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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  • Wendy

    I got this

  • Archana Sarat

    I’m in.

  • Pia Juhl Jessen

    I’m in.

  • JJ Tingbo

    i’m in!

  • Bartholomew Bochenski

    Mr. Goins I’m totally motivated, excitement pouring out of my soul to be part of this challenge. Also, I would like to mention that I’m reading one of your books and “talk about inspiration” second to none…

  • Ana

    I’m in, blogging about my progress at http://www.veniae.wordpress.com. Happy new year and thanks for coming up with this lovely challenge!

  • Cecly Ann Mitchell

    I’m in, I’ll write about things Caribbean and historical and work on my novels in the downtime.

  • Sheri Fredricks

    *Gulp!* I’m in. I’m in the middle of my 4th novel, which is the first of a 5-book series. I need this. Thanks, Jeff.

  • S Moser

    I guess I’m in!

  • Trevor Pacelli

    I’m in! I have ambitions of someday being a screenwriter and/or a movie critic, so I think that this should steer me into the right direction.

  • Lisa

    I’m in!

  • LoveAthenaa

    I’m in!

  • tim

    Why does this feel so scary? Okay, fine, I”m in too. I’m scared AND I’m in!

  • Megan Hatch

    I’m in!

  • http://wannafly2015.wordpress.com/ Randy Wu

    I’m in too!

  • ClaudiaSW

    I’m in!

  • stephanie126

    I’m in! I will write about anything other than my fear of pursuing writing.

  • B Samuel Mace

    Yep. Here we go!

  • Luna Merrigold

    I’m in…. I guess…. I’m scared…

  • http://www.awaitingthemuse.wordpress.com Effy J. Roan

    “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” ~ Lao Tzu

    Count me in. :)

  • Ashleigh Jones

    I’m in!

  • Pamela Taeuffer

    I’m in

  • Ayush

    I’m in!

  • Matt

    Let’s get it started!

  • Wendy

    I’m in!

  • Don

    I’m in

  • Al

    I’m in

  • Daniela Uslan

    I’m in!

  • http://parisnjones.tumblr.com/ Paris N. Jones

    I’m in!

  • Cindra @lifewithafarmer

    I’m in! (again)

  • http://www.rivercityonlinedesign.com John Seitz

    I’m in.

  • Justin

    I’ve joined.

  • SD Jones

    I am in.

  • http://treasuresinthedust.com Merri Lewis

    Signed up! I’ll be writing to new parents of kids with autism! And, the sensory experience for some variety :)

  • Margaret K

    I’m in! :)

  • Karen Pickles

    I’m in…

  • precious jem

    Yey! This is a great and exciting challenge! ;)

  • http://sabrinajr.com/ Sabrina

    I’m in. Looking forward to the motivation to write and improve the flow of words.

  • http://graceunending.net/ Patty Romack

    I’m in! I’m scared, but I’m in!

  • Richard Darnell

    All IN I am really inspiring thought and blog

  • JG

    for some reason I am not getting the writing assignments anymore. I’m on day 16. Someone please send me day 17, 18, 19 until I hear from Jeff Goins. Thank you!!! jokogil@aol.com

  • CM

    In! The idea of publishing “unedited” posts on my blog scares me half to death (biiiit of a perfectionist streak), but, as my blog has been at 3 posts for the last 6 monhts, it’s not like it’s going to do any damage!

  • Paula

    I’m in. And so excited. It’s taken me a while to decide it… I had the page open for days before finally taking the plunge. Oh, so nervous too!

  • Rosemary

    I just hopped on the bandwagon! Thank you for the invitation.

  • Melissa Burgess Jowett

    I am excited and very nervous.

  • Matthew Willms

    If a 14 year old boy can do this,(ahem, me) then everybody should do this! I’m in!

  • BrendaR-C

    I’m in!

  • KatieS

    Ok, I’m in.

  • RH

    I’m in.

  • CMore

    I’m in

  • andystitt829

    I’m totally in. I just finished the Your Turn Challenge, inspired by Seth Godin’s new book, where we shipped for seven days. I’m more than happy to commit to writing 500 words for another 31!

  • KW


  • Christine Fichter

    I’m in!

  • Bonnie

    Let’s do this.

  • Sarita Bradley-Gibson

    I’m in

  • Kiki Stamatiou

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I’m happy to be here, and look forward to getting started.

  • http://thelearningdude.com/ The Learning Dude

    We are the tribe. Thanks for leading the movement, Jeff.

  • http://www.4cornersseasia.com Scott Groethe

    I will try

  • http://www.wholereason.com Daniel G. Sinclair

    Going to blog daily in feburary at wholereason.com

  • Freckles Aarden

    I’m in

  • http://PaulaSJordan.com Paula S. Jordan

    I’m in. I have a first draft staggering on toward the third. Time to get it done!

  • damilolaniyi

    Ahem! You were talking about me when you mentioned NaNoWriMo *covers face* Anyway, I’m taking up this challenge and I hope I make it this time around. I have a working title already: 61 Girls College Avenue. I’m so IN!

  • http://www.michaelfarleymusic.com Michael Farley

    All in! Great to have a ‘family’ of aspiring writers, and pros that keep one accountable and to task. Here we go -

  • http://sopheapseven.com sopheap dam
  • Krista Ahearn


  • http://www.dishesanddustbunnies.com Michelle

    This is great! Will start this on Monday! :)

  • Tamra Curtis

    I’m IN

  • https://emelinebeltran.wordpress.com/ Emeline B

    I’m in!

  • Kathleen Tozier

    Perfect timing to discover this to assuage my recent doubts!

  • Denise Files

    I’m in~

  • http://www.lauramariescoggins.com Laura Marie Scoggins

    I’m in!

  • Wayne Brown

    Absolutey in!

  • Kym Kettler-Paddock

    I’m in!

  • Melissa
  • TaQuanda

    A little excited and a little nervous

  • http://active4him.com/ Jamie

    Looking forward to the fun!

  • http://andrewadames.com Ay Thryce.

    I am in with this challenge!

  • Mariah Strohmeyer

    We all have to start somewhere, and if I’m to get anywhere I have to start. I’m in.

  • http://www.rashedlightsways.com Omar L. Rashed

    “The world belongs to those who Stand Up Right. Now.” I’m taking my step on this challenge. I’m in!!

  • http://ambicia.ge Giorgi

    I am in! My blog is: http://ambicia.ge/ I write in Georgian language!

  • sherry

    I’m in…I Will be writing about a project that my 9 year old grandson came up with for a homework assignment.

  • https://lovesexandemotions.wordpress.com/ Jennifer

    I’m in!

  • Pixie

    Challenge accepted! In!

  • Jersey Cow

    I’m in!

  • Kato

    I’m in. I’m setting my alarm for 5:30 AM tomorrow.

  • Chuck Clark

    Well, all I can say is that I’m going to try.

  • Kimberly Ds

    I’m In. Lets see how long i can keep up! :)

  • http://www.attentionanonymous.wordpress.com Ruth Cassell-Huynh

    I’ve watched from afar for long enough…I want to give it a try for myself. I even blogged about my intention https://attentionanonymous.wordpress.com/2015/02/21/writing-for-me-eventually-2/ :)

  • Gwen Hannan Meharg

    I can do this. If a picture is worth a thousand words, can I count some of my paintings towards the 500 words on days when I put in 10-12 hours of painting? I can write when I can’t paint but when I have a window to put paint on canvas that takes priority. Any exceptions?

  • Amy

    I’m in. Let’s see!

  • Sean Tan

    I’m in!


    I’m in!

  • Vicki

    Count me in!

  • Laura

    Great challenge! Very happy to be here and complete my 31 days of focusing on writing.

  • Skye Cascadea

    ok, I did it. I’m very excited but I’m also a bit scared of it as life is so busy. Right moment to get started. :)

  • Lynn Heritage

    I’m in!

  • Krystofer Ceryn

    I’d like to do this

  • Kandice Jo Render

    I’m in

  • http://kibou-no-hikari.blogspot.com/ Kibou Hikari

    Count me in. I scared that I can’t do this but I will try the best for the next 31 days