Write In: How Can I Get More Writing Done?

Question: Dr. Davies, how can I get a lot of writing done? I tend to procrastinate.

The solution to your problem is clear: you must write for half an hour every day, preferably first thing in the morning.

Here are the benefits:
  •   When you work on writing every day, the ideas never really leaveyour mind. Your unconscious works on it while you do other things during the day. You see connections you otherwise would not. People often say "I need a few good hours to get into writing." This is simply not true if you get to the same document every day. See Boice (1989) for an empirical shattering of this myth.
  •   The routine keeps you doing it.
  •   You are more productive. Boice (1989) found a 70% increase in
    writing productivity by doing this, when it was enforced. You also
    come up with more good ideas (Boice, 1983).
  •   Because it's such a short time, you are more willing to commit to
    it. For the first week or two, don't let yourself keep working after
    the half hour is over, else you will not believe yourself when you try
    to get your ass in the seat for "only a half hour."
  •   If you only allow half an hour a day, you feel the fear of God in you, and you work.
  • You have more willpower in the morning. Write with it before you waste it on other things.

Try it, it's amazing.

Recommended reading:

Since I started writing this way in 2005, I've written three books (as
of yet unpublished), a full-length play, and numerous other things in that time.


Boice, R. (1989). Procrastination, busyness and bingeing. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 27(6), 605-611.
Boice, R. (2000). Advice for new faculty members: Nihil nimus. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
Boice, R. (1983). Contingency management in writing and the appearance of creative ideas: Implications for the treatment of writing blocks. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 21(5), 537-543. 

Pictured: Death found an author writing his life.. Designed & done on stone by E. Hull. Printed by C. Hullmandel. London, Dec. 1827.

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Jim - this is great advice! I've found it applies more widely as well. When you have a task you've been putting off - cleaning the garage, reading a difficult book, organizing files - do it for 30 minutes a day. You'll be surprised how much you can accomplish this way, and it rarely feels like a strain, because you're only at it for 30 minutes at a time.

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