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.

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 the next 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 newsletter to get writing prompts and nudges sent to you via email.
  6. At the end of the month, we’ll regroup and evaluate, sharing what worked and what didn’t. I may even highlight a few success stories.
To find out more about My 500 Words and how to get started with this 31-day writing challenge, check out the My 500 Words page.

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

About Jeff Goins

I am the author of four books, including The Art of Work. I also run an online business teaching writers how to get the attention their work deserves. Every week, I send out an email newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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  • http://www.juan-day.com Lyke Daryl Basilio

    I’m in!

  • Carol Montgomery Merchasin

    I’m in!

  • Anna Henricson

    I’m in!

  • John Hungerford

    I’m In!

  • Conrad

    I’m in

  • C L Smith

    I’m in!

  • Jan Schröder

    I’m in.

  • Marika H.

    I’m in~

  • Caitlin

    I’m in! I’ve been trying to write more anyways, so this is perfect for me!

  • Kayla

    Im in!

  • Bexindra

    I`m in!

  • Davey

    I’m iiiiiiiiiiiin!!!

  • Alex ShiRa

    I’m in… :). This challenge will be my first time writing… I’m kinda excited and terrified at the same time. Yeah… overwhelmed would be an appropriate word :)

  • li

    I’m in!

  • Melyssa Lake

    In, in, in!

  • Julie

    I’m in!

  • Vi

    Ok, I’m in!

  • Starfarer

    I’m in. I am only counting words added to my book. Notes, outlining, background, and so forth does not count. I do not write on Saturdays, but I will write 1,000 words one other day of the week (usually Sunday) so that my total per week never falls below 3,500.

  • https://fabtapped.wordpress.com/ Amor Urate

    I’m in

  • Dennis

    I’m In. I’m working on a novel, but I would imagine I’ll be writing about several different topics just to keep things fresh and changing.

  • Sadie

    This is totes happenning and if you wanna see what I write find me on Wattpad (sadiesadielady)…or don’t, it’s up to you. It’s mostly just ramblings anyways

  • James Rogers

    Looking forward to another round though the 500words challenge

  • http://julieboyles.com Julie Boyles

    I’m in. Don’t know what I’ll write about, but I’ll stick to it.

  • joncarllewis

    I want to do this.

  • Duck Dodgers

    I’m in!

  • Rebecca Carr Schrodt

    Just what I needed! I’m in!!

  • Sarah Freed

    I’m in!

  • Audra Christensen Silva

    I needed a jump start after a lengthy break ~ I’m in!

  • Anthony Lehecka

    I’m in!

  • Sheryl Lee

    I’m in

  • http://onedaytodaychronicles.blogspot.in/ Patralika Mitra

    I’m in

  • http://www.andykoehn.com Andy Koehn


  • Jonas Novaki

    Count me in!

  • Person with a BS degree

    i am in, en español e inglés

  • Judy Herman

    I join whole-heartedly! Thanks, Jeff.

  • Maria

    I am in!

  • Leann Richardson

    Starting July 1st! Love this challenge!!!

  • Kelli Caldwell

    Yep, let’s do this!

  • Lavena Fisette

    I’m in!

  • Jen C.
  • Sophia Besitka

    I’m starting to write creative nonfiction and I’m doing the challenge (along with other prompts). I share the awesome writing prompts I find and give feedback to the makers after I finish them. You can find me here: drunknonfic.wordpress.com (i follow back!).

  • Eric J. Thompson

    I’m in! ejthompson.co, @pax_et_bonum_ on twitter.

  • plfletcher3

    I am so in!!!!!

  • Benita Balsiger

    I’m In!!

  • http://forsheismorelovely.com/cgi/wp/ ForSheIsMoreLovely Blog

    I’m in!

  • http://www.mystoryourstory.org/blog Terry Gibson

    I’m in. Find me on twitter @bookmark_terry. My blog is http://www.mystoryourstory.org.

  • http://itsanoverflow.wordpress.com Emeline Beltran

    in! :)

  • http://theblessingconduit.org Rachel McDermott

    I’m in!

  • Janice Purnell

    I did it @ 566 words today…now on to my “day-job”

  • Alex

    I’m in!

  • Chandrashekhar Iyer

    Count me in!

  • Brianna

    I’m in!

    I kind of joined backwards. So far I’m on Day 8 and joined the Facebook group before I posted link to my blog and started the email prompts. I am so honored to be. This is saving my life.

    Several difficult months of personal pain have finally brought me here. I’ve stopped giving the advice to others and started giving the advice to myself. I’ve stopped hiding behind the stories of other people in my life and started stepping into my own. I am a writer. I do write. Now I will take a step and believe that I can turn PRO.

    This month, I will be writing about my personal journey of recovery from being a messed up, manic daughter of an alcoholic to woman with a purpose. And my desire is to share what I’ve learned from recovery with others like me looking for a way out of self-hate, procrastination and fear.


  • http://www.manalthegogogirl.com/ Manal The Go Go Girl

    I’m in and look forward to the challenge!

  • Lina Eladnore

    I’m in because I need motivation to finish my Camp Nanowrimo Novel and this seems perfect :)

  • Paul Christopher

    I’m just hoping to build in the habit and discipline of writing every day in order to notice the time to get some stories out of my head into the heads of others.

  • Shannon Nicole Senger

    Very much looking forward to diving into a new form of creativity. We’ll see if this sticks!

  • Robin

    For some reason, I thought I had signed up for My 500 Words. When I sent for the book “The Art of Work”, I signed up for all kinds of things that day and even had a few times where a prompt page mentioned that I’d already signed up for a newsletter! Oh, well–such is life. Anyway, I’m looking forward to some new ideas to get me writing again more. Thanks so much for this! And I’m also signed up in two of the Facebook groups–My 500 Words and The Art of Work.

  • Fukt

    It’s always nice when you can not only be informed ……but also entertained! snabblån

  • Bouncer333

    In…. exactly what I need to kick this habit back into shape!

  • Jen Lovejoy

    I’m in! All 7 calling signs fit – guess I need to DO IT!!

  • AlbaLnz α

    I’ve been doing this for about… a months or so. But I’m in,anyway =D

  • Colin Rochford

    I’m in. Colin Rochford

    Checkout #ourjillian

  • Violet Starr Voyles

    I’m definitely in. I love to write, but i always seem to lose my plot by the 3rd or 4th chapter.

  • ZachHOfficial

    I’m ready for this challenge.

  • Greta

    I’m in for the month of October. Blog posts, school papers, poetry, and a story idea I have.

  • siny alex

    I am in for the month of October . I am in the process of starting a blog . Hope we all go a long way !!!

  • MFrederick Smith

    I am in for October. Today is the 4th. 10/4 – 11/4. Let’s roll.

  • AKM

    I am in….it is October 5th in Asia. So starting now, started already…..

  • KimsVision

    I must create a habit and rhythm for my writing. I am hopeful that this will help me do just that! October 4th–it starts today. I’ve created an outline and focus for a blog, and even wrote 4 entries, even ran them by some friends…even bought a domain name. Time to get unstuck.

  • Marsha White Melkonian

    Thanks for encouraging me to just write. I will follow thru on the 31 commitment.

  • Tiffany Tharpe

    I am committing to the challenge. Praying for God’s grace, guidance, and words.

  • ruthie denise

    This is what I needed. A kick in the pants to get me started.

  • Mecyll J.

    Count me in, Jeff!

  • http://sales360.net/ Chris Johnston

    Count me in. I write every day as part of my job. I’m an SEO strategist and copywriter at an ad agency, but I hate it. The topics I have to write about are boring and I want to write about things I’m passionate about.

  • findingenvirons

    Your opportunity to be, I would say, “task force,” is superb!

  • http://manualoflife.com/ Voni Pottle

    I started doing this… then became lax. Signing up here for the accountability

  • http://www.momsforyou.wordpress.com Sgoo

    I’m in

  • Eric Tsang

    I’m in.

  • Nat Raj

    Gonna do this.

  • RpsDeepan

    I’m in too

  • Sathyanand S

    Thank you Jeff.. After quite an amount of pondering and reminiscing I finally took the plunge to comment ‘I’m in too’ in this post. Quoting a friend of mine who said, ‘Writing is life lived twice’.. I am going to stick to this – this time! Thanks again.

  • KatM.

    This is awesome. I’m in :)

  • Joseph Nieves

    I’m in!

  • Emilie Bennett Quisenberry

    I’m in :)

  • http://www.mathoniusspeaks.com/ Matt Kenyon

    I’m in.

  • Elizabeth Schuetz

    I’m in.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/syedirfanajmal/ Syed Irfan Ajmal

    I am in!

  • Trent Childers

    I’m in!

  • Roman St James

    What a fantastic idea – and a great way to keep writing through the holidays! I’m in!

  • Robin

    I’m in!

  • http://livingingraceland.me Debby Hudson

    I’m in!

  • Rob


  • Kyle Shuberg


  • Rachel Del Grosso

    Totally in!

  • sarabamanda

    I was just thinking that I wish I had someplace to prompt writing every day. Voila! Thank you!

  • Linda Broder

    I”m in!

  • http://robynwilliamswriter.blogspot.com.au/ Robyn Williams

    I am totally ‘IN like Flynn’ !!!

    Commencing the challenge Saturday 28 November 2015. Australian Western Standard Time.

    I am confused with all the coding though for the blog widgets. what am I supposed to do with them?? Total tech phobe.

    Thanks Jeff. you rock as always.

  • http://robynwilliamswriter.blogspot.com.au/ Robyn Williams

    Also, how do I join the facebook group? :)