Discipline,  Time Management

Five Ways A 10-Minute Writing Habit is Atomic

I am a big fan of James Clear’s book Atomic Habits. In fact, I quote it frequently on this blog and in some of the books I write for writers. 

In it, I’m reminded constantly of the beauty of writing in 10-minute increments. Besides being a low, attainable goal that can be accomplished daily, the 10-minute writing session is a great way to establish habits that will benefit any kind of writer in the long run. (And you can join the 10 Minute Novelists writing group here!)

He makes five points on page 236 that I want to unpack and preach to anyone struggling with finding time to write. 

He says, “If you only do the work when it’s convenient or exciting, then you’ll never be consistent enough to achieve remarkable results.” I agree. I think that by writing in small increments any words will do. The more 10-minute increments of writing in a day, a writer may find that the habit becomes a part of who they are. The unreliability of emotions will have no control over the work that needs to be done.

He says, “But stepping up when it’s annoying or painful or draining to do so, that’s what makes the difference between a professional and an amateur. ” I believe that this is true too. The more practice you get by writing in spite of your emotional state, the stronger a writer you will be. (And believe me, I find plenty of things to write about when I am annoyed, pained, or drained.)

“Professionals stick to the schedule, amateurs let life get in the way. Professionals know what is important to them and work toward it with purpose; amateurs get pulled off course by the urgencies of life.” Agreed. Naturally not everyone who reads this blog will be a career novelist, but the ones that are the most successful will be disciplined. Beginning a 10-minute a day habit, no matter what is a great way to get you onto your path of success.

“When a habit is truly important to you, you have to be willing to stick to it in any mood. Professionals take action even when the mood isn’t right. They might not enjoy it, but they fin a way to put the reps in.” I believe that a daily writing habit is like what scales and arpeggios are to a concert pianist, or what laps are to a marathon runner. Successful writers practice often and they don’t stop.

“The only way to become excellent is to be endlessly fascinated by doing the same thing over and over.  You have to fall in love with boredom. ” Sigh. This is true. I get so tired of re-reading my work-in-progress, or reviewing grammar rules, or even thinking, what am I going to write about today. But even when I am bored, I am fascinated by the idea that I could write something amazing. That is if I am committed to my habit of writing daily.

You can find Atomic Habits here. If you’ve read it, tell me what you think in the comments below. 

Katharine Grubb is an author, poet, homeschooling mother, camping enthusiast, bread-baker, and believer in working in small increments of time. She leads 10 Minute Novelists, an international Facebook group of time-crunched writers. She lives with her family in Massachusetts.