There are a lot of sayings around planning. And you hear a lot of them this time of year.
- If you fail to plan, you plan to fail
- If you aim at nothing, you hit it every time.
There’s definitely some truth to that. But most of us don’t have lives that will stand up to a rigid schedule. And forcing ourselves to spend two hours at the keyboard each day will likely cause some internal rebellion if you haven’t already worked hard to establish that as a habit.
Keys to establishing a writing habit
So what are the keys to establishing a writing habit that you can stick to that will move you forward on your writing journey?
First, give yourself grace. Life happens, and being flexible will make life easier. Just don’t use it as an excuse to give up. Get back up on that writing horse, so to speak, as soon as possible.
Second, try to keep some sort of writing habit. I tell my coaching clients to set a super easy goal. One paragraph. If you can write one paragraph, even if it’s just free writing. Keep the bar low so your brain doesn’t rebel at the idea of One. More. Thing.
I talk about how to discover the best time of day for you to write here.
It’s important just to keep the habit and not worry about the results. Becca Syme, a Gallup Strengths Finder coach and founder of the Better Faster Academy recommends just opening the document with your writing in it every day. I love that. It reminds your brain that you have a project you’re working on. And you might even get sucked into it. But even if you don’t, you’ve looked at it and brought it to the forefront of your mind and engrained that habit just a bit deeper.
Third, don’t give up. Giving up on your writing completely means you lose the progress you’ve made, and it’s much harder to get back in the habit. So keep those small habits going!
Block time off
Once you’ve decided what your low-bar goal is for your writing, you need to block the time off on your calendar so it actually happens and other people don’t take over your time. A book is something that takes a long time to write, and when you move into the production and publication and marketing segments, you’ll have to managing a number of moving parts. Those only increase with more books. And most of us have other responsibilities as well. So you need some way to track what needs to be done and when you need to do it.
I know some people aren’t planners and this doesn’t work for them, but if you are a planner, I recorded a video about how I do my planning and block out my calendar so I have time to move toward my goals each day. Annual planning you can do any time: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ryWRYO6MIk4
Track your time
Every quarter, and more in-depth at the end of the year, I review how I’ve spent my time so I can do more of what worked and less of what didn’t. There are a lot of tools out there to help you with this. I like the Toggl.com tracker. It’s on my computer and on my phone (you can actually see it in the above video when I share my screen!), and it’s easy for me to just type in what I’m working on and hit the button. When I want to get a report of my time, I go to the Toggl site and run a report based on project, time frame, etc. I’ve made a number of changes in my activities over the years based on this information. When people ask me how I get so much done, this is a big part of the answer.
Here’s to your writing success in 2023!