Some writers can hit thousands of words a day, every day, while others (like myself) struggle with the consistency of writing every day. The biggest problem I have is anxiety. It is the reason I can only read 20 max books a year. My mind always confronts my fun hobbies with the line ‘you’re getting in the way of the real productive things like uni assignments and work.’ If I start to write or read, hours can go by without me realizing, and that scares the bejeezus out of me because I’ve convinced myself I haven’t got the time. Procrastination anxiety, I call it. Or ‘writing guilt’. You pick. Either way, it’s problem.
Recently I stumbled upon Monica Leonelle’s The 8-Minute Writing Habit: Create a Consistent Writing Habit That Works With Your Busy Lifestyle and it has been the spark of inspiration and motivation I needed desperately.
Leonelle begins explaining how her previous book Write Better, Faster had received feedback that concerned her. Among the great praise and excellent comments, there were some writers who found it difficult to write every day for various reasons – lack of time, distractions, drained creativity, etc.
‘I assumed that most people who wanted to write were looking for how to get it done faster. When in fact, in looking at the feedback, it became clear that many people were struggling to write at all or consistently.’
This new understanding led her to write about the blocks that writers face and introduce strategies to help integrate writing into their everyday lives. One being the 8-minute habit, where the writer sits down for just 8 minutes a day and writes. Simple and effective.
It seemed perfect for me as I could set the timer and let myself drift off into my fictional creation with a safety beep beep beep to bring me back to reality.
Testing the habit
I picked a piece I had already been working on, with 19,131 written before this experiment, and wrote for 8 minutes every day over seven days.
Total words: 1967
End word count: 21,098
Average words per day: 281
With the average of 281 words per day, I would roughly hit 102,565 words a year – a novel! A whole novel completed with just 8 minutes writing every day. I am actually blown away by that because I’ve spent the last three years pulling teeth, sometimes I would write 1/2k a day and others times I could go a week or so without writing a single word.
I certainly need to get into the habit of writing every day without the guilt of wasting time and I think I’ve found my holy grail method. Thanks Leonelle!
The 8-Minute Writing Habit (2015)
Goodreads (I bought this book on Kindle)