Book Review – The 10-Minute Author by Kevin Partner

10 minute authorThe 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.

Book Review – Overcome and Get It Done by Jamie Dixon

Overcome and get it doneOvercome and Get It Done by Jamie Dixon is a small book that you can read in one sitting. I read it in a day and I was more inspired by the author’s story. Jamie wrote the book in 24 hours. Not bad for a book with 59 pages with 24 chapters. More on that, the 24 chapters are bite-sized but contain some really good lessons. I have given a very top-level review of each chapter below.

CHAPTER ONE – THE PLEASURE PAIN PRINCIPLE

This chapter describes the two sources of motivation which are approaching pleasure or avoiding pain. Jamie describes the approaching pleasure motivation as approaching pleasure in the presence and avoiding pain. The second one is about going through pain in the present for future pleasure. These two types of motivations are constantly in conflict with each other and the big question is, how will we balance that conflict?

CHAPTER TWO – MAKE THE FUTURE INFLUENCE THE PRESENT

Here’s a quote:

“Our Future motivations must be strong enough to influence our Present motivations if we are to be motivated to take purposeful actions in the present.”

What does this mean? What you want to achieve in the future must be so important that it generates in you a strong motivation in the presence to take action.

CHAPTER THREE – USE WILLPOWER SPARINGLY

According to Jamie, willpower is the force we use to resist our present motivations.

It’s about forcing yourself to do or not do something and Jamie uses an interesting elephant and rider metaphor to illustrate how tough using willpower can be. Jamie’s conclusion is that we should rely more on motivation to get things done rather than willpower.

CHAPTER FOUR – CONNECT WITH YOUR UNCONSCIOUS

Use a key question to get yourself thinking about your motivations. That question is, What am I doing this for? Whatever you are doing, ask yourself that question. It will help you think about your motivations for doing what you are doing.

CHAPTER FIVE – OVERCOME YOUR LIMITING BELIEFS

“Limiting beliefs are basically the beliefs we hold about the way the world works that create problems for us.”

Jamie says that beliefs create behaviour. This implies that limiting beliefs will create in us limiting behaviour. Four steps to address limiting beliefs are presented here:

  1. Step 1 – What problems am I facing right now? Problems are normally an indication of limiting beliefs so identify your problems as they may be linked to your beliefs.
  2. Step 2 – What limiting beliefs may have caused the problems? If you have identified the problems, start digging into the kind of beliefs that may have led to them. Jamie shares an example as follows, If I have too much work, it’s probably because of my belief that I cannot say “No”.
  3. Step 3 – Redefine those limiting beliefs into success beliefs. Change the ‘I cannot’ to ‘I can’. Redefine the limiting belief to move you forward and not to hold you back.
  4. Step 4 – Imagine and practice new behaviours that align with the redefined success beliefs.

CHAPTER SIX – PLANT SEEDS

Do little things now which grow into big things tomorrow. Plant the seeds today for the future you desire tomorrow. This links to the two types of motivation. Go through a level of pain today that attracts the pleasure you need tomorrow. According to Jamie, seeds can be planted in simple ways such as having a conversation and writing things down. These seeds of course grow into ideas that can go on to become great things.

CHAPTER SEVEN – VISUALISE IDEAS BROUGHT TO LIFE

Ideas exist only in our mind. The amazing thing about our mind is that we can use our imagination to create things that have never existed.

The advice here is for us to use our senses through visualisation to bring our ideas to life. According to Jamie:

If you want to bring your ideas to life then start by using your library of sensory representations to imagine what this idea will be like. Visualise your ideas brought to life.

CHAPTER EIGHT – MAKE HARD THINGS EASY

There is some interesting stuff here. How can we make things easier, especially if they are about goals that seem overwhelming? The answer is to start with baby steps. Start with actions that are not painful and keep growing from there. For example, if your goal is to get fitter through exercise, don’t start with 60-minutes, you will inevitably fail and get frustrated. Start with 5-minutes and grow from there. According to Jamie:

Baby steps require no pain whatsoever, and they’re not even painful to think about. Further more, if each baby step has a reward, even if the reward of knowing that you’ve just got a lot closer to your overall goal, then we super like those kinds of baby steps.

He also writes that:

To bring your new idea to life, whatever it may be, probably involves quite a lot of steps, The smaller you can make each of those steps, the faster you will accomplish it.

CHAPTER NINE – CREATE ACCOUNTABILITY

Jamie writes that:

Accountability is a great way of manipulating your own manipulation.

Create accountability that pushes you to work towards your goals. You can do this by inviting other people to provide you with pleasures to seek by rewarding you when you achieve what you said you would do and pains to avoid by inflicting some form of punishment when you don’t. Find accountability partners that you can set up this kind of agreement with to boost your motivation.

CHAPTER TEN – BE THE ARCHITECT OF YOUR OWN SUFFERING

Intentionally put yourself through sacrifices or as Jamie puts it suffering to achieve what you want. For instance start learning new skills and retraining yourself now, don’t wait till you are made redundant because your current skills are not needed anymore. Don’t get too comfortable with where you are, disrupt yourself and keep developing and learning. That is painful today but pleasurable tomorrow.

In life there is suffering. You can either wait for it to happen to you, or create it on your own terms. I prefer the latter.

CHAPTER ELEVEN – YOUR JOB IS ALWAYS TO SERVE

As opposed to the thinking that we are highly competitive people, we are more of a cooperative species, Jamie writes. In order for us to get what we want, we all serve each other in one way or the other. Jamie states that, Money does not make the world go round. Cooperation does. So find what you do well and serve others with it. According to Jamie:

The key is to realise that your job is always to serve other people, no matter what you do.

He also writes that:

Your job is not to follow orders. It’s not to meet the required standards. It’s not to tick boxes. It’s to serve people.

I also like this quote:

It is the people who get clear on who they are serving, and find ways of serving them better, that get the best opportunities in life.

CHAPTER TWELVE – PERFECTIONISM IS ARROGANCE

When it comes to serving other people, our own standards don’t really matter. It’s the standards of the people we serve that matter.

We should support others according to their own standards and not our own. Also, when we do things we should not let a perfectionist mindset hold us back.

When we use our own self-doubts to stop ourselves from sharing our creative work with the rest of the world, we’re making it about us, when it should be about them.

CHAPTER THIRTEEN – SURF THE WAVES OF MOTIVATION

Motivation is not constant, it can change from time to time. It’s important for us to observe our own motivation cycles to understand when our motivation is at its highest so we can get things done.

CHAPTER FOURTEEN – THINKING BREEDS INACTION

There is a time to think but at some point you’ve got to act. Stop overthinking things and take action otherwise you won’t do anything.

Because as we think, we give room for our limiting beliefs, for our self-critic, for doubts to plant their seeds and grow strong. We start to doubt ourselves, we start to question what we’re doing, we start to consider what else we should be doing. All of this breeds inaction.

CHAPTER FIFTEEN – SACRIFICE

Getting things done, is actually a lot more about choosing what not to get done. 

Most people have too many commitments in this modern world. Our minds simply can’t cope with that. We have to focus on the essential and sacrifice the non-essential to be productive.

CHAPTER SIXTEEN – BATCH PROCESSING

Batch processing is where we process just one type of task in a set period of time.

Focus on just one type of task at a time. You should schedule related tasks to specific periods and do them. That way you are not switch-tasking.

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN – OUTSOURCE

We can’t do everything. Where possible we should outsource what we don’t want to do so we can focus on what we want to do.

The goal is simply to outsource what we don’t want to do, so that we can focus more on what we want to do. And ideally, we outsource in a way that motivates the other person as much as possible.

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN – FIND YOUR TOOL

Find the right tool to help you get things done. For instance, Jamie uses Scrivener for writing and editing the books he writes instead of struggling through Microsoft Word. Finding the right tools can make us more effective and according to Jamie:

Tools help us do things we couldn’t do before, like how airplanes enable us to fly across continents and oceans, which we literally could not do before they existed.

CHAPTER NINETEEN – ALWAYS START SMALL

Does a task seem too big or overwhelming for you? Break it down into small steps and concentrate on one small step at a time. Jamie puts it this way:

Never start big. Always start small. Remember, people don’t do big things. We do tiny things. But a lot of tiny things, eventually lead to big things.

CHAPTER TWENTY – BUILD A WALL

To focus on what you need to do, build walls around you that banish distractions. Walls in this sense are things you intentionally do to prevent distractions so you can focus. Building these types of walls may require you to communicate with people and prepare. For example, Jamie builds his walls by going off to places where he can be alone to work undisturbed.

CHAPTER TWENTY ONE – FIND THE RIGHT CONSTRAINTS

Create constraints that help you to be more productive and creative. Constraints allows you to set limits so you can focus on the work. For example, if you are writing you can put constraints on word count per chapter and focus on reaching that word count. Or when designing you can set constraints for the amount of colours to use so you are not constantly changing your mind. Constraints like this help you to apply discipline to your work.

Before you start any creative project, decide on the constraints of this project. You only need to decide on the constraints ONCE. You only need to apply your creative energy to designing these constraints ONCE. And then with those constraints in place, you can now direct all your creative energy to bringing your idea to life.

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO – REST, FUEL AND MOVE

The message here is simple, to be productive, you need to rest and take care of yourself. That includes eating well, exercising and making sure you rest adequately.

You have a body, whether you like it or not. If you don’t take care of it, it won’t take care of you.

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO – REST, FUEL AND MOVE

The message here is simple, to be productive, you need to rest and take care of yourself. That includes eating well, exercising and making sure you rest adequately.

You have a body, whether you like it or not. If you don’t take care of it, it won’t take care of you.

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR – PERFECTION IS A PROCESS

Jamie writes that, “perfection is never the outcome, Perfection is a process”. I like that. Also, remember that, done is better than perfect. Concentrate on getting things done and learning along the way. Don’t let the urge to be perfect prevent you from acting. Or as Jamie put it:

Don’t let perfection become the enemy of good.

That’s it, twenty-four mini-chapters which contain some useful advice. You can’t lose reading this book. It’s small and a lot of the advice is practical. You are sure to pick up one or two things you can use.