Daniel’s 10 Minute Rule

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When I meet a new writer, musician, artist, or any other creative type, the foremost question that intrigues me is: “how do you keep yourself on track?”

While most of the time the answer to that question can be boiled down to sit your ass down and just do it, I think that there is much to be gained by inspecting the creative processes of our colleagues.

Allow me a little backstory.

At my evening job, I often work with Daniel, a pianist, raconteur, and all-around great guy, who has a seemingly endless enthusiasm for his instrument.  This perplexed me, because my own enthusiasm (for writing, cooking, reading, you name it) ebbs and wanes with remarkably frustrating consistency.  At first, I chalked it all up to his skill, with the reasoning that “if I were that good at the piano, I’d practice every day, too!”  But then I realized that this proposition would logically render Daniel as a piano-practicing drone, without any agency, and I know that couldn’t be further from the truth.

So, I went back to being perplexed until I finally had the good sense just to ask him.  His answer made complete sense, and went something along the lines of this:

“Well, I make myself practice for 10 minutes every day.  Sometimes, just that 10 minutes of doing the *task* will actually inspire me to keep *tasking.* And even if I stop after the minimum, I’ve still practiced 10 minutes.”

I think that this is a really healthy approach to staying consistent in order to improve a skill.  What I like most is that, as long as you’re doing something that you actually love, this method helps you rediscover little bits of enthusiasm each day until routine becomes habit.  After all, the most difficult part for me is usually getting over the initial hump of fearful loathing and remembering that I actually like this thing called writing.

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Don’t steal my words.  They’re mine. Zachary Barnes 2016©

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