Wouldn’t it be great if you could program your brain to go into writing mode on command?
You can, actually, If you’re willing to spend five minutes a day for the next three months doing a simple exercise.
You’ve probably heard other writers talk about the importance of a writing habit.
You’ve might have also heard that many successful writers have a writing ritual that helps them maintain their habit.
But if you don’t already have one, you might feel overwhelmed at the idea of starting one.
Write every day?
What if I don’t feel inspired?
What if I’m having an awful day?
What if I don’t have time to write every day?
Won’t staring at a blank page (or screen) every day just train me to have more writer’s block?
I understand why you’d be worried. I used to be afraid of the same things.
Here’s how I got past those fears and developed a writing habit that feels so good, I don’t want to skip a day unless I absolutely have to.
I started with a very simple pre-writing ritual: Take a few deep breaths, then say out loud, I am writing.
Then, I would set a timer for five minutes and do one of two things:
1. Type a scene from a book by an author I admired.
This caused me to associate my ritual with the act of typing fiction.
It had a secondary benefit of allowing me to look at the author’s work with fresh eyes as I typed.
I started to understand why the author made the storytelling choices they did.
I started to get a better grasp of how the techniques I was studying could actually be applied to my own stories.
2. Write about something that had happened to me recently, without trying to make it entertaining.
This caused me to associate my ritual with the act of telling stories without the pressure to “get it right.”
I wouldn’t try to embellish what happened or explain anything. I’d just try to put down every detail about the mundane encounter that I could remember.
It had a secondary benefit of making me much more aware of things like body language, the way people really talk, the subtle conflicts that shape a conversation, and all the things that I normally ignored as I went through my day on autopilot.
In other words, it helped me to be more observant and to focus on those telling details that ground a story in reality.
After years of thinking that I…
- didn’t have time to establish a writing habit
- wouldn’t be inspired enough to write every day
- would find the structure of a writing ritual too constrictive
…I discovered that I could train myself to write on command with this simple, 5-minute daily exercise.
My monthly word count tripled. But that wasn’t the best part.
The best part that as writing became a habit for me, I no longer had to talk myself into getting started.
And I suddenly had a ton of mental energy free for actually writing.
What untold stories would you finally write if you gave yourself the gift of a writing habit?