The 3-Minute Habit Which Makes Daily Writing Effortless

Dickie Bush & Nicolas Cole

Ultimate Guide Table of Contents

Ahoy and happy Monday!

Welcome to another week of Start Writing Online—where every week we dive into 1 of the 10 biggest problems all writers face:

  • Distractions
  • Over-editing
  • Perfectionism
  • Procrastination
  • Self-confidence
  • Generating ideas
  • Impostor syndrome
  • Writing consistently
  • Finding time to write
  • Loose feedback loops

(And, of course, if you want to crush all 10 of these AND master the fundamentals of Digital Writing in just 30 days, we'd love to have you in the next cohort of Ship 30 for 30!)

This week, we want to give you a simple 3-step process to make writing every day effortless.

The secret to writing every day for 90 minutes straight?

It isn’t waking up, cracking open a fresh document on your computer, and typing the first thing that pops into your head. This might seem like it’s working for the first few days of a new writing habit, but you will quickly run out of ideas to write about or lose faith in your own ideas. Eventually, the dreaded blinking cursor on a blank page will crush you.

Instead, we recommend using a simple 3-minute habit every single day to make your writing sessions 10x more productive (and far more enjoyable).

Here’s the secret: your writing sessions should start the night before.

It doesn’t matter if you write first thing in the morning, during your lunch break at work, or after you have put the kids to bed in the evening—this daily habit will work for you. It will help you crystallize your ideas, defeat the tyranny of the blank page, and give you something to write about every day. Let’s dive into how this works.

Every night before you go to bed, take out a journal, set a 3-minute timer, and do the following 3 steps:

Step 1: Write down 1 idea that's top of mind

After a long, busy day, there are going to be tons of ideas and open loops floating around in your head.

All you have to do is pick one of them to write about tomorrow. But if you can’t decide, then refer to the ideas you have generated using any of the following idea-generation methods:

The key here is to keep it to 1 idea.

If you pick more than 1 idea, then when you come to your writing session the next day, you will have to make another decision about which idea to write about. This decision will just add an extra layer of friction to your writing (and give your dopamine-seeking brain an excuse to go and watch some TikToks or Netflix to buffer while you “figure out” what to write). You need laser focus in your writing slot to reduce the friction and overwhelm.

Don’t worry, you always have the day after tomorrow to write about your next idea.

Now you have one idea, let’s move on to the next step.

Step 2: Brain dump 10 bullet points on that idea without judgment

The trick here is to get your points onto the page, even if you think they are unimportant or silly.

You can, of course, go beyond 10 if you have more to say about your idea, but 10 is a useful constraint. This number takes the pressure off having to think of every single point related to your idea. This pressure would just be another layer of friction (”I don’t have anything important or useful to say, these are all generic points!”). Don’t judge them, just get them out.

If you are struggling to come up with 10 bullets, then apply the 10 Magical Ways of expanding a topic to your idea:

These 10 Magical Ways give your idea a frame, which you can use to drive the 10 bullet points you generate.

Now, let’s move on to the final (and easiest!) step.

Step 3: Close your journal and go to bed

At this point, you will be excited to start writing (after all, you have just started to get the creative juices flowing).

But don’t! Close the journal, go to bed, and get some sleep. And just like that, tomorrow’s writing process has begun. You will wake up in the morning with 1 idea outlined, which will make starting your writing session far easier than figuring out your next writing idea on the spot.

Now, let’s dive into the 3 reasons why this nightly brain dump makes the next day's writing session effortless:

  • Reason 1: Brain dumping eliminates friction. Waking up to a brain-dumped list of bullets means you never stare at a blank page in the morning—which means it's easy to get started. You gain momentum quickly which helps you drop into flow faster. Less friction before writing boosts the likelihood of reaching a flow state.
  • Reason 2: Brain dumping allows your subconscious to work overnight. Maybe it's a bit "woo woo," but we always wake up with a better grasp of the idea we went to bed thinking about. Our brains make connections overnight, leading to unique insights you would never have thought of while awake. Think of brain dumping as a way to prime your subconscious to let it do the thinking for you. All you have to do is wake up and start writing.
  • Reason 3: Brain dumping clears your head before bed. Often times, you will brain dump on the most important idea you want to write about the next day. You take what’s on your mind and get it all out onto the page—leading to relaxed and restful sleep. And if you’re refreshed and alert the next day, you will be excited to start writing.

Brain dumping is the simple 3-minute habit we do every night before bed that makes writing the next day effortless.

Give it a try, and let us know how it goes for you.

That's it for today!

Chat next week!

–Dickie Bush & Nicolas Cole

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