Champions don’t do extraordinary things. They do ordinary things, but they do them without thinking, too fast for the orther team to react. They follow the habits they’ve learned.”
– Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit
Building a habit out of a positive activity is a superpower. When you can do something beneficial on a daily basis automatically (aka, a habit), you’ll achieve your goals sooner than you realize.
Listed below are three writing habits of bestselling authors. Try implementing one of them, and see how it impacts your writing. At the end of the post, I’ll share with you what habit I use:
Write 15 Minutes in the Morning
Habit: write fifteen minutes in the morning before anyone else gets up.
When professional blogger Darren Rowse decided to write an ebook, he knew exactly what he wanted to write about. However, he had just one problem: time.
With a wife, kids, work, and newborn on the way, he didn’t have a ton of time – except fifteen minutes in the morning.
Instead of complaining about his lack of time, Darren devoted the first fifteen minutes of his morning to writing his ebook. Within three months, he had written, published, and launched his eBook – a launch that generated over $100,000 in sales.
It all started with his decision to commit to writing fifteen minutes in the morning. Could you do fifteen minutes every morning before going to work?
Choose one small thing that will take you closer to your dreams, and do it to the best of your ability.” – Darren Rowse
You can hear Darren’s full story in this video (it’s a great video – one of my favorites):
One Page A Day, Every day
Habit: write one page everyday, no matter what (even if you don’t publish it).
James Altucher shares the story of prolific writer Gene Wolfe (one of the inventors of Pringles). Gene writes one page every day, and because of this, he’s been able to publish 50 novels – many of which are bestsellers and award-winners.
The secret: One page a day. Gene has been an adult for almost 25,000 days. He writes a page a day. A page is about 300 words. A paragraph or two. Can you do that? 25,000 pages. About 80 books worth of pages. Gene ended up writing 50 published novels, including many bestsellers and award-winners.” – James Altucher
The story (and writing habit) are inspiring, and worth reading. You can read more here.
1,000 Words A Day
Habit: write 1,000 words every single day.
Entrepreneur and author Chris Guillebeau’s personal writing metric is to write 1,000 words a day. Based on the several New York Times bestsellers he’s written, the enormous audience he’s built, and the popular unconventional guides he sells, I’d say it’s a writing habit that’s served him (and his audience) well!
That’s the most important tip of all—to be a writer, start writing. You’ll figure out a lot of things along the way.” – Chris Guillebeau
Chris has a list of good writing tips you should check out, too.
As with any habit, the more frequently you do something, the better you will get at it – and the better you get at it, the more you’ll want to do it. Discipline yourself to write every day, and you will form a habit, get better, and enjoy writing more.
In his book The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills, New York Times bestselling author Daniel Coyle says this about building habits:
With deep practice, small daily practice ‘snacks’ are more effective than once-a-week binges. The reason has to do with the way our brains grow — incrementally, a little each day, even as we sleep. Daily practice, even for five minutes, nourishes this process, while more occasional practice forces your brain to play catch-up.
Give it time. According to research, establishing a new habit takes about thirty days.”
For me, I aim to write 15 minutes in the morning every day before my wife gets up. I set a timer, open up my computer, and start writing. The timer helps me stay focused, since I know I have a ‘limited time’ to write. On weekends and evenings, I sometimes will write 1,000 words or one page as well. But my daily goal is fifteen minutes every morning.
What writing habit do you practice? Let us know in the comments below!