The 10 Minute Author by Kevin Partner is another productivity book specifically for writers who want to become authors as Kevin subtitled the book:
Writers writes, authors finish.
This is not about book, has just over 100 pages but it does have a lot of chapters, 28 of them split into three different parts. I have briefly reviewed each part of the book below.
PART 1 – HABITS
This part of the book has 7 chapters titled:
- Chapter 1 – About words
- Chapter 2 – Mini habits
- Chapter 3 – The streak
- Chapter 4 – Chunking, cue, routine, reward
- Chapter 5 – The basal ganglia
- Chapter 6 – Julio
- Chapter 7 – Your reward
Want to become a writer who eventually becomes an author? Then you will need words. You will need to write them down. One word can become 10,000 words and beyond but you will need to write them down and Kevin advises that you start slowly.
So, every word you write is more practise that will improve you as an author. Aspects of writing you found an almost insurmountable challenge become simple and you move onto the finer points of tightening up your craft.
Developing a mini habit can help you get your writing started. According to Stephen Guise, a mini habit is:
A VERY small positive behaviour that you force yourself to do every day.
It’s usually an action so easy for you to take that not not doing it seems ridiculous. Doing that can be very beneficial. Take what Kevin says about writing for 10 minutes a day for instance which is his premise for this book:
Let’s say you manage 250 words on average in those ten minutes, and you stick to your habit for a year. That’s over 90,000 words in the bank: within spitting distance of two novels. In one year. From ten minutes a day.
Just think about that. If your excuse is that you don’t have time to write, I’m sure you can find 10 minutes daily to write. The great thing is, if you set the standard of 10 minutes as minimum almost certainly you will write more than 10 minutes on certain days.
Procrastination is something that prevents most of us from doing what we want because there’s always something seemingly more interesting to do. Kevin advises us on how to tackle procrastination. Start with the mini habit a day, in this case, writing for 10-minutes daily and then challenge yourself to do it for 28 days. There is a large probability that after 28 days, starting with 10-mimutes daily won’t be so difficult.
The last couple of chapters in this section teach us how to build a habit using a bit of information about how our brain works. Most especially we are adviced to develop a habit to start the writing. The following can help:
- Cue: a cue is something that triggers the performance of a habit.
- Routine: this is the habit itself.
- Reward: how your brain learns about whether the habit is worth reinforcing.
Kevin takes the time to explain the brain science behind this but from a practical perspective. You can use this by creating a trigger that motivates you to write (cue), then do the writing (routine) and finally if you do the writing long enough and it becomes a habit, the brain doesn’t it see as a chore any more (reward).
To start writing or do the thing that you want to do, create a trigger that makes you start, that trigger can be as simple as an alarm, or your evening tea time which corresponds with your writing time. Start the writing and the reward will be the feeling of satisfaction you get from having completed your daily 10-minutes and of course your growing word count. One way to reinforce the reward is to record your daily word count. That practice of recording your word count and seeing it causes you to have a positive feeling of pleasure which is a great reward to motivate you to carry on writing for 10-minutes.
PART 2 – PUTTING INTO PRACTICE
Part 1 was about developing the habit, this part of the book is about putting the habit into practice. There are 13 chapters in this section. Here are their titles:
- Chapter 8 – Introduction
- Chapter 9 – Making it easy
- Chapter 10 – Your writing environment
- Chapter 11 – It’s all about timing
- Chapter 12 – Habit stacking
- Chapter 13 – Habit infiltration
- Chapter 14 – Cues,cues everywhere
- Chapter 15 – The ten minutes
- Chapter 16 – Being stoic
- Chapter 17 – When bad things happen
- Chapter 18 -The twenty-eight day challenge
- Chapter 19 – Step by step
In the section we are reminded about taking the 28-day challenge. The key phrase is, go for it. Then make it easy. Whatever you can do to make the 10-minutes a day easier then do so. Next Kevin advices us about setting up the right environment for our 10-minutes habit. That environment may involve somewhere to be alone and a good computer with the right software. Also how do you time your 10-minutes? Simpler than you think. You can use a simple alarm which can be your phone or something else.
Kevin also explores habit stacking and habit infiltration. Habit stacking is when you link your 10-minutes habit to something. For example, writing for 10-minutes after your morning tea or coffe. Or writing for 10-minutes just before you go to bed.
Habit infiltration is replacing an existing habit with a new habit or adding another habit to an existing one. For example, if you usually watch a TV programme at a specific time, why not use that TV programme as a cue to first write for 10-minutes before watching it.
Back to cues again, we are encouraged to set up cues around us to remind us to write for 10-minutes. For instance you can put sticky notes somewhere easy to see as reminders.
Other important aspects discussed are:
- How do you spend the 10-minutes? Kevin advices that we spend it just writing and not researching or editing what you write.
- What happens when bad things happen? Kevin says he still tries to tries to write. For a lot of us this may not be practical as we are weighed down by the event but he disciplines himself to still write and that 10-minutes may even serve as a reprieve from the negative situation.
- Focus on what you can control. You can control writing for 10-minutes so focus on that and don’t worry about whether you will end up writing abest seller or not. You can’t control that. You can always get to the marketing and all that later but in the meantime be in total control of your 10-minutes habit.
This section ends with a step-by-step description on how to take on the 28 day challenge.
PART 3 – WRITING TIPS
In this part of the book Kevin shares some tips on getting the best out of your 10-minute writing. He shares tips from his experience and things he has learnt from others but makes it clear that as individuals we should do what works for us. He also lets us know that there is no single piece of advice that can be considered the best. Different people do different things, yet they still work well.
Following are the chapters in this section and very brief outlines of what you can expect to learn from them.
- Chapter 20 – What should I write? As the title indicates you will get some good advice here on how to choose a genre to write about.
- Chapter 21 -Plot or Pants? How I write: Some people create detailed outlines before they start writing. This is writing by plot. Others without any prior plan just start writing which is writing by pants. Kevin believes no approach is better than the other. Choose the approach which works for you. He describes himself as a ‘pantser’ or someone who writes by pants. Kevin gives an examples of popular authors who take both approaches.
- Chapter 22 – How long should a book be? This is a very interesting chapter which will give you some advice on how long your book should be. His answer is, as long as it needs to be, no longer, no shorter. But he does go on to share some advice that can help you determine the appropriate size for your book depending on which genre you are writing in.
- Chapter 23 – Basic structure of a book: Provides some guidance on how to structure your book. Kevin’s main focus are non-fiction books.
- Chapter 24 – What software should I use for my first draft? Should I use specialist writing software or generic software like Microsoft Word. The advice here can help you make that choice and it will differ for each person. Kevin does use both types of software but if i’m not mistaken he does have a preference for Microsoft Word because of the editing capabilities.
- Chapter 25 – Keeping notes: While you should not interrupt your 10-minutes writing flow, you may get ideas that you need to note down. Kevin gives us some strategies of how to do that effectively. He also suggests a tool called ‘Google Keep’. I intend to look it up.
- Chapter 26 – Do you need an editor? Kevin’s answer to this is yes and he explains why. Although he does make it clear that some people may find it expensive. He does advice us to get an editor that we can afford as it can make a difference to the book we write.
- Chapter 27 – Types of editor: This chapter had some brilliant information on the types of editors and can help you make a choice if you need one. I didn’t know about the different types of editors so this chapter is very useful in sharing that information.
- Chapter 28 – Tips from other authors: This is the last chapter and it contains advice from other authors which includes imformation such as:
- Write, don’t spend too much time preparing.
- Finish what you start even if you are not satisfied with it.
- Read, especially other authors in your genre.
- Find a support community that can help in your writing journey.
At the end of the book are Kevin’s final thoughts and a list of helpful resources.
If you are a budding writer or you started writing then the information in this book will be useful for you. For anyone who wants to start a writing side hustle, then reading this book will help. The idea of writing 10-mimutes daily is brilliant because it is small enough not to feel difficult but definitely adds up over time. Recently, I found out that I write a minimum of 300 words in 10-minutes. In 30 days that is 9000 words and in three months that is 27,000 which amounts to a book of over 100 pages. This means if I commit to 10-minutes a day, I can write four 100-page books a year.
What about you, will you commit to writing 10-minutes daily.