Habits as raw material

I have another technique I've been working on recently, similar in some ways to using dress rehearsal to overcome the practice/performance gap. Rehearsing works by pre-loading the effort required to do something for real, so that when the time comes the actual effort is very minimal. I think there's some real value in generalising that idea in terms of habits, or more specifically the kind of work you do habitually.

When I started writing every day, it was mostly because I figured it would be easier to stick to a more regular schedule. While that's definitely been true, lately I've noticed another interesting effect: because I'm already committed to writing this amount, it now costs me very little to write about something. Previously if I had an idea for something to write, it would seem like a bit of an ordeal. Now, it's something more akin to relief: "Oh great! That's what I can write about today!". It's like I have an existing stock of writing that I have to use for something.

In that sense, I'm starting to think of habits in general as raw material that you can bring to bear on your work. If you can set yourself up in a situation where you have a lot of raw material, it will be much easier to do the things you want. Not only does the process itself get easier with practice, it requires less initiative than doing something for the first time. Of course it's possible to do things without that raw material, but like any resource-constrained activity it's harder and less likely to work.

In a way, it seems like thinking backwards. Instead of setting an important goal that will require a certain set of skills and activities to achieve, you develop skills and activities as habits, and assume that something important will come along later. But in a more realistic sense it's unlikely that you'll find an important goal without spending a lot of time just doing things, and even if you did, you might not have the ability to make it happen.

But when that important thing comes up, it will probably look a lot like the other normal things you've been doing all along. And at that point all those raw materials will really come in handy.