The key to developing a lifelong writing habit is to start small – 2 minutes a day.
You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.James Clear
In James Clear’s habits’ super-tome Atomic Habits he introduces the “two minute rule.” In his words: “When you start a new habit, it should take less than two minutes to do.”
Meaning, if you’re trying to lock in a daily writing habit and you don’t currently have one, start small. Establish something you can (and will) do in 2 minutes every day.
This is the exact opposite of diving into the deep end of the swimming pool, biting off more than you can chew… all the adages. As in, you decide you’re going to write a book and set a goal of writing 5,000 words a day – weekdays, weekends, holidays, all the days.
All fired up, you write 7,000 words on Monday (woot!). Tuesday, 5,000 words. Wednesday, another 5,000. Then by Thursday you collapse face first into your Cheerios and your creative brain screams for mercy. By Friday you’re beating yourself up about your “failed goal.” By Saturday you decide that writing a book was not meant to be, it’s not the “right time” (my personal favorite since it never is), or you must not have what it takes. You give up.
Please don’t do this – to yourself or to your book.
It’s simply not conducive to building a lifelong writing habit.
Start small. What can you do in 2 minutes every day? How much can you write? Or research? Or edit?
Or sit staring out a window emotionally connecting with your book?
What small daily writing habit can you program into the neural circuits of your brain every day?
I’m talking about something you can and will do (be realistic about your life) until that habit becomes SO automatic in your muscle memory that you couldn’t stop if you tried.
Then, once your 2 minute habit is working, see where you want it to go from there. Once something is on autopilot, it’s remarkable to watch 2 minutes become 20 minutes, or 2 hours. But the amount of time or number of words are not important. Your priority is training your brain to work on your book every day.
This is also what I tell my book writing coaching clients on day one of their program, usually interrupting their barrage of other worries – every last detail of their book plan, something they’re trying to work out about chapter 20, their marketing plan, their future launch plan… everything except the most important thing (at that point).
“Where is writing a book located on your schedule?”
A moment of silence.
Then we establish their daily writing habit.
Start with habit. That’s the thing that gets books written.
Need help? You know where to find me.
Demystifying Book Writing Obstacles