atomic habits

7 Tips to Complete Your Novel with Atomic Habits By Coach Simone Kelly 


I know many of you have been struggling to get a novel completed.  Or maybe you find it difficult to find the time to just sort out your many ideas. Trust me, I’ve been there!  The key is to make writing a habit and not just a hobby. It’s not just something you do when the inspiration hits you.  By having a plan, you’ll definitely be able to set yourself up for success. 

Writing a novel is a rewarding journey, but it can also be an overwhelming and challenging task. If you’re like many writers, you’re probably struggling to complete your novel due to lack of discipline, consistency, support,  and motivation. I recently read, James Clear’s revolutionary book, “Atomic Habits, and it’s is a GAME CHANGER. It’s not just to help you with writing, but it can help you knock out all of the things that are on your bucket list! The book is jam packed with strategies and valuable insights on how to cultivate small habits that lead to significant achievements. In this article,  we will explore seven powerful ways to apply the principles of atomic habits to finish your novel and turn your dream into a reality.

1. Get Focused On What to Write:

First things first. Define the scope of your project, including the genre, word count, and target completion date. I don’t mean the publishing date, just the date you plan on having the first draft completed,  so that you can start to edit it. 

I like to plan out my books with a outline. Even if you don’t stick to it 100%, get out the main points of the story first. It will help you organize your thoughts much better. Just get it out of your head onto the paper. 

Divide the overall goal into smaller, manageable tasks, such as writing a certain number of words each day or completing specific chapters by set deadlines. These bite-sized goals make the process less overwhelming and help build momentum. Once you get clear on what you want to write it’s like magic. It’s similar to when you get a new car, you start to see your car every place you look.  

Inspiration will be pouring out of you and you might even have what I like to call “Popcorn Brain”. The key is to have ways to capture the ideas so you don’t get overwhelmed or get analysis paralysis. 

Ways to Capture Ideas: 

  • Use the audio feature on your phone, the notepad in your phone, or alway keep a small notepad on for your ideas. 
  • Have an area in Google docs just for your brain dumps so that you can keep your mind fresh, but not forget your ideas. 
  • You may get inspired from podcasts, books, TV shows, current events, movies or even a crazy conversation you overheard in a coffee shop.  People watching is definitely a great resource! Lol Juicy content. 

For those writing non-fiction, I tell them to write an article a week and  within a few months you’ll  have a completed book. My very first book,  Jack of All Trades, Master of None? was based off of many of my newsletters about business, marketing, and personal growth.   The bite size pieces from your blog or newsletter can turn into your masterpiece! 

2. Eliminate Distractions:

One of the major obstacles to finishing a novel is succumbing to distractions. In the digital age, it’s easy to get sidetracked by social media, emails, or other non-essential tasks. In Atomic Habits  Clear talks about the importance of  “environment design” to overcome distractions effectively.  You know what distracts you, so make those your triggers invisible i.e.: 

  • Have your tools handy, so you don’t waste time looking for things. Keep your resource books for research near by. If you write free hand, have your favorite pen and notebook on your desk. 
  • Put your cell phone on do not disturb, airplane mode, or even better put it in another room if possible. 
  • Designate a distraction-free writing space where you can focus solely on your novel. Location is key! You may have your specific location you write in daily or you may switch it up. Check out how to create your Writing Sanctuary here.
  • Invest into some noise reduction headphones 
  • Silence notifications on your devices or use website blockers during your writing time. 
  • By doing this consistently, you create an environment that supports your writing habit and minimizes temptations.

Moreover, be mindful of any internal distractions. I find it even helpful to meditate or journal before writing to release any stress so that you can focus on just writing. 

3. Know Your Time of Genius:  

To write more and write well, you need to know your body’s rhythm for peak performance. When are you rocking and rolling and ultra focused?   Are you a morning person where you get up and go? Do you like writing after a long day while you’re unwinding? Whether it’s early mornings, late nights, or during lunch breaks, make writing a non-negotiable part of your day.

How much time will you allocate to writing?  (20 mins, 30 mins? An hour?) Or how many words on a page would you like to write in your session? (Ie: 500 words) Apply the “two-minute rule” from Atomic Habits. Commit to writing for just two minutes every day, regardless of your schedule or mood. The idea is that once you start, you’re likely to continue writing for longer periods.

4. Utilize Habit Stacking: 

One of my favorite techniques that Clear provides for writers to enhance their productivity and creativity is habit stacking. It’s simply combining your writing habit with something you do already as a habit. It makes it much easier to stick to. 

Here are some examples of Habit Stacking:

1. After pouring a cup of coffee in the morning, spend 5 minutes freewriting in your journal or working on your current writing project. This habit stacking connects your writing practice with your morning coffee routine.

2. After finishing your lunch, take a short walk to clear your mind and generate ideas. Writing after a short walk can help you approach your work with a fresh perspective and renewed energy.

3. After turning off all electronic devices and getting into bed, read for 15 minutes. This habit stacking helps you wind down and can also improve your writing by exposing you to different styles and perspectives.

4. After a workout session, jot down any new creative ideas that came to mind during your exercise. Physical activity can stimulate creative thinking, and capturing these ideas immediately can prevent them from slipping away.

5. After dinner, spend 10 minutes brainstorming potential article or story ideas. This habit stacking allows you to leverage the time after a meal, which is often a time of relaxation and contemplation, to fuel your creative process.

My personal habit stacking process can be writing after I meditate and journal with a cup of Vanilla Chai Tea. I burn some incense or light a candle as well. I need to have on some instrumental music or just dead silence. My phone is on  do not disturb as well, then it’s off to the races!  

Remember that habit stacking can be personalized to fit your specific routines and preferences. By pairing new writing habits with existing ones, you can create a more consistent and productive writing practice.

5. Track Your Progress:

Incorporate the habit of tracking your writing progress to stay motivated and accountable.  Atomic Habits highlights the significance of visual cues and how they impact habit formation. Use a calendar, a spreadsheet, or a habit-tracking app to record your daily word count or the number of pages you’ve written. It’s like a natural high for me to check off something in my notebook or hit the done button in an app. Seeing your progress visually can boost your confidence and encourage you to maintain your writing habit

Many people feel more accomplished when they have a visual indicator to see their progress. Here are some examples: 

  • You can use something as simple as a calendar on the wall or whiteboard. 
  • An excel file where you check off the days you wrote.

I know others that like: 



6. Reward Yourself!:

Additionally, consider creating a reward system. I call  them ME-TIME REWARDS.

 Ie: You can’t finish binge watching that show on Netflix until you write 500 words today. Then when you do, break out the popcorn and enjoy some chill time. 

Treat yourself to something enjoyable or relaxing after achieving writing milestones. Celebrating your accomplishments reinforces the positive habit loop and makes it more likely for you to continue making progress on your novel. Do your own research and see what works best with you. 

James Clear highlights the significance of identifying the cues and cravings that lead to undesirable habits. If you find yourself procrastinating or facing writer’s block, explore the root causes and address them. This self-awareness will help you steer back on track and maintain momentum in your writing journey.

7. Build Your Writer’s Tribe: 

I could not do this alone. When I first began writing, I joined workshops and conferences to connect with other writers. I’ve met some amazing authors and I continue to  work on improving my craft with amazing teachers/coaches.

 In the last few years, I’ve created my own community on FB called The Writer’s Lab to help support others. Let’s face it, we all need accountability. Writing can be a solitary pursuit, but having a support system can make a significant difference in completing your novel. Share your writing goals and progress with friends, family, or fellow writers. Join writing groups or online communities to connect with like-minded individuals who can offer encouragement, feedback, and motivation.

Accountability partners can also be incredibly beneficial. Set up regular check-ins with a writing buddy or a mentor who will hold you accountable for your writing goals. Knowing that someone else is aware of your progress can be a powerful motivator to keep pushing forward.


Incorporating the principles of atomic habits into your writing process can make a world of difference in completing your novel.  Get focused, know your time of genius, eliminate distractions, incorporate habit stacking, track your progress, reward yourself, and get your writer’s tribe together. 

Remember that the key is consistency, not perfection. Embrace the journey, stay dedicated to your writing habit, and watch your novel come to life one word at a time. 

Learn how to create your own sacred space for writing, go here. 


Atomic Habits

Atomic Habits






 Happy Writing and Own Your Power!


Coach Simone Kelly

  Stay tuned for part 3 in this series: Build Your Very Own Writer’s Tribe


P.S. If you haven’t already read any of my books. Check them out here! 


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