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 help people tell better stories and make a difference in the world. My family and I live outside of Nashville, TN. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Google Plus. To get updates and free stuff, join my newsletter.

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  • http://www.perronservices.com Michelle Perron

    Okay, Jeff, I’m really IN this time. I started the challenge with you in January, but did not make after just a few days. This time I am serious. Thanks for the fantastic webinar yesterday that provided tools, tips and encouragement.
    Yes. I am a Platform University member and enjoyed your Master Class.
    Let’s do this everyone.

  • http://hemadememark.wordpress.com/author/hemadememark/ Mark Adrian Jayobo

    I’m in! and will be doing this along side my daily bible devotion

  • Heather Bixler

    I’m in!

  • http://www.dennisjsmith.com/ Dennis J. Smith

    Wish I would have seen this back in January. Looks like it started on my birthday. But better later than never. Great idea Jeff!

    Means I should have my 2nd book ready by later this fall. Here’s to success!

  • http://khmerbird.com/ Santel Phin

    Let’s see if I can make it. I can feel I come so close! I’m in!

  • trishsanders

    It’s time!

  • Nadeem

    I’m in

  • † Schemel (Shemmy) ♥

    I’m in.

  • 72ali

    I can do this! Maybe… Well, it’s worth a try. :)

  • Lelaina

    I’m taking on the challenge!

  • Prophotoguy

    I’m in! I started a 1000 words a day project a few weeks ago. Some days I wrote more and some days I wrote less, but I quickly ran out of steam. After a few days hiatus, I began writing in an outlining app. I found that I can outline endlessly, knowing that no one will read it, and that I can rearrange the material later on. The outline headings easily convert to headers and bullet points. And whole outlines can be imported into Scrivener as project structures.

    Outline Mania is working wonderfully for me, so I am not going to stop. But for this challenge, I will not count the outlines. Nor will I count fleshing out outlines as part of the challenge.

    Instead, I will devote my 500 words daily to recording personal stories and illustrations that will help me add character and personal interest to my writings.

  • http://jacq.tv/ Jacqueline Carly

    I’m in.

  • http://meredithgriffin.com/ Meredith Griffin

    I’m game! The community and accountability will do help me along. Maybe I’ll stick with it this time. 500 words for 31 days…here I come!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins


  • Lita Payne

    I’m in.

  • Mick McKeown

    I’m in. Tired of talking about it. Let’s go!

  • scribblefingers

    let’s get this ball rolling!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins


  • Sharisse

    This is perfect! All day long I think, I dream, I talk. I feel like I have so much to say and realize how nice it would be to share, especially with those who can really relate (or commiserate). How late am I to the challenge? Are you still actively supporting it or it’s for fun and up to us? Thanks!

  • http://www.lindaslostworld.com Linda Wanstreet

    I’m ready – this will be a great way for me to get started on the book I’ve been thinking about.

  • sarah

    I’m in

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins


  • http://plantinggodlyseeds.com/ Ella Halligan

    I am SO in! I made my public declaration yesterday: http://chaosandcritters.com/500-word-challenge-round-1-day-1/

  • Cate Shadder

    I can’t wait to start! I blog but I’m not sharing this on my blog.

  • Art Good

    I’m late to the game, but I’m in. Starting October 1st.

  • Joseph

    40,000 words in, it seems I’ve ran out of juice. After two months of self-loathing, I’m in.

  • Laurel Padilla

    Hi Jeff! I found your site last evening. I must say I was moved. I’ve been writing for years and I mainly write about life. It soothes me and makes me feel complete as a person. I’ve always considered myself to be creative…really, in many areas. I thank God everyday for the blessings I’ve received. Writing to me is letting go and releasing. I do not have a blog. I think I should investigate, but I’ll let you in on a secret…I’m old! I’m afraid it will intimidate me and I’ll start to not like what I like to do best and that is write. I hope that makes sense. Anyway, I’m glad I found your site. I found it to be uplifting and inspiring. Keep doing what you are doing, because the world needs to just let go and be free to express themselves. I know I will never be famous or any of that rubbish, but I do know that someday, somewhere, at sometime, (family and friends more than likely), will sit down and discover the depths of my soul. They will know that my mission in life, how ever hard it may have been, I chose a life of love… to show love and be loved. Have a super blessed day! Write till your hands go numb! That’s what I do!

  • Nancy

    Just found this inspirational site -

  • Lindsay Dixon Garcia

    I’m in!

  • Leo

    I guess this challenge has been running since Jan 1, but I guess it is not too late…

    Sure, I’m in.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Not too late!

  • Dandee

    I’m in

  • Muhammad Al-Waeli

    I’m in

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins


  • OkieWriter

    Hello all – I am joining the group – just signed up a few minutes ago. It looks as tho’ I will have a little company along the way. Cool! I am looking forward to this journey.

  • https://plus.google.com/u/0/108587109771180313338/about Carol Scarlette

    I have until mid October. I’m in. I’ll add my tumblr blog later, if that counts.

  • Howardoo

    I’ll give this a go.

  • Rebecca

    I’m in..

  • Tikka

    I’m in..!

  • http://becoming-me.com/ Heather C Stephens

    Hi Jeff! I really enjoyed meeting you at FinCon and can’t wait to read The In-Between! I’m definitely taking your advice on doing one thing per month that scares me. (Here’s to month 1: Participating in your 31 day challenge!)

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins


  • Vanessa

    hope i’m not too late to get started!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins


  • Tina Porter

    I’m in

  • http://roadtoranching.com Shelli

    I’m in too!

  • http://whatsmyage.wordpress.com Justin Almeida

    I’m in as part of the UU Bloggers workshop.

  • http://rosevaldivia.com Rose Valdivia

    I have a passion in writing but I was too afraid to write for my grammar is not that good to become a writer. But was inspired by Jeff’s video’s and other writings so I decided to accept the 31 day challenge. And It will help me to write effective contents for my upcoming blog. . Thanks Jeff for being an instrument of God to help people like us. . May the good Lord shower you more blessings for your kindness. . :)

  • Baobab

    I had just started writing again a few days before I found this 31 day challenge so I am psyched to have a daily plan. I was inspired by the video , choice of words and spacing as well. I would love suggestions for a blog site . I am writing in Word and would prefer to start a blog.

  • Buck Inspire

    I missed you at FinCon14. I hope you had a blast! Inspired by your articles and am up for the challenge. I want to find my voice, improve my writing, take action, and get out of my comfort zone. Thank you for the opportunity.

  • Ant

    I’m in!

  • http://www.naptimenovelist.com/ Rhonda

    Sign me up!

  • J Comet

    Count me in!
    I’ve been on and off writing but am only useful 2 or 3 days a week, sprinting and spewing more than 1000+ words at one shot then running out of steam for a whole week or so. That’s not very productive and am hoping to change my ‘rhythm’ with this challenge.

  • Kathleen McGregor

    I’m in, now.

  • Megan

    Count me in!! I really need to build this habit… Lately I’ve been feeling dry and I know it’s because I haven’t been writing!

  • http://dancingtoorangesky.tumblr.com Pınar Türer

    I’m in! It’s time I built my blog, and started my novel. It may look too much now, but this challenge will help me, I believe. Thank you Jeff! For helping out so much! :)

  • Kene

    I’m definitely in! Nothing is stopping my writing this time.

  • Laura McKillip Wood

    Can’t wait to get started!

  • brentrinehart

    Excited about starting the 500 Words challenge (finally). Wednesday, Oct. 1 is the official day! What can I say? I like clean starting points, or else 9/29 would be the day. I’ll use today and tomorrow to get my mind right. :)

  • http://www.hollyjanecreative.blogspot.com/ Holly

    In spite of fear and trepidation, I am signing up! I am committing to this process and looking forward to finding the words to get started!

  • http://paularoelands.com Paula Roelands

    I’m in! Needing to find and embrace
    my writing routine….

  • ntathu

    Looking forward to the discipline! Thanks a lot

  • OSH Solutions LLC

    Time to get serious. Thanks for leading the way.

  • Sara Simeral

    Starting the challenge today. Thanks! :)

  • http://www.infusecoaching.com/ Tammy Resler

    Going to try this! It’s going to take some work :-)

  • http://www.wholelifediets.com/ Ana J

    I am in!

  • Mary Jo

    I’m in! Starting 10/1. Been feeling the bubble of creativity under the surface, now to use accountability to actually WRITE!!

  • http://roadwalkermedia.blogspot.com/ David

    I’ve been lazy and fallen out of the habit. Time to get in shape for NaNoWriMo, and after that, working the 4th draft of my novel from last November.

  • Mz Emerson

    I’m in. I will write in my blog as well as work on articles and a book project. Thank you.

  • http://celiackiddo.wordpress.com/ Dana Schwartz

    I’ve been working on my first novel for longer than I care to admit. I’m ready to finish this latest draft, see where it stands, and decide to polish it or start a new project.

    I have plenty of “valid” excuses and I’m tired of hearing them.

    I’m ready to finally do this.

  • Joel

    I’m in. Although most of it won’t be public on my blog. This is just what I needed to get going again.

  • Jen

    I’m in with trepidation.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Still counts! ;)

  • http://fantasyfic.wordpress.com/ Sandra Bell Kirchman

    I’m in. Except for my weekly blog, my writing has crashed to a standstill. Thanks for helping.

  • Ngobesing Romanus

    I am in. I am excited about being part of a community to read my work. Can’t thank you enough Jeff for this to.

  • Theresa W

    Count me in!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins


  • Debra

    I’m in!

  • http://highwayofeternity.blogspot.se/ Daniella Olivaw

    I’m in!

  • Chatterbox

    I’m in!

  • Kiwiama

    I’m in!

  • Denise

    I’m in!

  • Carol Clark

    I’m in…!

  • Di Hooper

    here goes, I’m in!

  • Lori

    I’m in.

  • John

    I want to learn and grow in writing.

  • Krizelle

    I’m in! :)

  • Mel

    I’m in. The start of a new month seems a good time

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins


  • Donna

    I am using the 500 word a day as a warm up for November. My biggest challenge is sitting down to actually write.

  • Terri

    I’m in!

  • Tonya

    I’ve been told I should write…but haven’t done it. Fear…. ;)
    So today I say no to fear and yes to a challenge, I’m in.

  • Thomas Tonkin

    Okay, I’m in too. I write in spurts. A lot, then nothing. 500 words a day for a month should be a great start to consistency. Thank Jeff

  • Taylor Clossin

    I’m going to pledge to write every day for October since it started tomorrow.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins


  • Rachel

    I’m in. Here we go!