When the Mastering the Writing Habit teleclass and co-coaching group discussed the power of breaking big tasks into small, doable steps followed by rewards, Eileen P. posted these 4 simple steps for her Product Time on her office wall. (These are the 4 steps I mentioned in the Bigger Life Radio podcast that Jaime commented about.)
Step 1: Turn on computer; give myself a small reward.
Step 2: Open the file for the project I’m working on; give myself a small reward.
Step 3: Read the file; give myself a small reward.
Step 4: Start a new sentence; give myself a small reward.
Most of the time, this recipe propels Eileen into her writing. “Start a new sentence” is small enough to avoid the stress that would trigger a limbic system takeover that causes resistance. Each step is easy and leads naturally to the next step. Writing one sentence usually triggers another sentence and another, and before she knows it, Eileen is immersed in her writing. You will be, too.
The frequent rewards make the whole experience interesting, engaging and keep Eileen coming back day after day. In essence, the recipe calls for repeatedly combining small steps with small rewards to create big results.
If your writing kitchen is off the grid (that is, sans computer while on vacation or because you prefer to write with pen and paper sometimes), combine Steps 1 and 2 to “Find and open notebook to last writing entry for this project; give myself a small reward.”
If you’re starting a new writing project and don’t have a file to read yet, change Step 3 to “Review the research; give myself a small reward.” Step 4 can either be “Freewrite one new sentence; give myself a small reward” or “Do a few minutes of research relevant to the project; give myself a small reward.”
The small, frequent rewards are a key ingredient in this recipe. If you’re tempted to skip a couple of those rewards or figure you can just substitute one large reward when the whole project is done, you need to be sure to read E.P.’s Recipe Part 2 in tomorrow’s post!
If you’re not sure what counts as a small reward, you’ll find that in tomorrow’s post, too.
You’ll get the most out of Part 2 if you try Eileen’s 4 Step Recipe today. It only takes 10 to 15 minutes, so what are you waiting for?