Tim Ferriss and Neil Strauss have nine New York Times bestsellers between them, so when these two sit down to talk about writing and habits, it’s wise to sit up and listen.
When Neil joined Tim on the couch during The 4-Hour Life on CreativeLive, the pair discussed two of the biggest, hardest subjects for writers: how they tackle projects and what keeps them writing.
For Tim, the practice is managed by routine.
“My quota for writing is two crappy pages a day,” he explains. Those two pages help him get started, matter what other commitments he is meeting that day. And even if they’re bad, they’re at least done.
The idea is to set goals that are “easily winnable” so you don’t panic when one day passes and you don’t make that goal, because you always know you can easily pick back up the next day.
“If I don’t write my two pages I don’t panic and go into the spiral.”
While Tim’s last book clocked in at 672 pages, that commitment to just two pages a day helped him keep up the habit of writing so no matter how productive he was or wasn’t on any given day, he was always working towards the goal of finishing the book.
To fuel his writing habit, Neil leans on passion.
“How do you know what your passion is? Well two things: One is whatever it is doing at 11 or 12 and a school teacher or parent isn’t making you do, that is your passion. The second is asking, what would you do if you didn’t get paid for it?”
Neil had a life-long dream of being a writer. For him, that subconscious calling kept him working on personal projects even when he had a day job. It was his strategic approach to advances that buoyed his career.
Check out the whole (one hour!) conversation and get more great insights on consistently writing and fueling your creativity.
For more insight on habit formation, check out Art Markman’s course, The Power of Habits.