Do you ever have rough days where everything that could go wrong…does? Days when it feels like the whole world is pushing back?
These days are inevitable and frustrating because often we don’t write!
Recently, I read The 8-Minute Writing Habit by Monica Leonelle. I highly recommend this book because it’s like an injection of motivation. You’ll find tips you can implement right away.
Check out three excellent takeaways…
1. Write in 8-minute chunks.
No surprise here. The title gives it away:-) Like me, you’re probably thinking, “Eight minutes isn’t long enough to write! Don’t be silly .”
Hear me out…
I was surprised how much I wrote when I experimented with 8-minute writing sprints.
Writing a novel is an epic undertaking. Whether it’s a short story or a 150K word tome, getting started is daunting.
That’s why Leonelle argues that eight minutes is the perfect chunk of time. Why? Anyone can sit down for eight minutes and write about 250 words.
Eight minutes is short enough that the writing feels pretty painless. And it’s long enough that you get words on paper.
Watch out…you may keep going. What’s that I’m sensing…momentum?
But this approach may not work for everyone. A timer going off can distract you just when you’re getting into a flow state. Don’t despair, just reset and start another sprint.
What if you dictate? Eight minutes is perfect. Purchase a quality microphone (I use this brand and dictate into Scrivener or Google docs). Let your thoughts flow freely. Easy when it’s only eight minutes, right?
You can also dictate on your phone, and Leonelle advocates using text swiping functionality to quickly write on your mobile device. A practical idea if you’re stuck somewhere you can’t dictate (and you don’t want awkward stares. Guy dictating in the elevator, I’m talking to you).
2. Bad day? Resort to Plan C
We all have bad days, including days where we’re blocked and just can’t get words on paper.
Leonelle describes her clever solution. Plan A is that elusive, perfect day. You know the kind where you meet your target word count, your writing flows magically from your brain to the page, and by 5 pm, you kick back with a well-deserved New Zealand sauv blanc?
Well, that’s my perfect day anyway…
But then you have days where the universe seems to be plotting against you. Your alarm clock fails, then you have a lousy day at work, and afterward, you’re too tired to do anything besides watch Jessica Jones on Netflix.
Even on a good day, when you’re in the saggy middle of your WIP, it’s sheer torture to pull something, anything out of your brain.
Leonelle says come up with a Plan C…
What is the bare minimum that you could do on a bad day to feel okay?
To feel like you’re making some progress?
I love this idea so much, I have a list on my wall describing my Plan A, B, C scenarios. And hey, I get to decide what day I have!
Plan A is my ideal day:
4 hours of deep creative work
1-2 hours of marketing
Wine & Jessica Jones
Since many days don’t turn out this well, I have a Plan B:
2 hours of deep work
A workout or walk
Then on the really bad days, catastrophic days, I resort to plan C:
At least one 8-minute writing session (I’ll often write more than 8 min once I get started).
A short walk
A short blog update or post on Facebook
Even on my worst days, I’ll still have written 250 words. Better than zero.
Am I tricking myself? Yes.
Is that awesome? Yes.
Let’s face it, we often create our own obstacles.
The 8-minute writing habit is another tool in your arsenal to beat procrastination.
Have you heard of Jerry Seinfeld’s approach to writing? He advises comics to write new material every single day.
Never break the chain.
(Oh no, is the Fleetwood Mac song now stuck in your head, too?)
One of my writing goals is to try my hardest to write—something:
Do you write new words every day? If not, the 8-minute mindset can help you.
Anyone can find eight minutes in their day no matter how busy. 250 words a day adds up to 91,250 in a year, enough for a full-length novel or two!
3. Write your novel in stages.
In her book, Leonelle describes her process for going from first draft to published work.
Often when new writers sit down, they expect to write nearly perfect prose.
But you and I know that’s unrealistic. First drafts are messy. Your goal is to write them as fast as possible.
Leonelle’s writing process is like peeling back an onion. First, she writes a high-level outline in longhand, which she converts into Scrivener.
Next, she writes a few paragraphs about what should happen in each scene or chapter. Then comes scene-by-scene beats.
Think of beats as the character’s movements, actions, dialogue, or inner monologue. Once she has this framework, she fleshes out the prose and adds transitions.
This approach reduces the overwhelm of having to write entire chapters from scratch. With this outline, you can easily do 8-minute sprints to fill in details.
And you can write anywhere! Dictate while you walk the dog, write on your phone as you traverse the subway, while you sip your margarita….
The outline method means you never get lost or forget what you should be writing.
I hope you found these tips helpful.
Remember that 8-minute sprints are achievable even on your worst days.
You can use these mind hacks to complete your first draft and get closer to finishing your novel.
What other tools do you use to beat procrastination and write consistently? Post a comment below…
I’m Courtney Kenney, author and book launch consultant. Like you, I’m on the author’s journey. My focus is to improve my craft, learn new marketing techniques, and sell more books as I grow my authorpreneur business. I want to share what I’ve learned to help you become a more productive and prosperous author.
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