What separates a hobbyist writer from one serious about their writing and their career? Dedication. If you want to take your skills to the next level, make serious progress in your projects and create a focused mindset, you need to write regularly. And the pinnacle of writing regularly? Making time for your projects every day.

How can you do that if you have a busy life, with other important demands on your time? Set yourself a goal that is just right for you.

One of the biggest challenges you can face when trying to write on a regular basis is finding time for your work-in-progress. Between all the stuff you really should do, like earning money or going to school or looking after family, and all the stuff you really should do if you want to live, like eating or sleeping, it can seem impossible to carve out some meaningful writing time. So how do you factor writing into your life without making big sacrifices?

The answer: start small. And change your expectations while you’re at it.

Adjusting Your Expectations

You don’t have to spend hours writing to make it worth it. You don’t have to write thousands, or even hundreds, of words. You just need to write a little and often—and when I say ‘a little’, I mean 10 minutes or 100 words or something just as quick to do. Why?

Because it’s so easy you can’t say no.

That’s the secret to planting the seed of a new habit: make it so simple it could almost be part of your routine now. Start with a small change to your day—just 5-10 minutes of writing, something so quick and easy you can fit it into the busiest of days—and adjust your expectations to match.

This isn’t a writing marathon, like in National Novel Writing Month. Get rid of the expectation that, when you sit down to write, you have to write a lot. You don’t, because if you write regularly, it adds up to a lot over time.

What kind of goals could you aim for? You could try:

  • Write for at least 10 minutes
  • Edit five paragraphs
  • Write one page in your journal
  • Outline one scene
  • Write 100 words

Remember that the goal you set yourself is the minimum, not the limit. You should write at least your target amount each day, but do write more than that if you feel able and up for it.

Hidden Benefits to Writing Regularly

Working on your projects a little and often rather than a lot infrequently also carries another benefit—consistency. Write consistently and a habit will form. Like a muscle, your skills will be strengthened. Like the slow and steady tortoise, you’ll make serious progress on your projects. Just keep consistent.

Don’t let a lack of time get in the way of writing if it’s something you want to do. Huge changes aren’t necessary and you don’t have to struggle with a challenging goal. Pick a target to aim for that’s so quick, you can fit it into the busiest of days, a target so easy you just can’t say no.