zen habits : breathe

Daily Writing Habit Overview & Plan

By Leo Babauta

Once you have the intention to write every day (read this post for why you should), it’s not always as easy as just saying, “I’m going to do it.”

It doesn’t have to be hard, but there are a few obstacles that stand in the way:

With those obstacles, it seems a miracle anyone ever writes at all. And yet, just look at the Internet, with its crazy amount of blog posts and articles. People are writing, overcoming these obstacles.

However, taken individually, each obstacle is solvable. Let’s look at each one, and find a simple solution:

Each of those solutions is fairly simple: set aside an unmissable 10-minute appointment first thing in the morning, focus on starting, be accountable to others, close your browser & other programs, think about your writing the night before. You can do each of these.

And those elements will be the main components of our plan!

The Daily Writing Habit Plan

Now that we know what we’re up against, and we have solutions, let’s put them together into the plan for the Daily Writing Habit module:

  1. Commit to writing every day this month. Make a public commitment, to your accountability team on the forum, and/or everyone you know on your favorite social network (Facebook, Twitter, your blog, email, etc.). You don’t need to publish your writing each day (though you can), but just write at least 5 minutes a day. It can be in a journal, just in a text document, on a blog, on your favorite social network, etc. It doesn’t have to be good, so let go of your desire for perfection.
  2. Set aside 5-10 minutes each morning. You can find another time if you like, such as your lunch break or right when you get to work, or evening. Find what works for you. I find morning works for many people because at this point, you haven’t gotten busy yet. Treat this appointment as an unmissable meeting with yourself. Make it more important than any other meeting.
  3. Have a trigger & reminders. When will you do your writing appointment? It can be at a certain time, but it’s best if you do it right after something else you regularly do each morning: wake up, have coffee, take a shower, brush your teeth, have breakfast, etc. If you check email as soon as you wake up, I suggest you put writing between waking up and email. So waking up would be your trigger. Set reminders, or write reminder notes for yourself, that will be seen when your trigger happens.
  4. Think about your writing the day before. Think about what you want to write about during a workout, on a walk, in the shower, while you eat, on your commute, in a boring meeting. But definitely think about it before you go to sleep.
  5. Just focus on starting each day. Close your browser & all other programs, turn off notifications. In fact, it’s best to do those the night before, so you aren’t distracted when you first open your computer. You can write with pen & paper if you find that better. Now just start. Just write a few words — that’s all you have to do to be successful today. You don’t have to write for a full 5-10 minutes. Just start. Once you get started, you’ll probably want to do more, but that’s not a requirement.
  6. Report on your success! Actually, report to your accountability group every single day, whether you were successful or not. There may be some days when you’re not successful, and in that case definitely report to your group, but make a stronger commitment to get back on track the next day. I like to commit to giving myself penalties if I don’t do it, just for fun, and it motivates me to get back on track. Try to string together a string of unbroken days of writing each day, and see how long you can get that streak!

That’s the plan. It’s fairly simple, with six easy steps. None of them are that hard. You got this! Make a commitment today.

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