The 1% Rule of Writing

Rise and shine, Writer-buddy, it’s time to overthrow the capitalist patriarchal hegemony with your stories! Woo yeah! Pep pep pep etc and so on.

You’ve got a lot of things to write. Like, a whole lotta brilliant and important stories and – the horror – they aren’t going to write themselves.

But how? How do we write them, goddamit!?

I’ve got a friend who vehemently stands by a thing she calls the 1% rule.

If you’re struggling with motivation or time or stress or just getting the stupid thing done, give yourself 1% of the thing you need – time, space, confidence, rest, whatever – because 1% is easy, right? Then the next day you can do that 1% again, and again and again.

You keep on going, chip-by-chip, and by luck or momentum or force or magic, that 1% will grow because things only seem impossible until you start.

Once you start seeing all the ways you can carve out the time or the care or the love, you can keep on carving until you find the core.

How that works at the beginning doesn’t matter. All that matters is you give yourself 1% and trust that it will work.

But here’s the thing. Or a thing. One of many things. Here is one thing out of infinity things: you can’t do it all in those first 1% bursts.

American writer Clarissa Pinkola Estés says “art is not meant to be created in stolen moments only” and dang is she right. Creativity isn’t meant to be done in snatches while you put the kids to bed, or in between Zoom meetings, or while doing the washing up, or in fractured thoughts while doomscrolling.

We need long sweeps of introvert time, wandering, Mary Oliver-like, through the meadows and forests, or deep and serious thinking, hour after hour, Ursula Le Guin-like.

But here’s another thing in the infinity of things: that’s not a luxury most of us have (because of the capitalist patriarchal hegemony etc and so on).

So lower your expectations.

Don’t expect to get it all done this second, or tomorrow, or the next day. Just start with your 1% and trust that it will get done eventually.

Write for two minutes more this week than you did last week. If that just means you write for two minutes – it’s a win.

Read for five minutes more this week than you did last week. If that just means you read for five minutes – it’s a win.

Chip-by-chip.

Step-by-step.

Word-by-word.

You’ll get there.

Go write.

Sarah & Team WHQ

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