20 minutes a day to write the great Aussie Novel…

…or at least write some darn good ads or blogs….

copywriting-formulas-list-682x1024Writing is a discipline. It’s an art, for sure, but it’s also a bit of a science. There are definitely formulas to create good writing. Apart from character development, knowing your audience, grammar, tenses, plot development, features-advantages-benefits and that sort of thing, one of the big formulas to learn is simply about TIME. Spending time writing each and every day will not only improve your writing, but it will improve your mindset around writing, which will ultimately create better writing.

I recently ran a survey asking people about their learning styles but also about what frustrates them in terms of content development. Do you know what 75% of respondents said? FINDING THE TIME TO WRITE.

So here it is peeps. An easy-to-implement (but sometimes hard to stick to!) discipline to help you actually find time in your week to write.

You’ve heard the old saying ‘you have to spend money to make money’, right? Well it’s the same with writing. You have to spend time writing to find time to write.

How many people do you know who want to write a book? It’s been burning inside them for years. But they just never do it. And not usually because the idea is bad, but because life gets in the way and they ‘don’t have time’.

I read a fun article last year about bucket lists. Not surprisingly ‘write a novel’ was in the top 50 things to do before you die. In fact it was 24th on the list.

So, regardless of whether you have lofty ambitions as a novelist, or you have a great idea for an online course, or you just want to be able to keep in touch with your fans by banging out a couple of business blogs and social media posts, you need to actually structure your week to factor in some quiet writing time.

Writing something for your business, in particular, should never be considered a luxury…something to do in your spare time….or something to do only when everything else is done. Because you know what? You WILL NEVER DO IT!

Every excuse in the book will come up. I’m too busy. I’m burned out. I’m away too much. I don’t know what to say today. I don’t feel motivated today. I spend too much time in front of the computer already. It never sounds quite right. I should be doing that thing over there instead. It’s too noisy today. It’s too quiet today!

(I can feel you nodding now….!)

Excuses are just that. Lame reasons for not doing the thing you know you ought to be doing. And whilst writing a novel may be a luxurious past time (except if you’re an already published author and have an agent breathing down your neck for the next book!), writing for your business is no luxury. It is a necessity.

I hear business owners constantly talk about wanting respect and recognition in their field of expertise. Wondering why competitors get asked for comments or interviews and not them. Wondering why noone seems to care that they are actually the best in their field and have something to offer? Well, it’s because they’re not out there. They’re not spreading their word and knowledge wide enough. They’re not vocal enough. They’re not being seen enough.

There is SOOO much noise out there in business land now. Everyone is an entrepreneur. Everyone is fighting for a slice of the pie. The only way to really ‘make it’ is to be bloody good at what you do (that’s a given) and to tell people about how bloody good you are at what you do (with grace and professionalism not arrogance!).

So, content is the way to do that. Writing stuff about something that you know about. Making it your own. Then sending it out to the world to add value to someone, somewhere. It’s the only way to start being perceived as an authority in your space.

So back to making time to write then…

MAKING-TIME-TO-WRITE TECHNIQUES and other failed attempts at organisation!

I’ve tried a bunch of techniques myself. Most of which haven’t worked, but there is one that has. That’s not to say however that some of these others won’t work for you – everyone runs their day and their enertime-to-writegy differently, but the common denominator is ‘making time to write – every day.’

– I tried getting up when my husband does, which is about an hour earlier than I would normally, to use this time to write. It was quiet, there were no interruptions and I would get it out of the way before the rest of the day started. BA BOW. I was so damned tired that my writing was really crap, I resented being up so early when I got so little sleep anyway and the rest of my day was a long drag of droopy eyelids and yawns.

– I tried the ‘writing-holiday’ technique. I’d go away for a day or weekend with my laptop, promising myself that I would simply revel in the hours of ‘free time’ to write. PIFFLE. I’d get distracted by whatever new location I was in and research the best beach/bar/antiques store in the area, or I’d stupidly check my email and get sucked down a vortex of client work that simply HAD to be attended to.

– I set myself arbitrary dates for when I would get a certain piece of writing completed.  The dates would come and go, I would reset them in my calendar – feeling incredibly efficient and organised – and still get bugger all written.

So then the guilt kicked in. I hated myself for failing at all these techniques. I abhorred my lack of focus, my lack of conviction, my laziness. But the truth was I was just damn scared to get started writing in any kind of regular fashion, so I was doomed to fail from the outset. And it was just stupidity. Some crazy blockage. I wrote reams and reams of verbose diatribe in my teens and twenties. I have degrees in Literature. I know how to write, let me tell you! But for some reason when it came to writing for my own business I had a blockage.

(Sound familiar?)

So here’s the thing. This is really as simple and as complex as it gets.

SCHEDULE YOUR WRITING TIME EVERY DAY AND MAKE IT NON-NEGOTIABLE.

It doesn’t actually matter if it’s morning or night or in the middle of the day, just schedule it in for 20 minutes, and stick to it. Everyone has different rhythms, different energy burning at various times of the day, different tasks they have to get done in a work week. But the one thing we all can do, is find 20 minutes in the day to write.

My time is night time. It’s quiet. The kids are asleep, the cats have settled, my phone has stopped ringing and I’m calm. My imagination is better at night time and my creativity is flowing. I set the timer on my phone, write furiously for 20 minutes and stop. Regardless of where I am, I stop. The reason for this is to train yourself to use the time wisely by throwing everything into it and maximising your output without over-stretching it.

I guarantee you, you will get shitloads done!

Why?

Focus on one task is completely possible – and probable – for 20 minutes. Even when you’re tired and busy, 20 minutes is doable. It’s really only once or twice round the water cooler in the old corporate days. (Seriously, if you can’t find 20 minutes in your day, you need to sort your shit out – there is TOOOO much going on.)

If you make your writing time first thing in the morning before anything else, your mind is fresh, uncluttered and available. If your time is at the end of the day, your day is done, you’ve calmed down, the stars are shining. It’s peaceful at either end of the day and these would be my recommended times for you.

Stopping after the allotted time is really important. If I kept writing, I think I’d be overwhelmed and ultimately this would stop working for me. I’d feel great on the days I wrote for an hour and really crappy on the days I couldn’t manage 10 minutes. So, find the time that’s right for you – if 20 minutes is too long make it 15 – then stick to it.  The more easily you can fit this time into your schedule, the more successful it will be for you. You’ll get heaps more achieved and, seriously, you will reap the benefits big time by expanding your profile through your content.

So whether it’s a blog, social media posts for the week, research papers, case studies, a novel, marketing materials, whatever…..think about how much you could achieve it you just gave yourself a calm, happy 20 minutes each day to write….

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