How do you find time to write your novel when there isn’t time to write? When your life feels like a treadmill to nowhere? When it seems like you’re in exactly the same place you were a year ago?
I hear from writers all the time asking how to manage their time so they can write the novel of their dreams.
The Most Powerful Force in the Universe
There’s a secret to doing this. I’m going to let you in on that secret right now.
If you want to write a novel…
You need to make it a habit to write every day of the week. (Or every weekday. Or every weekday plus every Saturday. Or whatever schedule fits your life.)
The most powerful force in the universe is force of habit.
Why You Need a Writing Habit
Writing a novel is a major project. You can’t slam it out in one sitting, and you can’t slam it out in a week of all-nighters.
Writing the first draft of a novel is going to take you at least a hundred hours, maybe two hundred. Maybe even a bit more. That’s a boatload of work.
You have to tackle it one chunk at a time.
You do that by creating a habit of writing every day.
It sounds like I just made things twice as hard.
It sounds like now you’ve got two major projects on your plate:
- Writing your novel.
- Building a habit to write every day.
But that’s the wrong way to think about it. In fact, I just made things a whole lot easier. You don’t have two major projects on your plate. Now you have only one:
- Building a habit to write every day.
Once you’ve built that habit, getting your novel written will be automatic. It’ll get done purely by force of habit.
Four Steps to Building Your Writing Habit
Now how do you build a habit to write every day? Here are the four steps, and you can start the ball rolling right now:
- Decide how long you’ll write every day. Make this ridiculously easy, like 5 minutes per day.
- Decide what time you’ll write every day. It’s best to make it the same time every day.
- Set an alarm on your phone to go off every day at the time you’re supposed to write.
- When your alarm goes off, set the timer on your phone for your set period of time. And then write for exactly that long, and no more.
“Ridiculously Easy” is the Key
You may be thinking that 5 minutes per day is too little to get anything done. Don’t you have hundreds of hours of work ahead of you? How are you going to get anywhere on only 5 minutes per day?
The answer is that the 5 minutes per day is just a gateway to bigger things. You’re building a habit right now, which is already a hard task. Building a habit normally takes about three weeks of doing the same thing every day.
During that first three weeks, you want the habit itself to be ridiculously easy. So easy you can’t fail. So easy, you’ll be jumping at the chance to do it. So easy that you do it EVERY SINGLE DAY.
After three weeks, that habit will be firmly in place.
That’s the hard job.
Now all you have to do is maintain that habit, every day, every day, every day.
Ramping Up Your Habit
And by the way, now you can start boosting the amount of time you’re writing. If 5 minutes feels just too short, now you can ramp it up to 6. Or 7. Or even 8.
Don’t go hog-wild and boost it immediately to 15 minutes per day. You’ll get to 15 minutes soon enough, but keep the amount of time ridiculously easy.
You always want your writing time to feel ridiculously easy. That’s the key to doing it every day.
Every week, add a bit more time to your daily quota.
In a few weeks, you’ll be logging 10 minutes every day, or maybe 15 or 20, and now your habit is much more firmly wired into your brain.
After two months, you’ll look back and see that you worked on your novel EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR TWO WHOLE FREAKING MONTHs.
Which is pretty cool. That puts you way ahead of the hundreds of thousands of wannabes out there.
In three months, maybe you’ll be up to 30 minutes every day. Every single day. And that’s probably all you need to write your novel in a year. You can build a writing career on 30 minutes per day. Or if you want to go really crazy, an hour a day.
Just keep it to a ridiculously easy level. A level you know for sure you can hit every day.
You’re allowed to run overtime now, whenever you feel like it, but make sure you always know that you don’t have to. You’ll run overtime only when you want to.
In a year, you’ll very likely have the first draft of your novel written, and you’ll look back and say it was ridiculously easy.
Force of habit. The secret Jedi mind trick that will make you amazing.