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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  • Chase G

    Mos def.

  • Nicole

    I’m in let’s do this

  • GrittyLittleInk

    I’m definitely excited and inspired by this writing challenge. Hoping that it proves to be just what I need to further me along my journey.

  • Darcie Stormageddon DarkLordof

    I’m in! Let’s see if we can kick this depression aside for a bit and let myself enjoy writing once again!

  • KatyL

    I’m in.

  • http://stuartwillsblog.com/ Stuart Wills

    I’m in too. From New Zealand and my blog is simply: http://stuartwillsblog.com/
    Looking forward to seeing where this leads…

  • Debra

    Signed up and look forward to the challenge despite my hesitation, fear and other mixed emotions. I shall keep the faith and ask for lots of prayer that I see the challenge to the end! https://papasfrog.wordpress.com

  • http://timelesschat.blogspot.com Angela A

    I’m in let’s see what my creative mind can create..

  • suzanne bowditch

    I’m in….looking forward to the challenge

  • theamarie

    I’m in. Looking forward to getting my writing life on the right track

  • Kylynn

    I love to write and I’m trying to incorporate my passions of life into my daily routine. I’m so in!

  • fiona_ballantyne

    I’m in too! Brand new experience I’m apprehensively looking forward to :)

  • Rainwater

    I’m in and I’m excited!!

  • Elan Joel Isenberg

    I’m in! Today is a great day to get ever more serious about writing. Let’s do this!

  • Stephanie Dwyer Fortney

    I am a writer and holding myself accountable. I am definitely in.

  • Jen

    I’m in!

  • Deirdre

    I’m in! Even though I have no idea what I’m writing about…

  • Natasha Cai

    I’m in!

  • Suzanne Larsen-Wall

    I’m in! I have no clue as to what I’m writing about. Yet.

  • http://stuartwillsblog.com/ Stuart Wills

    Day two … as a mortgage broker from New Zealand I have dreamed of writing a book to help people understand debt, the consequences and to pay off debt sooner. This challenge will help me write my content and i “hope” that people here will be able to provide comments, ideas and questions that will develop and enhance what I write about and how I write.

    My 1st post: http://stuartwillsblog.com/draw-a-line-in-the-sand-and-lets-get-started/

    Today’s post: http://stuartwillsblog.com/understand-the-purpose-of-a-home-loan/

    Please share those comments, ideas and questions.

  • http://readingandwritingtips.com/ Eileen M

    I’m in! Let’s do this!

  • Ann Elizabeth Bailey

    I am in. this is amazing.

  • Deepthi

    i am in …this is a good idea for improving writing habbits..

  • Heather E. Kimmick

    I’m in. *^_^* <3

  • Ria Majumdar

    I am in. *Takes off Helmet of Procrastination*

  • http://robligatory.com Robert Dodds

    I’m doing this.

  • http://jdvorak.postach.io Dr. Jim Dvorak

    Ok, Jeff, I’m going to do this again. Last time was fun and good for me. Thanks for the opportunity.

  • Annina

    I will do this in writing the 500 words each day on my thesis ;)

  • Lola

    I’m in!! 1month to finish my novel’s draft (in spanish)

  • Susie

    I’m in. I’ve been looking for a place of accountability and a way to jut put the time in with writing. I stopped teaching high school English to focus on writing and I am struggling to not prioritize other (good) things over writing. Thanks for the structured plan!

  • Gabriel Pastrana

    I’m in too!

  • Allison Monroe
  • Mike

    I’m in!

  • Sylvia Foxworth

    I’m doing this!

  • Tamera Briggs Parker

    I am in … I have been putting this off for WAY to long.

  • Lily F.

    I am in I have been wanting to do this for awhile now I ahave some time I think I can do it!!!

  • http://marketingwithsergio.com/ Sergio Félix

    Should I use my marketing blog or my personal “anything goes” blog? Either way, I’m in!

    • http://rodgomes.com/ Rod Gomes

      Guess who inspired me once again? hahaha

      I’m in!

      Oh, I’d suggest your personal blog. So you don’t limit the topics you can/may write about.

      Cheers! :)

      • http://marketingwithsergio.com/ Sergio Félix

        Hey Rod, love it brother, looking forward to see your writing if you decide to make them public of course! ;-)

        • http://rodgomes.com/ Rod Gomes

          Same! I plan on sharing. The only reason I won’t share, is if it’s way too bad. :) First one coming up tomorrow.

          • http://marketingwithsergio.com/ Sergio Félix

            Gotcha! ;-)

  • Juan Aga Trinidad

    I am in! I hope this would really help.

  • http://rodgomes.com/ Rod Gomes

    I’m in! This will definitely be a challenge, a fun one.

  • Elanee Smythe

    I’m starting this challenge! Looking forward to great results! I haven’t written on my blog consistently for several weeks, so I’m eager to see what happens as a result of this.

  • Teya

    I’ve actually been doing this challenge since I started reading the book, well even before but I’m excited to continue with an accountability partner, or group rather. LOL So excited! Just took me a while to find this.

  • Nemon

    Im in

  • Samantha

    I’m in!

  • http://www.diamondtravelglobal.info Lady Cee Cee

    I’m in!

  • http://www.crownofgloryministries.org Laura Diehl

    I’m in….it is definitely a commitment, and there always seems to be reasons to keep me from it. But it is time to get serious and see myself the way others see me – a person with something valuable to offer. People have been telling me for a long time I should be writing. Time to stop reading and studying about it and start doing it!

  • http://confessionsofaplatinumblondemom.blogspot.com/ OhPlatinumOne

    I’m in…. A little nervous/scared… but IN!

  • cyanideenid

    I’m a copywriter so I often write between 1000 and 2500 words a day anyway of copy for clients. But I feel sorely remiss that I don’t get to do much creative writing for me. So, instead of copping out and counting the client work, I’m going to do an additional 500 words a day for the 31 days (and hopefully beyond) so I can work on my short story, and hopefully my novel!

  • Ebony Teague

    I just squashed procrastination again. I’m in!!

  • Alexandra Barbu

    I’m in! Let the journey begin :)

  • Jan Richards

    I’ve been doing Julia Cameron-inspired morning pages for years, but want and need to get back to writing blog posts, and will use the My 500 Words challenge just for that. Also, a new website calls and it needs copy…which means words, words, words!…too. Thanks for the challenge and it’s good to meet all of you here.

  • http://www.phillwess.com/ Phill Wess

    I’m in! This should be fun :)

  • Kelli Bones

    Going to rock this for 31 days!

  • Jessica Cardinal Heeg

    I’m in. Don’t know what I’ll be writing about, because I’ve set aside noveling for editing previous novels. So I guess I’ll be writing in my blog! (Which I’m not so hot at).

  • https://tastetheadventure.wordpress.com Jeremy Payne

    Let’s do this! I’ve committed to my blog and have lots to say.

  • Shals

    I’m in. It’s time I set procrastination aside long enough to actually write :)

  • Alexus Chantelle

    I’m in

  • Mickey Torrcache


  • http://zhiroug.com/ Zhirou Gao

    This is a great idea! I’m in!

  • Cindy Méndez Mooney

    Today is day two… I’m excited :)

  • Kathy Rouser

    Just started today. Want to get back on track!

  • Brian Talbot

    Christopher Hitchins said if you have words to say you have words to write. I have many words to say and do so every week. I need a challenge to get them onto paper so other people can see them. I am in.

  • Andy

    I’m in! I will be writing a series of parables based on internal dialogue with a travel writer/photographer about life’s most pressing questions while describing the beauty of different cultures and how simplicity, love and community is true happiness!

  • Samantha Wiens Stambaugh

    I’m in! I need to start writing again, and I’m so glad to have prompts and cheerleaders. Let’s hope it works!

  • pattyloof

    I’m in! I have lots to write about :D

  • Stephen Wertzbaugher

    I’m in. Although I currently write daily morning pages, per Julia Cameron and the Artist’s Way, I feel obliged to add this to my routine as another way to kickstart the whole creative process. I’m looking forward to it.

  • Taylor
  • Val in MN

    I’m in! 500 words is doable.

  • Ariel

    I’m in! Nervous, but in!

  • crjensen57

    I’m in. Never written for pleasure. Looking forward to it.

  • Cassandra Patrovani

    Here we go . . .I’m IN!!

  • scone

    I’m in! Thank you, Jeff ☺

  • http://www.ian-hall-it-training.com.au/ Ian Hall

    Thanks I will start the challenge tomorrow 500 words on my blog

  • Monica Brewster Dillard

    Just happened upon this challenge poking around Jeff’s page. I purchased the Art of Work (anxiously awaiting it:)) though had also been toying with the idea of incorporating a blog as part of the new business I’m launching. I’m also nervous but ready to give this a try! :)

  • MNeeley7

    I am IN! Looking forward to connecting with like-minded folks.

  • annette

    Looking forward to taking on the challenge.

  • https://adriannawebsterwritten.wordpress.com/my-500-words/ Adrianna
  • Kaye Crady

    Joining the challenge

  • Karen

    I’m in

  • Andy

    i’m in… hope it helps…

  • Rachel

    I’m in!

  • Larry Fishman

    I’m in

  • http://tonywoodall.com Tony Woodall

    I’m in. I am behind in my blogging while I’ve been getting my podcast up and running. I write as Product Manager at work, and on corp social site. Let’s see if I can add up to 500 words.

  • http://www.divorcingnapoleon.com Kate Greene


  • Nettie

    I’m in!

  • Michelle

    I’m in! (Bites nails and wonders whether this really is do-able.) But I’m in! Really, I am!

  • Stephen Tallon

    I want to give it a try!

  • Dave Jones

    I’m in! Thank you for offering this challange and encouragement!

  • Liz


  • http://www.simongranner.com/itunes Simon Granner

    I’m in. Let’s do this.

  • Lisa Simmonds

    I’m in!!

  • Casey J McClure

    I’m in!

  • Tom

    I’m in

  • Taryn

    Thanks so much for this – it’s a wondrous and awesome happening thing. I need it. I’m in!

  • http://alanstoddard.com Alan Stoddard

    I’m in.

  • T Lee Peerman

    Everyone needs a starting place; this is mine. I’m in. Thanks!

  • http://www.eieiolsonfamily.blogspot.com/ Sharon Whitworth Olson

    Ah process!! I love it in theory, but I gravitate toward the EVENT! That whole instant gratification thing. (Written as my husband sets a cup of coffee next to my laptop, delivered with his signature smile and wink… ah, yes! That comfy, cozy space of being catered to, entertained, served. Oi.) So here I am, wanting to break out of consumer mode and be a contributor instead. To step into the process. Embrace messy. Thank you for inviting me in, Jeff!

  • rmravon

    I’m in! I found this at the perfect time as I am re-starting my blog. Oh for the daily discipline of writing. Thank you Jeff for your vision, it;s moving us all forward. I am looking forward to learning, connecting and growing in all this and with all these great folk in this tribe. Come visit my blog at http://desperateformoreofhim.com Blessings, Robin

  • Maria

    I’m so in! I’m writing a book before my 31st birthday in August. I’m doing it.