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.
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.’
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.”