Writers — you gotta love them. Procrastination is without a doubt, the biggest hangup they face. “I’m writing a book,” a writer tells me. The writing and publishing plan I created for him lands in his Inbox…
Then… crickets. A week later, I contact him, and he hasn’t even read the plan, much less started on the book. Procrastination strikes again.
The 2-minute rule can help you to write a book
If you haven’t heard of the two-minute rule, it’s a technique popularized by productivity guru, David Allen. Basically, if some thing takes less than two minutes, you do it right away. You can use the rule on long tasks on which you procrastinate too — you give yourself two minutes to get started on the task. That two minutes breaks your inertia, and you’re likely to keep doing the task.
The 2–Minute Rule works for big goals as well as small goals because of the inertia of life. Once you start doing something, it’s easier to continue doing it. I love the 2–Minute Rule because it embraces the idea that all sorts of good things happen once you get started.
Let’s look at how you can use the two-minute rule when you’re writing a book.
1. Create a main character in your book in two minutes
I like Penny’s character-questioning process for fiction authors:
Here’s an important tip: your character interview gives you your character’s back story. You’ll discover who your character is, and what his greatest fear is. Your story (novel, novella, or short story) starts after the incidents which he tells you.
Think of a character (use Penny’s adjective and noun), then ask the question — hey presto, you’ve created a character.
2. No time? Maybe, but you’ve got two minutes
You’ve been meaning to work on your book, but over the past week, you haven’t even had time to open the computer file.
Give yourself two minutes to open the computer file, right now, and write a couple of sentences. They don’t need to be wonderful sentences. Don’t read what you’ve written, just write the sentences.
This simple strategy usually ensures that you carve a few minutes out of the busiest days to write a page of your book.
3. Two minute to a deadline: when you really, positively need to finish your book
Your book is due in a couple of weeks. You’re only at the 50% point. There’s no chance you’ll make your deadline, so you procrastinate. You haven’t written a word in days, and are frantic about your deadline.
I know the feeling. 🙂 You feel overwhelmed.
Open your book’s computer file, and spend two minutes with it. You can write sentences, or read a few pages, it doesn’t matter.
This simple tactic might be enough to overcome your procrastination. If it isn’t, open the file two more times today, and spend two minutes with it each time.
Chances are that you’ve conquered the feeling of overwhelm, and your procrastination, and you get to work on completing your book.
Can you think of ways YOU might use the two-minute rule to write a book?
My friend Penny uses the two-minute rule to research her historical fiction: “If I Google, something, and can’t find it in two minutes, I’ll put a large XXX in the manuscript. I’ll deal with it in rewrites.”
I use the two-minute rule to rough out an upcoming scene in my novel on an index card. Just who’s in the scene, what they want, and the purpose of the scene. Although I don’t force it, I write the first and last sentences of the scene too, if they occur to me.
Try the two-minute rule if you’re a procrastinator. 🙂
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