I'll be honest with you. I hate writing. It's funny because I write for a living.
Guess what? I still can't make scrambled eggs.
I need help and I need it fast.
I want to be a productive writer consistently, but it's easier said than done. So, I reached out to productivity expert David Kadavy, who recently wrote Heart to Start, a book about how to break through roadblocks when creating art.
A big part of productivity is immersing yourself in the right environment, and that's what Kadavy has done. He moved to Colombia just to focus on writing and is known for writing most of his articles on a $20 typewriter.
My first question to Kadavy was simple. How can I write when I have distractions all around me? What's the trick to focusing on the task at hand? Here's what Kadavy said about the one mental trick he's used to become a better writer.
1. Make it a habit.
"The one mental trick I used when writing my book was to maintain a habit of writing," says Kadavy. "Building the habit, in itself, is an accomplishment."
Interesting bit about the habit being the accomplishment. I never really thought of habits as accomplishments. It's always been a way for me to get things done, but I never strived to build a habit.
The first book I wrote was a compilation of blog posts. I told myself I needed to write a blog post every weekday. I ended up writing 140 articles in one year. Those 140 articles turned out to be a great foundation for a book. I actually never wrote with the intention of writing a book.
So Kadavy's comment about building a habit, and the habit being an accomplishment really resonated with me.
I sometimes feel "productivity experts" are born productive. As if they come out of their mother's womb and are already dishing out 500 words a day on the theory of relativity.
I asked Kadavy about some of his failures with productivity and how he was able to break out of the rut, especially in regards to writing his latest book.
This is what he had to say:
"Most people, when they try to build a habit, are so ambitious about it that they set themselves up to fail. For example, I once tried to make a habit of writing 1,000 words a day. I lasted about three days. In writing The Heart to Start, I focused simply on making a habit of writing something, anything, first thing in the morning, every day.
I started with a 10-minute timer. I'd set the timer, and the only rule was I had to write for that entire 10 minutes. If I wanted to keep going after 10 minutes, I did.
Slowly, I built up to writing for an hour every morning. Then I committed to publishing a 500-word blog post every morning.
Before I knew it, I had written enough to turn it all into a book. I started an email list. I promised my subscribers I'd deliver them a chapter a day for thirty days. I still had the habit, but now that I was writing a 1000-word chapter each day, I needed the extra accountability.
Within a few months, I had a completed book."
Perfect. In addition to building the habit, which can be counted as an accomplishment in itself, accountability will help you be more motivated to get more writing done.
I wanted to dive a bit deeper into building habits, because as we all know, that's easier said than done. As it turns out, Kadavy interviewed Stanford behavioral scientist B.J. Fogg as part of his Love Your Work podcast, and it had a lot of insightful information, so I decided to take some excerpts from it in regards to habit building. Said Fogg:
"There's an identity shift that happens when people do a behavior like writing 50 words a day ('Oh, I'm a writer.')...and then that ripples out to other parts of their life."
Interesting. I always thought I needed to write 500 words a day for it to even be considered a successful day. Fogg added:
"If you want to be good at creating habits -- bringing new behaviors into your life -- one of the best things you can do is just lower your standards. Make the behavior smaller... You make the behavior really, really, really small. When it's really small, it doesn't require a lot of motivation to do it, so you can be very consistent."
Be right back. Writing another book 50 words at a time.