Most writers struggle with getting their writing done for one surprising reason. They think writing is a one-step process, when in fact, it's a three-step process.
What we call “writing“ is actually made up of three distinct activities: coming up with ideas, turning those ideas into drafts, and then editing those drafts into publishable pieces.
When I decided to become a writer and made the commitment to write 500 words per day, every single day, I quickly ran into the resistance that holds most of us back from doing our work.
I'd get up early, brew my coffee, and sit down to write. And I'd wait. And wait. And I'd wait for the words to come, but nothing would come quickly. Some days, nothing would come at all.
The minutes would tick by, with me stupidly staring at the cursor, squandering what little time I had before having to go to work. When my writing time was over, I'd pack my stuff up, defeated, and beat myself up for the rest of the day.
Why couldn't I focus?
The truth is most writers struggle with this. Because they believe the myth that writing is one thing. When I realized that coming up with a great idea, writing 500–1,000 words on that idea, and then editing that idea into something I could publish on my blog — all in one sitting — was, in fact, a ridiculous goal.
I began breaking those activities — ideation, creation, and editing — into three separate actions. And you know what? When you have one goal to accomplish, you are far more productive and focused than when you have three.
As I did this, writing became easier and easier. I started writing more. I stopped getting writer's block — period. I didn't feel stuck anymore. I knew exactly what I needed to do, and I knew I could do it — so I did.
What resulted was, to my own chagrin, a system. To be honest, I'm not a very organized guy. I wish I were. But the truth is most of my life is messier than I care to admit. But what I've realized is every working writer I know has some sort of system to get the work done.
A system doesn't have to be complicated or confusing. It just has to work. To quote my friend Tim Grahl, a system is just a way of doing something that gets you a predictable result every time. Like, putting your keys in the same place every day after work (which I only recently started doing).
Below is my system, and maybe it'll work for you, too. I call it: The Three-Bucket System. And it's how I get my writing done.