How To Write A Book When You Have No Time: Use The 2-Minute Rule

No time to write a book? You need the two-minute rule, especially if you’re a procrastinator, as I am.

Many writers struggle with procrastination. “I’m writing a book,” a writer says. But he can’t get started. Or, if he starts, he procrastinates and stops.

The 2-minute rule can help you to write a book

If you haven’t heard of the two-minute rule, it’s a technique popularized by productivity guru, David Allen. Basically, if something takes less than two minutes, you do it right away. You can use the rule on long tasks on which you procrastinate too: give yourself two minutes to get started on the task. That two minutes breaks your inertia; suddenly the task is less intimidating.

From How to Stop Procrastinating by Using the “2-Minute Rule”:

The 2–Minute Rule works for big goals as well as small goals because of the inertia of life. Once you start doing something, it’s easier to continue doing it. I love the 2–Minute Rule because it embraces the idea that all sorts of good things happen once you get started.

Let’s look at how you can use the two-minute rule when you’re writing a book.

1. Create a main character in two minutes or less

You build your characters, as you build your plot. Avoid over-thinking.

Here’s how to create a character in under two minutes. Choose:

  • A name.
  • The character’s age.
  • His occupation.
  • A big problem…

You can get a lot done in two minutes.

2. Everyone has two minutes

You’ve been meaning to work on your book, but over the past week, you haven’t even had time to open the computer file.

Give yourself two minutes to open the computer file, right now, and write a couple of sentences. They don’t need to be wonderful sentences. Don’t reread what you’ve written, just write the sentences.

This simple strategy ensures that you carve a few minutes out of your busiest days to write a paragraph (or even a page) of your book.

Keep writing in two-minute sessions. You’ll be amazed at how those sessions keep you moving forward with your book.

3. Two minutes to a deadline: when you MUST finish your book

Your book is due in a couple of weeks. You’re only at the 50% point. There’s no chance you’ll make your deadline, so you procrastinate. You haven’t written a word in days: you’re so frantic you’re paralyzed.

Open your book’s computer file, and spend two minutes with it. You can write sentences, or read a few pages, it doesn’t matter.

This simple tactic might be enough to overcome your procrastination. If it isn’t, open the file two more times today, and spend two minutes with it each time.

Chances are that after you familiarize yourself with the book again, you’ll conquer your procrastination.

Can you think of ways YOU might use the two-minute rule to write a book?

My friend Penny uses the two-minute rule to research her historical fiction: “If I Google something, and can’t find the answer in two minutes, I’ll put a large XXX in the manuscript. I’ll deal with it in rewrites.”

I use the two-minute rule to quickly rough out an upcoming scene in my novel on an index card: who’s in the scene, what they want, and the purpose of the scene. Although I don’t force it, I write the first and last sentences of the scene too, if they occur to me. Later that day, when I sit down to write, I don’t procrastinate: the two minutes have eliminated inertia.

Try the two-minute rule if you’re a procrastinator. It’s a powerful writing tactic.

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