Developing and Cultivating Consistent Writing Habits in High School: The Power of Small Steps
5 minute read
Even if we might not be aware of it, almost every action we perform is a product of our habits. From brushing our teeth to starting homework after school, habits dictate much of how we spend our time.
This is especially true for Polygence students, who spend considerable time with their mentors to design and implement sustainable research and writing habits on top of their schoolwork and extracurriculars.
However, the path to becoming a proficient writer or researcher is often paved with challenges, such as procrastination and inconsistency. High schoolers can harness the power of forming writing habits by starting small, rewarding themselves, and building momentum to counter these obstacles. By employing these strategies, they can lay the foundation for a consistent writing practice that will serve them well throughout their lives.
The prospect of committing to a daily writing routine can be overwhelming, especially for busy high school students juggling various responsibilities. This is where the concept of "starting small" comes into play. Instead of diving headfirst into hours of writing each day, begin with a manageable goal. For instance, set aside 10 to 15 minutes daily to jot down thoughts, ideas, or a brief journal entry. This approach eliminates the pressure of producing a substantial piece and establishes a sense of achievement, no matter how modest. Set goals small enough to know you’ll have no issue incorporating them into your daily routine.
Starting small serves two critical purposes. First, it makes the task seem less daunting, increasing the likelihood of adhering to the routine. Second, consistently dedicating a small portion of time to writing ingrains the habit, making it an integral part of one's daily life. Over time, this consistent effort will lead to improved writing skills and a deeper connection to the craft.
Rewards play a pivotal role in habit formation. As high schoolers develop their writing habits, it's essential to celebrate the milestones achieved along the way. These rewards need not be extravagant; a simple treat, a leisure activity, or even extra screen time can be effective motivators. Polygence mentors often play this role for students, congratulating them after milestone accomplishments and encouraging them to continue their developing positive writing habits.
Once the initial steps are taken, the momentum principle comes into play. Like a rolling snowball that gathers size and speed as it moves, consistent writing begins to build momentum. As high schoolers become increasingly engaged in their writing habit, they naturally desire to invest more time and effort into it.
This momentum creates a domino effect that extends beyond writing. The discipline and consistency developed through this practice spill over into other aspects of their lives, enhancing time management skills and fostering a growth mindset. The sense of accomplishment gained from maintaining a consistent writing routine can fuel their confidence to tackle other challenges.
For maximum success, high school students interested in developing a writing habit should tailor these tactics to their unique circumstances:
1. Incorporate writing into routines
Integrate writing into your daily routine. This could mean setting aside time before or after school, during breaks, or even as a calming activity before bedtime.
2. Choose topics of interest
Write about subjects you're passionate about. This makes writing enjoyable, enhances creativity and encourages exploration.
Learn more about Why Passion is Important for Success
3. Seek peer support
Form writing groups or partnerships with classmates. Sharing work with peers and receiving feedback can motivate and help you improve your writing skills. This type of collaborative work environment is part of the Polygence Pods program’s foundation.
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4. Embrace failure as growth
Understand that setbacks are part of the writing journey. In fact, instances of things not going quite as you planned is very prevalent in any learning and experimentation process. As Polygence student Youssef Abdelhalim noted, “Absolutely do not stress too much about failing, because if you're doing something new, chances are you're gonna fail like 1,000 times, and it's very much an iterative process where you need to go back and figure it out all over again. But that's where you learn the most, and it’s how I learned most of my coding skills, like how to debug.”
Chalk up setbacks you encounter in your writing process as learning opportunities. Not everything you write needs to be perfectly structured; the key to developing your writing habit is to keep writing and improving along the way.
5. Prioritize creating an effective system over setting goals
Goal setting can certainly play a role in your writing process, but don’t get too caught up in chasing a specific goal to the point it hinders your ability to develop writing as a consistent habit.
As habit researcher James Clear wrote, “If you’re having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn’t you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don’t want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”
Focus on establishing your writing habit from a routine-forming approach to start; setting specific writing-related goals can come later.
In conclusion, the journey to becoming a proficient writer, researcher, and student begins with forming consistent habits. High school students stand to gain immensely from incorporating writing activities into their daily lives through small, manageable steps. By rewarding yourself for your efforts and building momentum, you’ll cultivate discipline and skills that extend far beyond the realm of writing. As you nurture your writing habits, you equip yourself with a powerful toolkit that will serve you well in academia, personal expression, and future endeavors.
Reach out to Polygence for additional support with developing your writing skills and applying them to your goals. Polygence mentors help students along each step of this journey, helping you learn habit-formation skills that you can apply in other areas of your life – through college and beyond.
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