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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 September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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