Goal Setting. Plan To Write A Book?

How to Get Anything Done By Tony Bedford

About 18 months ago I did an interesting course on career change consulting. The most interesting aspect of the course was dealing with trial clients. A typical conversation went something like this.

“So what do you really want to do?”

“Write novels.”

“Oh great. What have you written so far?”

“Nothing.”

“A chapter?”

“No.”

“A scene?”

“No.”

“A page?”

“No.”

But I understand the problem. As I mentioned in my article Playing the Long Game, it can be hard to start a project that might take years, which might never make any money, and which you might find just plain hard.

As humans we don’t like hard. We tend to avoid it wherever possible, and when you start a long old project, like writing a book for example, there’s a voice inside you that calls out “too hard, pain, avoid”, and so the project never gets started.

This “voice” goes by many names. Steven Pressfield called it The Resistance, which is as good as name as any in my opinion, so I’ll go with that.

Anyway, here’s how to beat the resistance, and get started on that project you’ve always wanted to do.

Figure out how much time a day you can devote to the project, and that you feel comfortable about. Let’s say you come up with something like “well I could get up a bit earlier and write for an hour in the morning and then go to bed a bit latter and write for an hour in the evening.”

Or you might come up with something like “well I could write instead of watching Eastenders, Coronation Street, and Hollyoaks – that way I could get in two hours writing”.

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Sounds good?

Nope. Not gonna happen.

First of all take your guestimate, two hours in this case, and half it. Now half it again. So we are at thirty minutes. Are you 100% sure you could write for 30 minutes every day? No? How about 15 minutes? How about 10 minutes?

The trick here is to pick a period of time that you absolutely, cannot (in your wildest dreams) fail to do. Even if that turns out to be 5 minutes a day, I say go with that. But you must do it every day.

Whatever time period you decide to allocate to that project do it everyday for a month. If you find yourself failing to do the work you said you’d do every day then reduce the time period until you can do it every day. No skipping days!

Then, at the end of the month have a good long look at what you’ve achieved. If you wrote for just 10 minutes a day, every day, by the end of the month you would have clocked up nearly five hours of writing. That might easily equate to a draft chapter – or a complete shortish e-book.

The other thing you might find is that once you start writing you can’t stop, you go way past your 10 minutes. That’s OK, go with it. But you must not be tempted to say OK I did 30 minutes so I can have a few dyas off. No, you must still do at least 10 minutes (or whatever you said you’d do) the next day as well. It’s important not to skip days.

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Now, with 28 days of success under your belt, either carry on the same programme the next month, or if you are feeling really gutsy, increase the time period. Say from 10 to 15 minutes per day. Or perhaps 20 minutes a day if you feel OK with that.

Work on that task every day for the next month for at least the amount of time you have committed to. If you manage 20 minutes a day for one month you’d have nearly ten hours of work done on the book. If you kept that up for a year you’d have 120 hours of writing under your belt.

As you get good at allocating time, and getting the work done, you might then find yourself wanting to free up more time to devote to the project.

By all means ditch the TV, or do whatever else you need to do to free up more time. But don’t forget – at least the time you committed to, every day.

That’s how books get written.

But you don’t need to take my word for it.

Before he became a full-time novelist Barry Eisler spent nearly 8 years working on his first novel, getting it ready for publishing, while holding down a full-time job and raising a young family. Here’s what Barry said about it (apologies I’m quoting from memory here):

“People believe most novels are written by the writer going off to a cabin on a mountain top and writing for a year. They aren’t. Not usually. They are written in the time after the kids go to bed, on long flights, during coffee breaks, early in the morning.”

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That’s the reality. That’s how things get done, a little bit at a time, day by day.

Tony records his personal journey to freedom at http://www.regardsfromthebalcony.com

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