Illustration of a dark haired woman in singlet putting legs up and down with books in front

Tip 21: Break it down

Bikram Choudhury (love him or loathe him) is the world’s most infamous yoga instructor who built a wildly successful business based on just 26 yoga postures. So what can Bikram yoga teach us about writing a book?\

‘The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and starting on the first one.’
– Mark Twain

Last week in my Bikram class I found I was lagging towards the end.

So coming into locust pose, I set a small goal: Just lift both legs.

So I did.

Then I set another goal: Lift a little higher.

So I did.

After that I said: Lift as high as I can.

So I did.

Next goal: Relax.

And on and on I went with this in mind, into each pose, until 90 minutes later, I had finished all 26 postures.

Breaking down your main goal into incremental, achievable chunks is not a new concept, but it’s the easiest one to forget — it doesn’t matter if you’re practicing yoga, writing a book or climbing Mount Everest.

Stop focusing on what’s in front and just put one step in front of the other.

This is also why I like that you practice two sets of each of the poses in a Bikram class.

I always use the first set to warm up the body, see how I feel, and how far I can push. Then on the second round, I‘ve worked out whether I’m ready to challenge myself and dig a little deeper or pull back and save my energy.

That’s a great way to approach your writing.

Each time you write something, feel your way through. If it feels good, then keep going. If it feels awkward then pull back, reassess why and try again.

You achieve more when you do less.
You achieve more when you break it down and focus on small goals.

You’ll achieve that book when you stop trying to finish it and focus on actually writing it.

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Kelly Irving

I’m an editor and writing coach with a love for deep-diving into brains and businesses. Through my one-to-one work and online program, I provide an action-by-action process that speeds up the time it takes to produce your best book, and turns overwhelm and self-doubt into momentum and excitement for writing.


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