Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

The Secret to Developing a Regular Writing Habit

This is the year you become a writer. And what do writers do? They write, of course.

500 words

Photo Credit: HaoJan via Compfight cc

There’s nothing mystical or magical about it. You just have to show up and do the work: place butt in chair, fingers on keys, and start typing.

And this is where most people fail. They never actually write a word. They talk about writing, think about writing, even read about writing. But they do not write.

Bonus: Join my free, 31-day writing challenge and get a daily writing prompt for the next month. Click here to sign up.

How writing (really) happens

You told yourself last year was going to be different, that you were actually going to do NaNoWriMo this time. That you were going to work on that book or get back into blogging.

But none of that happened. Why? Because you attempted too much. You tried to eat the whole elephant in one bite. And that never works when it comes to writing.

Here’s what I know about writing: It happens in small bites. Step by step. One little chunk at a time.

You don’t write a whole book. You write sentences that turn into paragraphs. And paragraphs turn into sections that, then, turn into chapters.

In other words, it all begins with words.

You don’t control the outcome, just the process

I’m in the middle of writing my next book right now, and it’s scaring me to death. It feels so important, so audacious, that I’m locking up, completely paralyzed.

I don’t want to mess this up (it’s supposed to be the best thing I’ve written so far). And because of that fear I’m having trouble starting. So what do I do?

Do I try to write the whole thing in one sitting or keep fixating over the book concept? Do I continue obsessing over getting the table of contents just right or worry about what critics will think of this sentence or that paragraph?

No. I just get up and write my 500 words. Turns out, that’s all writing really is — showing up. Not worrying about the outcome, just honoring the process. (You may tweet that.)

Join the 31-day challenge

My 500 Words

500 words is short enough that you can usually find time to do it daily, and it’s long enough that if you stick to a schedule, you’ll have something substantial in no time.

It takes me anywhere from 30-60 minutes to write 500 words. And if I keep up with that pace, I’ve got a book in 90 days. That’s my plan for finishing my next book: 500 words per day, every day, until it’s done. And I want you to join me.

If you’ve ever wanted to develop a daily writing habit or need help getting back on the horse, then you’ll want to get in on this.

My 500 Words is a 31-day challenge designed to help you develop a daily writing habit and become a better writer.

For 31 days, we’ll be writing 500 words a day. These won’t be great words, but they will be written. We’re not trying to reach perfection; we’re just trying to get more ideas out of our heads and onto paper.

And if you want to be part of this, we can keep each other company.

The rules

  • Write 500 words per day, every day for 31 days.
  • You can write more if you want, but 500 words is the minimum.
  • Don’t edit. Just write.
  • If you miss a day, pick up where you left off. Don’t make up for lost days.
  • Encourage, don’t criticize (unless explicitly invited to do so).
  • Blogging counts, but email does not.
  • All of this is totally free.

How it works

  1. Leave a comment at the end of this post, saying you’re “in.”
  2. Add your blog to the linkup on the My 500 Words Page, if you’re a blogger.
  3. Write every day, and record your progress (I’ll be using Lift).
  4. Join the Facebook group for extra accountability and encouragement. You can also follow along via Twitter with the hash tag #my500words.
  5. Sign up for the free challenge to get writing prompts and nudges sent to you via email.
To get started with the My 500 Words challenge and jump-start your writing habit sign up for free by clicking here.

So… are you in? What will you be writing this month? Share in the comments.

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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  • Icy Sedgwick

    I’m totally in!

  • Zoraida Cespedes

    I’m in. 31 Days lets do this.

  • Dina Cataldo

    I’m in! This is gonna be fun.

  • mattkelly

    IN – scared – Ready to write

  • I’m in.

  • Grace Gallagher

    This is great. Trying to do it. Would you be open to the idea of this being reposted on our blog? http://www.misfit-lit.com/ We are trying to get a range of voices; writers writing on writing.

  • amberadrian

    Heard about this in my writer’s group last night. So totally in. Wrote my first 500 (640 actually!) this morning. Thanks!

  • I’m in!

  • Tonya Murray

    I’m in! Writing in 3, 2, 1….

  • Antoniya Koleva Zorluer

    I’m ALL in!

  • RaiRose

    Soooo in! I’ve been procrastinating getting my blog up and running, and this is exactly what I need! Woohoo!

  • Tav Nakei Jordan

    I don’t have a blog, but I do have a book idea. I need help. A deadline doesn’t help me. Encouragement does though.

    • Start with the snowflake method. That helped me. Google it. Eventually, you will start the process and the book just starts writing itself. But you just gotta do it.

  • I downloaded an app called habit bull that I use to track my process. My goal is to write something at least every single day so that it never is far from my mind.

  • Anonymous Writer
  • Hannah Roehrick



    Indeed, so. I started three days ago and so happy to report that I’m using google voice typing, which gets me way ahead of 500 words really fast! Thanks !


    http://www.thehealthreverend.blogspot.com!!!! I’m even improving the layout! loving it all!

  • David Franzen

    I’m in

  • I’m in! I’m nervous + excited. My writing will end up on Medium https://medium.com/@susansnipes and my company blog.

    • John Stroup

      Duh, how did you do that? Set your self up to write & post on Medium, not just check in’s, please?

      • Hey John, I’m not sure I follow?

        I am writing 500 words a day. Part of the output of it will end up on Medium. I am editing my stories separately from my 500 words a day portion.

        So far, I’m on day 3 and have one draft that I want to put on Medium. But it still needs editing.

  • Bonnie Boucek

    In again 🙂

  • John Stroup

    Right. I’ll be following along with the 7 Days of Blogging Challenge (hope fully to set up my blog come April) & for discipline, following the writing prompts here. I had begun & was well along with 500WED from last Fall & long-storied fell out before completion. I’m back.

  • AnonymousAuthor


  • LPN

    I’m ‘in’. I will be writing on Medium. Please follow me on http://medium.com/@2Pennethworth.

  • Penny Jo McAllister

    Sounds fun.

  • Debora Dingle

    I am having fun. I thought 500 words a day would be difficult but so far I have met the challenge. I haven’t come up with a theme yet but I did start a blog.

  • Атхам Султон

    I just want to let you know that I just check out your site and I find it very interesting and informative.


  • Ruth Kagoyire

    Am in

  • Maretha Retief

    I am in

  • Marina/AccordantLife

    I’m in – starting April 1st! 🙂

  • Sukanya Charuchandra

    I am doing this. Starting today! 🙂

  • VeildeMyth

    Lets write!

  • serdechnoe

    Impressive web site, Distinguished feedback that I can tackle. Im moving forward and may apply to my current job as a pet sitter, which is very enjoyable, but I need to additional expand.

  • Alic & Franc
  • Good golly, Miss Molly – better late than never.

  • Daphne
  • Sawitta Sukkasem

    Very interesting, I’m in!

  • Maria Saitaki

    This challenge can be the motivation that I needed. Let’s see what happens!

  • shama besley

    Been watching, reading and learning for years and years. I’m in. Time to get writing.

  • Sabrina Bingham

    Looking forward to the writing prompts and participating here!

  • Consuelo

    I m totally in!!!

  • HeedShift

    I’m in.

  • iftasham

    This challenge can be the motivation that I needed. Let’s see what happens!
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    Looking forward to the writing prompts and participating here!
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  • Krissy Lo

    Starting this today! ASAP!

  • Lisa

    I’d already written 2,349 words before I found this, all set to do more than 500/day from now on!

  • Anna Pavlisova

    Starting it!

  • Mohammed Basah

    I am in

  • Leonel Morales

    I’m IN

  • Juan Abrego

    I’m in

  • Veronica Hymes

    I’m in!

  • Nickey G


  • Abi

    I’m in

  • Jennifer Weiner

    I’m in!

  • Martin Perlin

    This is just what I’ve been looking for! I’m in.

  • Lexie

    I’m in!

  • Celestial Z.

    I’m in!

  • Amber Mae

    I’m in!

  • Nita Lewsey

    I’m in 🙂

  • Renee Jean

    I’m in!

  • girrafe

    I’d already written 2,349 words before I found this, Watch The BFG Online
    all set to do more than 500/day from now on!

  • I’m in for sure

  • iftasham

    all set to do more than
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    500/day from now on!

  • I’m in to get started. Posting at: https://medium.com/@knelarson

  • kap65

    I’m in! Posting at http://gabrielsmom.com/

  • Penny Chorafa

    Hello Jeff, what an inspiring challenge to motivate our writing skills!
    I am in of course!
    I just viewed you interview from the Work by Design summit, loved it! Starting a new blog in about a week at http://wearitcrochet.com, so this challenge could not have come in a better time,
    All the best, Penny

  • Lana Veltre

    Doing this :3 <3

  • The Crazy Smurf

    I am doing this

  • SeeW

    I’m in for sure! I joined the facebook group, and asked the following question: is the 500 words supposed to be actual, thoughtful writing or just stream of consciousness free-writing?

  • Priscilla


  • Michaela Lawrence Jeffery

    I’m in.

  • Lexi

    IM in. trying

  • Kim Hawkins

    I’m in!

  • Natasha Quinonez

    All right, I’ll give this a shot! I used to do Morning Pages, so I think I could try this. I hope it actually leads to a daily habit!

  • ZookeeperMama

    I’m in!

  • blueramle

    Ok! I think I’m in~ I’ve been trying out the Morning Pages thing for a while (though I don’t exactly write every day… I try ><)

  • Sharon

    I’m in!!!!

  • Ayeesha Jahangir

    im in!

  • teachermrw

    I’m in -starting NOW! 🙂

  • Candice Williams

    I’m in 🙂

  • Dana

    I’m in

  • Pobl9

    I’m not a writer but like lots of people I harbour the desire to be able to write

  • Akio Takeshita

    I’m in!

  • Sarah Betha

    I’m in 🙂

  • LeeAnna Tatum

    I’m committing to the 31 day challenge… I have spent too much time relying on “inspiration” and not putting in enough “perspiration”!

  • Jen Hughes

    I’m in 😊 So excited!

  • OK. I’ll do it. Thanks for the challenge.

  • I’m in…here we go!

  • Ari

    Lets do it! This should be so much fun… I’ve needed the help developing a schedule.

  • h

    I will start now

  • Lynn
  • Eric Klee

    I’m all in on this. Great Idea, Jeff.

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  • Julie

    Thank you for the challenge. Finding you via Facebook comes at a really great time. I have a blog but must get it re-set. Will hope to add my link.

  • Iraida

    I’m in! 😊 This may be just what I needed! Thank you.

  • Chimaobi

    I really love the challenge. It will definitely have a positive long term effect on everyone that wants to improve his/her writing skill. Let the challenge begin!!

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