ve turned off the living room lights, I will check that the front door is locked before going to bed.” This is a clear instruction to do a specific thing at a specific time. You can also apply this strategy to writing habits you want to improve. Examples: “After I’ve cleared the dinner dishes, I will sit at the table and write for 30 minutes.” You can also stack onto a current writing habit: “After I’ve edited a short story, I will immediately get out my red pen and proofread.”

Set yourself up for success. If your busy morning routine includes grabbing breakfast on the go, corralling the kids and dropping them off at school, then heading straight to work, you probably won’t have time to habit stack any actual writing tasks in the mornings. But you can make it easier to write later in the day when things are calmer. For example: Putting a journal on your pillow after you make your bed makes it easier to remember to jot down notes or creative ideas before you go to sleep. You’ll be habit stacking in the morning (“after I make the bed, I’ll put my journal on the pillow”) to facilitate writing in the evening!

Be realistic. Make sure the habit you’re trying to develop is manageable. If you try to stack “I will research all the potential places to submit my work for publication” onto “during my break after I finish eating my lunch,” and it’s only going to be fifteen minutes before you go back to work—this habit stacking isn’t going to be productive. Properly researching and vetting the markets where you should—and shouldn’t—submit your work will realistically take hours and hours.

Repetition and consistency are important for developing a new habit, so don’t be discouraged if it takes you a while to incorporate that activity into your writing life. But once your new routine has taken hold, you’ll have more time to write, produce better quality work, and track down quality markets for submissions.

If you don’t want to spend hours researching where you should make submissions, or you just want to focus on writing, Writer’s Relief can help! Our expert researchers and submission strategists are ready to be your habit stacking assistants. We’ll pinpoint the best markets for your writing to boost your odds of getting published. And our strategies work: Over 90 percent of our short story and poetry clients have received acceptances with our assistance! Learn more about our services, and submit your writing to our Review Board today.


Question: What habits can you stack together to benefit your writing life?