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10 Simple Habits to Help You to Write Your First Book

10 Simple Habits to Help You to Write Your First Book

Want to write your first book? Over the years, I’ve written hundreds of books, mostly for clients, many for major publishers. Initially, I found writing difficult, avoiding it and wasting time. Eventually, I developed habits which help me to write.

Some of these habits might seem weird at first. Experts suggest that it takes repetition and time to develop a habit. When you repeat an action, sooner or later it will become a part of who you are – you’ll develop the habits which make you a successful author.

Here are ten habits you can develop.

1. Develop the habit of visualizing yourself happily writing your book.

“Visualization” is using your imagination. You’re always using your imagination. However, mostly you’re unaware of it. If you think that writing your book will be “hard”, you’re visualizing sitting at your computer, miserable and gritting your teeth.

Why not visualize yourself tapping the keyboard, and being excited that the words are flowing well? You’ll be thrilled with the results if you use your imagination to help you to write.

Take action by: writing a visualization script.

Write a short visualization script. Think about how it would feel to tap the keyboard, and write easily. Can you see this happening in your imagination? Describe what’s happening in your imagination in a few sentences. Your short script will kickstart your imagination.

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Visualize at least once a day; twice a day if possible.

2. Develop the habit of managing your time.

Any book takes time to write. Think about how you spend your day. If your schedule is packed – you work, you need time to commute, and time to spend with your family – consider how you could fit in writing time.

Take action by: scheduling time to write, every day.

Many writers get up earlier so they have time to write. Perhaps this would work for you. It’s OK if you’re not a “morning person”, and aren’t wide awake. You’ll find that a dreamy half-awake state is perfect for writing – you won’t obsess about the words.

3. Develop a journaling habit: prime the pump.

A writing journal helps you to write. Create a writer’s journal for your book. Your journal contains all your writing notes: ideas, outlines, and insights. It’s impossible to keep your entire book in your head. Don’t try.

You’ll bless your journal if you can’t write for a few days. It will put you in the right frame of mind to write when you read your journal entries.

Take action by: choosing a journal. Paper or digital?

Decide whether you’ll keep your book’s journal on paper, or in digital form. I keep my writing journals in Evernote (it’s free.)

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You may prefer a hardcover notebook, or a looseleaf folder. It’s up to you what you choose. Start your journal today.

4. Develop the habit of acceptance: lower your expectations.

Writing a book is a journey. It’s easy to lose confidence. You’ll avoid stress and writer’s block if you accept each day’s writing as the best you can do, on that particular day.

Just write. If you can talk, you can write. Writing a book is a process. You write the book. Then you review and revise your book. You may go through this process several times. It’s been said that books are rewritten, rather than written.

Accept the process, and be happy with what you write each day.

Take action by: practicing writing without judgment.

Avoid judging your writing. Decide that you’ll develop the habit of acceptance. Today, just accept what you’ve written. You’ve got words on the computer screen, and that’s a huge accomplishment.

5. Develop the habit of eliminating distractions while you’re writing.

Are you easily distracted? When it’s time to write, eliminate as many distractions as you can. Turn off your phone. Close your email, messaging and social media apps.

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Create a distraction-free environment, so you can focus on writing.

Take action by: investigating apps which can help.

Many writers swear by apps which put the focus on writing, and eliminate distractions. I use FocusWriter – it’s free, and multi-platform. Find an app you like, and use it.

6. Make it a habit to daydream, and muse.

“Muse” is both a verb and noun. As a noun, it refers to the Muses, Greek goddesses of inspiration who preside over the arts and sciences. As a verb, when you muse on your book, you wonder about it. Musing is a form of daydreaming: you’ll often get ideas and inspiration from a few minutes of musing about your book.

Take action by: daydreaming about your book for a few minutes each day.

You can’t grab inspiration by the neck and force it. You can however sit quietly, daydreaming about your book, and hope that inspiration will happen.

7. Get the idea-capturing habit.

Inspiration happens anywhere and everywhere. It can happen when you muse. It can happen in the shower, when you’re driving, or when you’re playing with your children. It’s elusive. If you don’t capture your ideas as they happen, they’ll vanish like dreams.

Take action by: carrying a notebook, or installing a note-taking app on your smart phone.

Be prepared to capture ideas whenever they occur. Carry a small notebook. I use Evernote on my phone to speak my ideas into an audio note.

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8. Make it a habit to set word-count goals.

How long will your book be? Most print books, whether fiction or nonfiction are around 70,000 to 80,000 words. With 250 words per print page, that’s 280 to 320 pages. Decide on your estimated word count, and work out how much you’ll need to write each day to meet your deadline.

Take action by: creating a word-count spreadsheet.

You’ll find plenty of word count spreadsheets online. I prefer to create my own, it’s simple to do. Track the date, your deadline, and how many words you write each day.

9. Make it a habit to read.

Writers read. The more you read, the easier writing becomes, because you’re familiar with words, and how to express ideas in words.

Take action by: scheduling reading time into your day.

Aim to read for at least half an hour a day. Your reading habit will do more to improve your writing skills than anything else, other than writing.

10. Habitually open yourself to experience.

Experiences provide food for your writing.

Take action by: scheduling artists’ dates each week.

Creativity guru Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, encourages writers to go on “artist’s dates” each week. These expeditions are dates with yourself, to explore and discover new things. You go on your artist’s dates alone, so take your notebook. Observe. People watch.

So there you have it. Ten habits to develop which will help you to write your first book, and the books you’ll write in the future.

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Last Updated on November 19, 2019

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

1. Create a Daily Plan

Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

3. Use a Calendar

Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

4. Use an Organizer

An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

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5. Know Your Deadlines

When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

6. Learn to Say “No”

Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

7. Target to Be Early

When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

8. Time Box Your Activities

This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: #5 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.

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9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

11. Focus

Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

12. Block out Distractions

What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

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Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

13. Track Your Time Spent

When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

15. Prioritize

Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

16. Delegate

If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

For related work, batch them together.

For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

  1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
  2. coaching
  3. workshop development
  4. business development
  5. administrative

I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

19. Cut off When You Need To

The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

More Time Management Techniques

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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