“First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice.”
“Forget talent. If you have it, fine. Use it. If you don’t have it, it doesn’t matter. As habit is more dependable than inspiration, continued learning is more dependable than talent.”
— Octavia Butler, “Bloodchild: And Other Stories” 1995 (via Quote Investigator)
The word “habit” tends to have negative connotations, as in “bad habits” rather than “good habits”. Call it routine or ritual if you prefer.
Brushing your hair is a habit, though we don’t tend to call it that or think of it as such. It’s simply part of the routine of daily life, things done without question as part of getting ready for something else. Some days I do a better job of it than others (though living in a windy climate it can be hard to tell).
Same with painting, all the unseen, uncounted brushmarks that go into making the ones you finally see. Some days I do a better job of it than others (though by the time I declare a painting finished I’d like to believe others couldn’t tell).