11 Minutes To A Rock-Solid Writing Habit

11 Minutes To A Rock-Solid Writing Habit

If you know that you procrastinate, so that your writing doesn’t get done, here’s how to develop a writing habit. It works to build any habit, and all you need is 11 minutes — daily.

You know you should be writing, but…

You’re watching a DVD, or Netflix, or you’ve just spent an hour on Facebook when you should be writing. You tell yourself that you’re tired, and you’ll write tomorrow.

Except you don’t, sadly. Procrastination has you in its deadly grip.

It’s time to free yourself.

If you can spare 11 minutes a day, you can do it.

Commit to 11 minutes, and magic happens

Years ago I read somewhere that it takes 11 minutes to change a mind-state. That stuck with me. One day, before heading out for my walk, I focused on my mental chatter: I hate exercise, I have so much I should be doing, I don’t have time… kvetch, kevetch… OK: mind-state — resistant and resentful.

I looked at my watch.

11 minutes? Let’s see. Would my mind-state change?

I kept walking, and took my emotional temperature every few minutes.

At 11 minutes precisely, I started to enjoy the walk. It was fun.

Coincidence, I decided. So I kept watching for ways I could test the “11 minutes” theory again. I tried it on a writing project I’d been avoiding. On household chores. On calling people I didn’t want to call.

It worked. Each and every time, I knew that I only had to survive 11 minutes, and if I could do that, my mind-state would change. It would become a healthy, positive, and often creative, mind-state. That was well worth 11 minutes.

Why the 11 minute trick works to build a writing habit

When my writing students procrastinate, and can’t get motivated, I suggest the 11 minute trick to them. If they can open a computer file, and stick with their writing for 11 minutes, their mind-state will change.

Why does this simple trick work to build a writing habit?

Once you’ve seen the trick in action, you realize that your emotions change: they change constantly. Emotional resistance to writing no longer bluffs you. You may not be “in the mood” to write when you start writing, but you know that you will be — in 11 minutes.

Try the trick

Not in the mood to write? Look at your watch.

Start writing.

Your emotions will change. You’ll become intrigued by, and engrossed in your writing… in 11 minutes.

Write and Sell Commercial Fiction FAST: Bestselling Kindle Genre Fiction Cheat Sheets

Write and Sell Commercial Fiction FAST: Bestselling Kindle Genre Fiction Cheat Sheets
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, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

How to profit from your writing: online store.

Writing Journal 61: Sell Your Ideas

Writing Journal 61: Sell Your Ideas

My writing journal for Sunday, October 12, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

Happy Sunday — another short writing day. I manage to write another 2,300 words of the mystery novel. It’s still zooming along. No idea why… Every project hits a wall sooner or later, but this is going so well, I don’t trust it.

To stop me getting over-confident, the two nonfiction books — I’m writing them in tandem — bogged down. I managed just 350 words, and they were a struggle. I’ll need to do some brainstorming on a whiteboard. Maybe writing them together wasn’t the best idea I’ve ever had.

Breakfast for Honey, and for me, then email. I’ve still got a backlog, so luckily email was light this morning.

Last night’s coaching calls went well. I love doing them; they’re fun. I write up a call summary, and create a plan for each client. Julia will send them the material with their MP3s.

It’s time to leave for my Sunday commitments.

Sell your ideas

As you may know, I’m a writing coach. I love it, because I love writing, and enjoy helping people to overcome their challenges, whether those challenges are huge, or minor.

Although it’s easier than it’s ever been to sell your creativity, in any form— whether your creativity expresses itself in paintings, cute crafts, books, short stories, or teaching materials — it’s hard for creatives to pull the trigger, and SHIP.  As Seth Godin said:

“The only purpose of starting is to finish, and while the projects we do are never really finished, they must ship.”

I have challenges with shipping, too. I used to be the queen of procrastination. While I’m better at recognizing my own BS than I used to be, I still make excuses for not shipping. I’ve a suspicion that that’s why I like ghostwriting. I like being accountable to someone else. It means that like it or not, I need to ship.

8-Hour Wins: Create and Sell Products in Just 8 HoursTo help you to SHIP, I’ve formalized a training that I give students. It’s basically a checklist that I use for myself. I’ve tested it on students who have 1,001 perfectly reasonable (and totally BS) reasons they can’t complete projects and ship.

Here it is: 8-Hour Wins: Create and Sell Products in Just 8 Hours.

Back again: time for Sunday content and blog management

Sunday’s always my big blog management and content creation day. I review all my blogs, and clients’ blogs, and brainstorm content. I aim to have at least ten to 20 draft posts in most blogs at any one time. Although some of the drafts will be deleted, most will be written, edited, and published.

It’s October, and we’re heading into the hottest period of the year for B2C companies. They’re rolling out their pre-holiday sales. It involves dusting off their customer lists, and creating promotions for the period right through into 2015. For some the after-Christmas sales are barely over, when it’s time for the hearts and flowers of Valentine’s Day.

Keeping track of lots of blogs isn’t a picnic, especially at this time of the year. I like to get content plans for 2015 organized before November, because you can’t plan in the middle of the chaos, which defines late November to January.

So, in addition to planning content for this week and the next few weeks, I schedule in some idea-creation for clients’ 2015 content. A lot depends on how much a client is budgeting for content marketing. That means: research, reports and scopes. And proposals. I schedule those in for the next few weeks.

By the time all that’s out of the way, the day is done. Time for my daily and weekly review. Tonight, I’ll catch up on planning my new blog, and drafting some content.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Writing Journal 56: Writers’ Procrastination

Writing Journal 56: Writers’ Procrastination

My writing journal for Tuesday, October 7, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

Business as usual this morning. I started writing the mystery novel. I’m still not happy about the sleuth. However, I’ve come to a realization: I’m procrastinating yet again. Procrastination has many faces. It masks itself slyly.

Is there an all-in-one, one-size-fits-all solution to procrastination? No. Not that I’ve found. Our excuses always seem so reasonable. I’m writing a mystery for a client. He wants to do a series, so the sleuth I choose will affect other writers. Of course I want to do my best for them — leave them lots of opportunities for characters’ conflict — just as I want to do my best for my client.

It’s all so reasonable, and it’s all total BS. :-) More on procrastination and its evil ways later.

I managed 1,200 words. Everything takes longer at the beginning. I plotted out the crime, and created a timeline for it too. Timelines are essential in mysteries, otherwise you get totally confused.

Next, back to writing the two business books, one ebook, and the print book. I manage 2,100 words, which is great.

Honey’s sulking this morning; it’s raining. She hates the wet. I dish up her breakfast, which she ignores. She believes that I control the weather… I always get annoyed looks from her when it’s raining. :-)

Next, my own breakfast while dealing with a mile of email. I won’t be walking this morning, because of the rain, so I get stuck into dealing with it.

Phone calls, and a chat with the client who’s rebranding, and his new blog. I make some notes which Julia can send to him later.

Lunchtime, at the computer, while reading social media.

Coping with writers’ procrastination

Why do we procrastinate? The psychology of procrastination isn’t well understood. If you read towards the end of the linked article, it says:

“Recently the behavioral research into procrastination has ventured beyond cognition, emotion, and personality, into the realm of neuropsychology. The frontal systems of the brain are known to be involved in a number of processes that overlap with self-regulation. These behaviors — problem-solving, planning, self-control, and the like — fall under the domain of executive functioning.”

“Executive functioning” sounds interesting. Basically, it boils down to this. When we procrastinate, we believe our own BS, and don’t call ourselves to account on our own excuses — we don’t manage ourselves.

Coping with writers’ procrastination starts with looking for ways in which you’re procrastinating. I’ve found my journals immensely helpful with this, especially my bullet journal. If I see myself migrating tasks over and over, I know I’m procrastinating.

Then the question becomes: why? It’s important to write down both the question, and the answers you come up with. Your solution will take care of itself, as long as you document the “case”.

For example, I need to set up a new website; one of my own, rather than a client’s site. I’ve been migrating this task for over a week now in my bullet journal. So, I asked myself why I’m procrastinating on this. I came up with these reasons:

  • Too busy;
  • Too tired, after I complete clients’ projects and everything else;
  • I haven’t decided on my primary targeting for the site. I need to think about that;
  • I don’t know what I want on the home page;
  • Will I create a blog on the site? I don’t know. I need to decide, yes or no. (YET ANOTHER blog… Give me strength, please God…);
  • I need to decide on a theme…

Just by looking at the list, I can see procrastination in all its glory. I’m taking on yet another website of my own, and I’m avoiding that — I don’t want more work; I dread it. And yet, I’ve decided to do it, so procrastination achieves nothing. I need to clear time, and schedule it, and then do the work.

When you write down your reasons for procrastinating, they always look flimsy, so write them down. You’ll soon see a solution.

Onward, with more blogging

A client called yesterday. He wants a quote on three months’ worth of blogging. I need to do a scope of the work, and see where I can fit it in. I want to do it, on the other hand, I’m really booked solid. I decide to create the scope of work anyway. He might be OK with just a couple of posts to start, and then a fuller program in a few weeks.

After that, I get on with more clients’ blogging, drafting several posts, and requesting more images from the clients.

Christmas is coming

I meant to have my Kindle ebook of Christmas short stories well under way by now, but I’ve done no work on them for a few days. I spend a couple of timer sessions just writing — I’m well ahead on my outlines, so the writing is easy.

I love writing fiction; compared to other writing, it’s much less stressful.

After I return some calls to catch people before the close of business, I do my daily review. I need to get to work on my new website later on this evening. No more procrastinating.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

4 Ways to Finish Writing a Book, Even If You’ve Been Procrastinating for Years

Write a book

Do you have a partially-completed novel or nonfiction book cluttering up your hard drive? When I’m coaching writers, they’ve usually got a book or two that they’ll finish “one day.”

Don’t feel bad, it’s common. With 280,000 novelists signed up for NaNoWriMo this month (good for you, if you’re one of them), thousands of uncompleted novels will never see the light of day.

I’m guilty of starting more books than I finish too. I tend to start a new book whenever I get an idea. Then a client needs help, or something else happens, and I don’t get back to writing that book. Procrastination wins again.

Over the years, I’ve learned some fast and dirty ways deal with this habit. Here they are.

1. Carve out what works, and then publish

This is as fast and dirty as it gets. It works a treat on both nonfiction, and fiction. If you’re writing a novel, your book becomes the first in a series. (Be sure to warn readers that they’re buying a serial, or part-work, otherwise you’ll get lots of nastiness in the reviews, and rightly so.)

Let’s say you’ve completed 40 to 70 per cent of your book. You lost inspiration. You’re sick of the sight of it. You hide it in an Archive folder, and shudder whenever you think about it.

Stop shuddering. It’s time to rescue the beast. All you have to do is find a section of material which is publishable as-is. Ebooks can short, so if you have 150 pages, you should be able to publish at least 120 pages as a single ebook, or a couple of ebooks.

Big tip: DO NOT READ the entire document. It’s fatal. You’ll end up procrastinating again.

Read the headings.

For nonfiction, just carve out the section which is publishable, write a short intro and conclusion, and publish. All done.

Fiction tends to be more work, because you’re rejiggering the novel, the character and plot arcs will need work – you’ll need to write new scenes, OR remove a subplot, OR (my favorite) remove a character.

2. Finish it: make it shorter than you planned

With this method, you look at what you have, and work out how you can finish it quickly.

You’re not carving much away. With nonfiction, publish what you have. You may be surprised that when you look at the material with a “finish it, no matter what” mindset, the material works as-is. Remove any chapters you haven’t completed. You may need to add a few paragraphs to the introduction and write a short concluding chapter.

With fiction, the easiest option is turn the book into a novella, or a couple of short stories. Alternatively, write the rest of the material as quickly as you can, and publish.

3. Blog it: use the material to sell something else

Sometimes, neither #1 nor #2 will work. Or maybe they would work, but you don’t want to spend any time on the material. That’s OK. You can use the material to sell something else.

Create a blog for the material, or offer it as a free download to promote your business, or other books.

4. Major surgery: outline, rewrite and complete

If it’s been a year or two, you may find that when you read the material again, you know exactly how to fix it. Or, you feel that this project is worthwhile – the book deserves to be published, no matter what it takes. This is wonderful, because you’ve regained your inspiration.

Start by outlining what you have. Then rewrite, and write fresh material.

Tip: ONE revision only, otherwise you’ll procrastinate again. Do the revision, get a beta reader to read it, and publish it as an ebook.

See how it goes. The book may surprise you.

Try these four methods of finishing a book. They’re easy (well, except for #4,) and they work.

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, and on Twitter: @angee