Make writing so easy that you can't fail

Baby Steps

"There's a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don't and the secret is this: it's not the writing part that's hard. What's hard is sitting down to write.
What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance." 

Steven PressfieldThe Art of War

So, if what stops us from starting to write is our resistance to change, how do we defeat our brain's resistance? Well, there are a number of things which can help, such as motivating ourselves by remembering what our end goal is, ensuring that the writing habit gets tagged on to an existing daily activity so that we don't forget to do it, or making sure that we'll get some form of reward for beating the resistance.

But the one we're going to discuss today is breaking things down to such small baby steps that there's much less to resist.

If you think that when you sit down to write, you need to write the first chapter of a magnum opus that will change the face of your industry, that gives your brain something huge to resist. If, on the other hand, you're just planning to sit down to do five minutes of free writing, then there's no need for your brain to put up such resistance. Then, once you're sitting down writing, you may well decide to carry on for a while, maybe start tinkering around with the opening to your first chapter - but even if you don't manage that, you've still started building the habit by carrying out your small, baby step activity.

Since, as the saying goes, a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, if you can do enough baby steps you'll still get to where you need to go.

So, have a think about it. What, for you, is the smallest possible amount of writing that would still be useful? How much could you do in just three minutes? Would ten minutes be short enough to defeat your brain's resistance? How about five minutes?

Experiment - if you go too small, you can end up thinking that it's such a pointlessly tiny amount of writing that you might just as well not do it, so you need to find the Goldilocks amount that's just right for you - big enough for there to be a purpose to doing it, but small enough not to automatically create a huge amount of resistance. For me, telling myself I'll do seven minutes works quite well, despite seeming ridiculously precise - somehow it just feels short enough to be entirely doable but long enough to make a tiny bit of progress.

As Leo Babauta says, "make it so easy you can't say no."

Over to you - can you come up with a 'getting started' amount of time or number of words that you think will work for you?