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.

It’s Not Too Late to Become a Writer

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In this book, I share everything I’ve learned bout what it takes to start writing for a living — and how you can get started today.

Click here to download the free book now.

  • Jonathan Schraffenberger

    I’m in as well! I’m super busy, but 500 words should be doable. Shouldn’t it? LOL

  • Priya Nagesh

    I am in! Yet another experiment to see if I can cultivate the discipline.

  • Dominique Hall

    Starting today!

  • kelleypen

    I’m in.

  • Legally Sparkly

    Giving this a go!

  • I’m in!

  • Katie

    I’m in! Thanks to @Jtothelove:disqus for the encouragement! 😉

  • Katherine Kent

    Starting today 🙂

  • flaviacras

    I’m in!

  • jb

    i’m in

  • Anne Chan

    I’m in!

  • I’m in 🙂

  • Hannah Zeno

    I’m in!

  • Diana Ghiurcuta

    I’m definitely in!!

  • Michelle Lee

    I’m in! I’m going to crush this writing goal by making a daily habit!

  • Ana

    Hi there! I am just starting blogging this is my link: https://anakosorio.wordpress.com/

  • Viridini

    Starting tomorrow, it’s 500/day.

  • Michelle Turner

    I’m IN!

  • I’m in!

  • Okay, Jeff, you got me. I’m in.

  • JenW

    I’m definitely in!

  • Jeff, this is brilliant and I’m starting today, as in right this moment.

  • Tineke Baas

    Here we go! Looking forward!

  • Kelly B D

    I’m in! I need the accountability.

  • xstorydreamerx

    Ready or not, I’m in …

  • WinterGem

    I’m in!

  • Jason

    I’m in, thanks

  • Fabiola Rodriguez Licona

    I am in! 🙂

  • Duckworth

    The link for “My 500 Words, a free 31-day writing challenge.” listed under RESOURCES wrongly points to http://www.amazon.com/dp/0060919884/?tag=goiwri-20

  • Sam Danquah

    I am in

  • Jori

    I’m in!

  • Paula Brazzell


  • The Tarot Backpacker

    I’m in

  • Black Jewelz

    I’m in

  • joakim

    I’m in

  • Mark Ray

    Doing this!

  • mary choo

    This course has so many great resources but my priority at the moment is to write daily. I have a list of ideas for blog posts and keep getting distracted from writing them . This challenge is just what I need . Thank you Jeff

  • I’m in!

  • Dibakar Bala

    I’m in ! Here’s link to my blog: http://dibakarbala.com

  • Katie Kephart

    I’m in

  • Jules Paul
  • Signed up and on day 2, so far exceeding 500 words. Next week, my goal is to edit to make sure the writing is tighter and the posts closer to 500 words.
    Food & Fitness http://www.bombchel.com
    Marketing Pro Tips and Learning to Code http://www.cherylmarquez.com

  • JW Goble

    orangecactuscoffee.com 31 days left in 2016.