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Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

Does Your Writing Have a Reservation?


“Writing reservations” could mean reservations about writing (aka resistance) or it could refer to the time you reserve for your writing.

How can you get a reservation for a relaxed writing experience at a fine writing table without freaking yourself out about how big and significant the reserved time is? Because if you don’t define ‘writing reservation’ in a positive way, making a reservation for your writing could create reservations about writing.

It’s an apparent contradiction: writers need to reserve enough time to go deep into their writing process (more about this in upcoming posts), yet writers need to make small time commitments to avoid resistance.

Small Commitments, Big Targets

Let’s start by clarifying the difference between a commitment and a target. A commitment is something you will do No Matter What. A target is something you’re shooting for, something you might hit, but if you don’t, it’s Not a Big Deal.

Commitments must be small. (Read more about the brain science behind small commitments) Set the bar so low you can’t help but walk over it. Commit to the number of minutes you know you can honor even if you have to lock yourself in the bathroom at 11:45 pm to show up. Commit to no more than 15 Magic Minutes.

Targets, on the other hand, can be big. In fact, with targets, the bigger the better.

You don’t have to get a bullseye every time. You don’t have to ever hit the bullseye. You don’t even have to hit the target. Just land somewhere in its vicinity.

Shooting for a target is how you discover what’s possible. Set a target that lets you stretch and show yourself how far you can go.

You make a small commitment and you shoot for a big target.

How to Set the Target

Reserve time on your calendar when you can be available for Product Time (aka writing time). Commit to 15 minutes or less and block out as much time as you want on that day.

If your calendar is digital, create a recurring appointment highlighted in a color you use only for writing. For example, my recurring writing appointment is from 9 to 10 am in dark purple, Monday through Friday, and has no ending date specified.

At the beginning of each week, I confirm whether I can expand my targets to give me more time to do what I love, or if the targets need to be shifted to another time in the day. When I’m talking to my dentist’s receptionist to schedule a cleaning, I don’t offer the upcoming dates and times that are blocked off in purple. If I chipped a tooth and need to see my dentist pronto, I’d reschedule my writing reservation if that’s the only time I could get in.

Respect the Reservation

Give your writing reservations the same respect you’d give another person. Don’t make appointments, sign up for classes, agree to meet a friend for coffee, and so on during time you reserved for your writing.

I mean, really, would you get up in the middle of the meal at a fine restaurant and excuse yourself because you need to take the dog to the groomer? And expect the person you left hanging would ever make plans with you again?

If you need to schedule some urgent, unexpected activity during time reserved for writing, check to see if you can reschedule. As in, “Sorry, Chris. I can’t meet you at The Copper Kitchen today. I have to [insert name of urgent, unexpected activity]. Can we meet two hours later?”

There may be times when you must change or cancel a reservation regardless of whether you can reschedule. These are called ‘emergencies.’

happy writer finish project 123rf number 10770721_sWhen You’re Done, You’re Done

You don’t have to work the entire time you reserved; just don’t let anything else get in the way.

If you show up, put in your 15 minutes of Product Time and you feel done for the day, it’s quitting time and no regrets. Go do whatever you want.

You honored your commitment (Hooray!) and you took a shot at the target (Hooray!)

You see the difference between calling a friend and saying “Let’s go for a walk” after you work your 15 minutes versus canceling your writing reservation in advance to go on the same walk with the same friend, right?

Ready to make your writing reservation? “Table for one, follow me please.”

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    […] when the time you reserved for writing arrives, endure FOMO without scratching the itch. It won’t be too long before you get into your […]

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  2. Track Your Way Out of Writer’s Block: Tricks of Tracking #3 | Bane of Your Resistance - December 1, 2016

    […] Reserve time in your calendar to do what you commit to. Don’t let anything else creep into that reserved time. If you absolutely must schedule something else, move the block of reserved time somewhere else on that day — don’t delete it. […]

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  3. Don’t Let ‘Attention Residue’ Derail Your Writing | Bane of Your Resistance - September 29, 2016

    […] less obviously, you can minimize attention residue by optimizing when you reserve time for writing. You’ll get more out your Product Time if it is not preceded by other activities that require […]

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  4. Why Writers Should Schedule Distractions | Bane of Your Resistance - September 23, 2016

    […] a previous post, I encouraged you to reserve time for your […]

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