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"Are you paralyzed with fear? That's a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it."
~ Steven Pressfield, The War of Art
None of us have enough time, so we’ve got to make the best use of the time we’ve got. If you want to make more time for your writing, you’ve got to be intentional — both with the time you set aside and how you use it.
Writing abides by Parkinson’s Law. In a 1955 essay in The Economist, British naval historian Cyril Northcote Parkinson wrote: “It is a commonplace observation that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” He wrote the essay as a criticism of the British Civil Service, but that first line resonated deeply with his audience and became the basis of several articles, a book, and a robust speaking career.
Parkinson’s Law is well known to writers because we’ve all experienced it. That simple article you’re writing? Well, it will take up as much time as you allow.
That’s good news and bad news.
The bad news is that if you set aside an entire day to write a 1,000-word article, it will take the entire day to write it. The good news is that if you only have an hour, you’ll get the piece written in an hour. So how can we use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage?
Five steps to developing a robust and sustainable writing practice.
One of the best ways to take advantage of Parkinson’s Law is to start a writing practice. Developing a writing practice will get you used to writing quickly, imperfectly, and on a tight deadline. Your writing practice is a practice. It must become part of your routine to be effective. Sticking to your practice is the only way to make it part of your routine. Set yourself up to succeed by following these five steps:
Give yourself the time and space you need to make your writing practice a part of your routine. As you get comfortable with a short practice, you can build upon it and start adding structure and definition to each writing session.
Make the most of the time you have.
To make the most of the time you have available for your writing practice, embrace the shitty first draft. Not only will this make you a faster writer, but it will make you a better writer and a deeper thinker.
By writing your first draft as quickly as possible, you get all your ideas out on the page without interrupting yourself and stopping the flow of your thoughts. Once you capture your ideas on the page, you can refine and polish them until they are ready to be shared publicly.
The key to establishing a writing practice is to be intentional and create a practice that fits your schedule and suits your writing style. The more you write, the easier it will be, and the more you will enjoy the process.
To get started, schedule some time on your calendar right now. Commit to writing a shitty first draft of an article, email, or LinkedIn post. And then keep that commitment to yourself and your writing.
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