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:
- You get busy and push the writing back in the day, and often it gets left off.
- You’re intimidated by writing and so you move to things you find easier or more comfortable (checking email, social media, etc.).
- You’re not that motivated to write so you put it off.
- Too many distractions.
- Nothing to write about — staring at a blank page with no idea of what to write can be scary.
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:
- You’re busy: set aside just 10-15 minutes to write, first thing in the morning (before your day gets busy). Even 5-10 minutes in the beginning. Later, as you get better at the habit, you can increase this block of time. Make this an unmissable appointment, more important than any doctor’s appointment.
- You’re intimidated: If you focus on just writing for a few minutes, it’s not that intimidating. Even if you set aside 15 minutes, you don’t need to write for the entire time. Focus on starting. Starting is not hard … it’s just writing a few words.
- You’re not motivated. Commit to writing to an accountability group — on the forum, or with friends/family. Share your writing with them if you like — it’s motivating. Either way, report to them whether you wrote or not.
- Too many distractions. Close your browser when you write. Close all other programs but a simple writing program. The writing program you choose doesn’t matter at all — even the text editor that comes with your computer (Notepad or TextEdit) will work great.
- Nothing to write about. Spend a little time during the day thinking about what you’ll write the next day — exercise, the shower, a daily walk, and your commute are good times to do this thinking. Each night when you go to bed, think about what you’re going to write the next day, so that when you wake up, you’re prepared to write.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.