writing habits and rituals of an indie author

Morning routines, daily rituals, success practices, ways to stay focused and productive, writing habits… We all work on these. And want to improve them.

I’ve always been fascinated with those of other people, though. And so have most of you, I guess.

Because whatever your typical day looks like, there’s always something you can learn and a mini habit you can borrow from someone else who is working on being productive and motivated in order to achieve more in life.

Also, we’re all familiar with the hard-fought journey to working for yourself (in this case, to being a full-time writer).

And then there comes passion, our purpose in life and how we’ll find ways to always have it in mind so that we can stay on our path.

All these describe the life of Michal Stawicki – a hard-working family guy from Poland, who decided to change his life a few years ago.

He’s achieved a lot since then, and to this day hustles constantly, trying to get more exposure for his books, help and inspire more people, and embrace the solopreneurial life and be able to invest most of his time in] writing.

He’s an indie author who gets a lot done, a progress fanatic who has developed a powerful mindset and great habits that help him write whenever he finds the time, stay focused and not let distractions get in the way, together with managing all the things he has to do daily.

And because of all that, there’s a lot he has to share with us.

As he says, he “helps individuals who feel helpless expand beyond their limits so they can regain the control over their lives.” He writes about that in all of his books.

In this interview, he shares how his transformation started, what helped him the most, how his days go, his best habits and practices, and many more little tricks that can help us all turn our life around and be the best version of ourselves.

Here it is:

1. How did your writing career begin?

I’m an avid reader and my mind was always full of fantasy stories. I dreamed about writing since childhood, but have never actually done something about it till I was 33.

On Feb. 26, 2013, I shared in an online Transformation Contest my personal mission statement creation process. One of my friends commented: “You should write an e-book about this.”

At the same time, I was looking for additional income sources. I knew I have to leave my 9 to 5 in order to live a fulfilled life. I had already started a couple of blogs in English and my readers were actively interacting with me. I knew my English wasn’t perfect, but was good enough to share my experience. And I discovered I love to support and teach others. I decided to give this idea a try.

It took me more than a month of research and struggling with self-doubts till I sat down and wrote the first words of my first book on April 8, 2013.
I published “A Personal Mission Statement: Your Road Map to Happiness” on Amazon on May 26, 2013.

So far I’ve sold over 1,600 copies of this book and this was started by a single encouraging remark from my friend.

2. How did you decide to change and what made you start working on improving yourself?

In August 2012, I read a book called “The Slight Edge” by Jeff Olson. It took me a whole month to start implementing ideas from this book.

I took a look at myself and decided this was one person who could surely use some development.

I changed because I was frustrated.
I compared myself to others and saw that they had more friends, more money, better health, and a more rewarding spiritual life. When I looked at myself, trying to predict how I would end up, I couldn’t envision ever reaching the high levels of happiness and financial status they had.

I felt that something was wrong with me. All in all, I wasn’t the stupidest, most insensitive or laziest guy around. Deep inside me I had the feeling that I could do better.

In November 2012, I created my personal mission statement; I consider it the real starting point of my progress.

3. How is your self-improvement process going and what have you achieved so far?

I suppose my process is going fine, because I see results. And I see them in many areas of my life – wealth, health, spirituality… even in my IT career which I basically neglected since I’ve decided to become a full-time writer.

I applied several self-help concepts and started building inspiring results: I lost some weight, greatly increased my savings, built new skills and got rid of bad habits while developing better ones.

4. How often do you write?

6 Creative Ways to Express Yourself in Writing

I write every day at least 1000 words.

At the beginning I wasn’t so consistent and productive. Both issues are interconnected. The more I wrote, the easier it was to keep writing.

The longer I kept my writing streak, the more I was able to produce on a daily basis.

My problem at that time was that I didn’t write on weekends, so my streak was breaking every week. I don’t work on Sundays, so I couldn’t write at that day. Finally, I decided to write for fun on Sundays.

My “for fun” novel is already 53k words long and I’ve been writing every day since September 23, 2013.

That day I started a writing log where I noted what, for how long and how much I wrote.

5. Do you have a writing ritual? Something you do before or after that?

Before I write I try to pray for divine guidance. I do it almost always before my first writing session in a given time. I write best when I plug the earphones and run my special mix of background music.

But I have not established a full writing ritual. I write when and where I can, not when I wish.

6. What mindsets help you find the willpower to write even when you don’t want to?

A few of my beliefs are really helpful in that regard. First of all, I consider showing up more important than the results.

Showing up is a prerequisite. It’s necessary to have a chance for any results. Neglecting it is the surest path to failure.

Another thing is that I developed an enormous curiosity, bigger than any discouragement. If I quit, I’ll never know the end result. I do some things just for the sake of checking if they really work.

The last thing, I identify myself as a writer. This is my self-image. Writers write.

7. Outline your typical day: How does your morning routine look like?

I wake up around 5 am.
I open my eyes and start repeating my personal mission statement in my mind.
I do a quick intensive workout and pray simultaneously.
I drink a glass of water.
I look at my vision board for a few minutes.
I read about dozen quotes from my philosophy manifesto.
I read fragments from a couple of books which shaped my philosophy (about a paragraph each).
I journal for about 10-15 minutes.
I brush my teeth and pray at the same time.
I do 5 to 15 minute cardio workout listening to podcasts or other audio materials.

My routine extends to the commute to work too: more prayers and meditation while waiting for the train.
On the way to work, I write or make up for the lack of sleep by catching a nap.

Commuting between the train station and the office: I practice speed reading, read a book written by a saint for ten minutes and finish repeating my personal mission statement.

Ideally, I reach the office having the biggest daily task—writing 1000 words—done, and having done most of my bigger daily habits.

At work I don’t waste my time on trivia. I work for my employer and whenever I have the opportunity, I work on my business.

During the commute back home I pray, read and work on my stuff.

In the afternoon my energy and willpower are depleted. I take care of a few smaller tasks and wind down.

There is always something to do when you are a solopreneur. I usually work about an hour more at home.

I try to be in bed before 10:30 pm.

Including my commuting time, I work 12-14 hours a day.

My rest consists of my small habits smuggled into the day: naps, meditation, answering emails, connecting on Facebook, reading and commenting on blogs.

In the evening I spend time with my family, do homework with the kids and register my day in my gratitude journals.

8. How do you stay focused?

Three words. Personal mission statement.

I distilled what my purpose is and presented it in words. Once I had that, I started repeating those words every day.

Now they are deeply ingrained in me. I can no longer act against them. Not in the long-term. I can slip from my path occasionally, but my personal mission statement acts as my internal compass. I immediately know I’m going in the wrong direction and correct my course.

9. What is the best skill one can have in order to achieve what he wants?

Self-analysis. It’s the beginning of every other successful skill.

If you can take a look into your soul and see why you procrastinate, you gain the awareness of what’s wrong and can improve your time management.

If you don’t know where to start, you can look inside yourself for answers.
If you have no purpose, you can find it inside and it will release amazing flow of constant motivation.

The best two methods for self-analysis I recommend are journaling and meditation.

10. How do you want your writing career to look like a few years from now?

In a few years I want to be a full-time writer. I want to replace my day job income with my royalties.

I don’t see a reason I can’t earn as much as my mentor, Steve Scott (earns about $15k a month). He has exactly a few years head start.

And I want to have at least 20 more books published.

11. What are you working on now?

Right now I prepare the launch of my next book “The Art of Persistence”.

I’m also in the last stages of editing another one which is much different from my works up to date. It’s about the relationships between self-published authors and their readers.

I also work on the series of books under the working title “The Pursuit of Success,” which is intended for down-to-earth folks coming from our material-oriented society, who are skeptic toward any mind games, visualization, The Law of Attraction and stuff like that.

In this series I’m trying to explain how such mundane activities like journaling, taking a proper care of your body or developing good habits can ultimately lead you to success, even if you initially don’t want to “mess with your mind.”

12. Tell me about your new book “The Art of Persistence”.

I’m an idealist. With this book I want to oppose the overwhelming instant gratification in modern society.

The book is about consistency. I wrote it because people quit too soon on important things and are disappointed with the results they get and all too often—disappointed with themselves.

They repeatedly failed to persevere and thus they believed they can’t change.
My book shows them how consistency is prerequisite of results and how to develop it.

It’s for ordinary people who can relate to me: I don’t have many  resources, no big money or much spare time. In fact, I have only grit. And I am also getting results. I want exactly the same for my readers.

Hope you enjoyed the interview.

So let’s summarize the best practices Michal uses to be productive, stay focused, consistent and motivated, and achieve more in life:

  • personal mission statement;
  • self-analysis;
  • powerful morning routine;
  • writing every day (and basically whenever you find the time);
  • journaling;
  • using your commute to work to write and read;
  • always showing up;
  • being curious – try stuff to see how it will work out.

And here are some links if you want to connect with him:
ExpandBeyondYourself.com (blog)