One technique for improving your writing is to make sure you write every day. Write something. Anything. Some people say write for at least 90 minutes. Some say more. Some say less. Some say you have to focus on the way you approach your writing as much as you just focus on getting words down.
All good advice.
But I’m going to share a trick that’s been working for me recently. I’m a morning writer. Mostly on the train on my way to the 9-5 grind, but it’s a long train ride, and I frequently get 1000 words down by the time I have to get off the train. Not bad. And it’s certainly helped me move forward on a number of projects. In addition to this, I write for a few hours every weekend. But it isn’t enough. I know it isn’t. I need to be writing more, and putting more time and energy into writing better. And one thing I know will help is writing more at night.
But that’s a real challenge. I’m tired. I had a long day. I need to get other things done. I need to hit the gym or get something to eat. I need to clean my filthy kitchen. There just isn’t time.
HOGWASH. There’s time. I just struggle because the time and energy required for writing can be, at times, daunting. And why bother writing for just a short period of time, getting out a very small number of words?
Small steps lead to grand accomplishments. That should be the number one thing most writers remember. No matter how talented you are, writing is done one word at a time. So I’ve set down a new rule for myself: set a timer for 15 minutes and write. Just 15 minutes. If I want to continue on because I’m on a roll, I can. If I want to stop, I can. I’ll have accomplished some small feat of writing in that time, and that’s what matters. What’s nice is that by setting the timer I give myself an out. Not just an out, but a guilt-free out. I’ve done what I set out to do. That’s real. It matters. It motivates and helps me keep moving forward. And dang it, it feels good!
So 15 minutes a night. That’s the new habit I’m forming, and I think it’s going well. I’ll need to stick with it for a while before it comes naturally, but at some point it will, and I’ll have a whole new opportunity programmed into my brain for when to write. And that is always a good thing.
Yeah, I’m tired. Yes, I had a long day. Dang it, there are always a hundred things that need to get done. But I’m writing. I’m always writing. And that feels very good.