How to finally make it as a writer (Part two!)

Today we’re continuing our four-part series designed to help you get past the roadblocks and obstacles that hold you back from fully moving into the writing life you want.

(If you haven’t seen the first part, you can take a look at it here.)

My goal for you in this series is to help kick-start the process through a few proven exercises so that your professional writing career takes shape sooner rather than later.

Do these exercises, and you will experience positive results that will make becoming a professional writer more attainable for you.

Today’s exercise worked so well for one of the people in The Writer’s Circle, he was able to write 75,000 words in four months … after struggling with writing for years.

Why I’m taking you through these exercises now

I’m releasing a new product this week – Design Your Writing Life – that’s essentially a step-by-step blueprint for how to go from where you are now to the writing life you’ve always been looking forward to.

It will be available with a special launch discount on Thursday, May 8th, and I wanted to share a few select parts of what I teach inside it so that you can get a taste of what the course is all about.

Your next exercise is below!

Exercise #2 – Break resistance by tricking your brain

We cover a number of “writing myths” in Design Your Writing Life that are the common things that hold people back from developing a consistent writing habit, but one of the common threads in these myths is making the act of writing a bigger deal than it is – and giving your power away by thinking conditions must be ideal – either inside you or in the outside world – in order for you to be “able” to write.

Of course there are some circumstances in which writing is easier than in others – but by no means should they dictate your ability to write in the here and now. But the belief that now – any given now – isn’t the right time to get some writing done is a career killer.

In this exercise you’re going to have the chance to interrupt your normal patterns around writing and sneak in under the radar of any resistance to writing.

All you need to do is this:

  • Schedule 5 minutes in the morning to write, and don’t put any expectations on writing well. Then do it again each day.

That’s it. Just 5 minutes, preferably as close to first thing as you can, but if you need to integrate it with your first coffee of the day (or something similar), that can work, too. Just five minutes, at a time you won’t “forget.”

Scheduling it makes all the difference.

This is how Rikard Berguist managed to write 75,000 words in four months and changed his writing life forever. And you can do it, too.

Important Note: The more this idea seems like it won’t work for you, the more likely it is that it is exactly what will change things for you as a writer.

I’ll explain.

Here’s why this works so well to make writing easier for you

The act of taking just five minutes can help you side-step your resistance because your brain won’t quite take the exercise seriously. After all, it’s just five minutes, and it’s in the morning. As far as your brain is concerned, it will be over with soon enough.

It’s almost like it’s not a threat to any ingrained beliefs you have about writing being difficult. (It doesn’t hurt that you’re also not trying to do your “best” writing, so the pressure’s off.)

This does a few things for you:

  • One, it breaks your normal expectations around writing – instead of striving to “do it right”, you’re “just doing it.”
  • Two, it begins the process of normalization – your brain begins getting comfortable with the idea of writing being a planned part of your daily routine, like a coffee or a shower.
  • Three, it helps reinforce your identity as a writer, because it’s something you’re doing more often. Writing will start feeling more like something you “do” rather than something you “should be doing.”
  • Four, it can rapidly improve your creativity. David Boice, a well known researcher in the realm of academic writing, has found that writers who write on a daily basis are twice as likely to have frequent creative thoughts as writers who write when they “feel like it.”
  • Fifth, it can rapidly improve your skill as a writer. There is mounting evidence to show that “spaced practice” can lead to faster skill building than “massed practice” – meaning that the more little practice sessions you have, the more your brain can strengthen long-term memory associated with the writing process. So those 5 minute sessions each day will trigger and re-trigger the brain to get into “writing mode” more easily over time.  

The wonderful side effect of this exercise is that it doesn’t take long for those 5-minute writing bursts to get longer. Without resistance slowing you down, you’ll find yourself wanting to write for 10 minutes, then 15, and beyond. Rikard worked his way up to an hour a day “sneaking under the radar of resistance” and had this to say:

I gave myself permission to write badly. I told myself “I am writing crap,” and suddenly I was writing about 750 words during that hour every morning. And surprise, it wasn’t all crap.

Four months later, he was typing the last words on a completed first draft.

Take 5 minutes now and do this exercise, and let me know how it goes!

Now is as good a time as any to give this exercise a try – just take 5 minutes now to break the ice and see what you can get written – and then decide when you’re going to do your daily 5 minutes from now on. Remember, you’re not going for your “best” writing in this space – we’re simply getting the habit in place.

Writing for 5 minutes won’t feel normal yet. Soon it will, though, and you’ll begin to feel your identity as a writer strengthen and solidify.

Once you’re done, take a moment to tell me how you feel at the end of the exercise! I look forward to cheering you on. :)

So go set your timer, and write!



  1. Hi Jenna,
    I kept putting of my writing today, but while reading your email today, I decided to put the five minute writing exercise to the test. Well it worked and I wound up writing for ten more minutes!
    The timer thing is great, this is such a great concept to apply to any habit. Just five minutes…just do it!

    • Donna, Good for you!! A timer can really make a huge, huge difference, can’t it? I’m so happy you went for it, and thanks for being the first one to comment on this post!

  2. I decided getting a high , comfortable bar stool that will put me on level with my large screen computer that is on a high dresser would be useful when I am too tired to move my computer around and want to stay near my bed. I can dictate on that computer. This goes much faster and my typing is terrible. I never learned to type because I didn’t want to be a secretary and I think I read a line from Dorothy Parker at a young age which warned of women learning to type and ending up in the Siberia of a typing pool. I stood before the computer and set timer for 5 minutes and dictated. I already had a scene in mind and followed that. I ended up with about 2 1/2 pages within 15 minutes or less. I need a good bar stool.

    • Good for you for writing for 5 minutes, Margaret! And neat idea about the high bar stool instead of the low table idea you posted on part one of this series. I like how you’re paying attention to what works best for you.

  3. Christina says:

    Hey Jenna,
    This was a good exercise. I’ve been battling against resistance all week, fooling myself into believing that I will do my best writing on the weekend. When in fact the weekends are the worst time for me. I’m faced with too much unstructured time. I can’t handle it. i need a schedule that someone else puts into place for me, and who I have to answer to, aside from myself. Answering to one’s self, I know that was a topic covered in the past. I’d be very interested in taking on that challenge. Better yet, break from not answering to myself.
    All the best

    • Christina, Great awareness! I find that on the weekends, unless I write first, I get into a weird wrestling match with resistance because I have other important family priorities on the weekends. I’m finding that I prefer to write on weekdays or weekdays plus one weekend day first thing. It’s a great thing to be in dialogue with yourself about.

      Answering to yourself is one important part of the puzzle. So is finding tricky ways to sneak past the resistance and make it happen. :)

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