Creating a strong writing habit is a creative art in and of itself! Here’s my trick: When I’m procrastinating on a writing project, I commit to writing for two minutes – and only two minutes – every morning after I brush and floss my teeth.
Huh? Two minutes? And what does brushing my teeth have to do with writing?
There are two parts to this behavioral science:
Part One: Research has shown that the best way to create a new habit is to “chain” it to an existing routine. That way, the brain doesn’t see the new habit as a new activity to keep track of, but as an “add-on” to something already on file.
For example, when you are getting in your car, you probably think about finding your keys, but you probably don’t think about putting your key in the lock, or getting into your car, or putting the key in the ignition, or buckling your seat belt. Your brain doesn’t spend much energy on these individual tasks because it sees them all as one conjoined task.
So, if you want to develop a successful writing habit, “chain” your writing to something you already do routinely. If, for example, you have a cup of coffee every morning, put your notebook or laptop by the coffee pot and sit and write while sipping your joe.
Part Two: I really like the writing by Stephen Guise, author of Mini-Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results. He had trouble getting in shape, so he decided to do one push-up every day. If he got into bed at night without doing his push-up, he got up and did it. It was only one push-up, after all!
Of course, that led to two, then ten, then twenty, and voilà! A new habit was born.
Here’s how I combine those two behavioral tips: One thing I do unfailingly every morning is brush and floss my teeth. When I’m done, I sit and write for only two minutes, then I go about my day. It’s not a lot, but it’s a promise I can keep. No matter how busy I am, I realize the world isn’t going to stop if Kelly Hayes-Raitt is 120 seconds late. After all, no matter how late I might be running, I wouldn’t go out without brushing my teeth!
At the very least, I have 14 minutes of writing at the end of the week I wouldn’t have had. More significantly, I often return after my morning chores and write more. After all, I’ve stimulated my curiosity and created momentum.
Most importantly, my two minutes keep my book on my mind all day long. So I’m “writing” while I’m driving or walking the dog or doing the dishes. No more feeling like a failure because I’m not writing.
This is how I completed How to Become a Housesitter: Insider Tips from the HouseSit Diva.
A final tip: I set up what I will write the night before. When brushing my teeth at night, I jot a note to prompt myself for the next morning’s two minutes. This way, my brain can mull over the new writing while I sleep!
OK, this suggestion to write two minutes/day is crazy, right? What do you think? Comment below.
Kelly Hayes-Raitt admits she sleeps around. Usually with animals.
More on that in a moment…
Her passion is helping writers get their books jumpstarted. Her coaching clients call her “inspiring,” and students in her workshops rave about her unique teaching techniques. Learn more about working one-on-one with Kelly at www.JumpStartMyBook.org.
Or join her in Cape Town, South Africa, February 1 – 10, 2020, for a magical writing retreat to jumpstart your book! www.JumpStartMybook.org/writers-retreat/
OK, the sleeping around thing? She’s a full-time housesitter and has been traveling the world for the past decade. She’s learned a thing or two about housesitting and shares her knowledge and experience in her popular book How to Become a Housesitter: Insider Tips from the HouseSit Diva available in soft cover or Kindle at Amazon or ebook on her web site www.HouseSitDiva.com.
Before nomading, Kelly reported live from Iraq during the early weeks of the U.S.-led invasion. Her journalism has won several literary awards and has been widely published in anthologies. The girl’s got stories.