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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  • Vladislav Loginov

    great challenge – definitely IN

  • sanjidas

    In! In shaa Allah.

  • JocelynRMendez

    I’m in.

  • alex

    I am really excited to join the 500 word writing challenge!!

  • hollyrere

    Starting late but I’m in.

  • http://www.ontimemarketing.com.au Derek

    Great, thanks Jeff. This is exactly what I need to do. Had way too many “I really should do this BOOK thing” moments. It’s time to make it a reality.

  • http://www.edgeonstrategy.com/ Sam Edge

    Wow 1,337 comments! I’m just jumping into this. I’ve been stuck for a while with my writing and this is just what the doctor ordered. I’m a little late joining but I’ll just go from today for 31. Excited! I have question. Do we publish our 500 words on our blog? or just write and then publish the best to our blog? I’m heading over to Facebook to sign up there also. This is great Jeff thanks.

  • Maria Del Mar Losada

    What better time than the present? I’m in!!

  • Tanya Gardiner

    Just the motivation I need. Thanks

  • tina hunt

    I’m in! I want to be a part of 500-4-31.

  • http://www.enwongoettang.com/ Enwongo Ettang

    Wow. Okay. I am in… 500 words a day for 31 days. Let’s get started

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins


  • Barbara v

    I’m in!

  • Angelique

    So I am in. Procrastination is a b*tch. Hopefully this will help

  • Tyler Carraway

    I’m in, with today as the starting date.

    P.S. – Wow, you’re really getting consistent traffic on this page of your website!

  • Jean Chua

    Am in, I guess! *gulp*

  • Chautona

    Just found the email in my inbox about this. I’m doing it. As if I have time. I write thousands of words a day, but I like the idea of stretching myself

  • Maja

    I´m in! I have already written 11.000 words in a week, so I have a good headstart :)

  • http://consciouscareerist.com Cecilia Bratt

    I’m in!! :)

  • Guest

    Day 2! Woohoo!

  • Moahana Leone

    Day 2! Woohoo!

  • http://rumeysaatas.com Rumeysa

    Hi Jeff, just discovered your blog. I’m in too!

  • BarbB

    I’m in!

  • suemenow


  • Alexis

    I’m in!

  • http://www.ConnXN.net Peter M. Beaumont

    I’m IN!

  • http://nondum.org Tonya Smith

    Thanks for doing this! I’m in.

  • Andrea K

    Count me in! =)

  • http://thenonhiphippies.org/ Alexia Martha Symvoulidou

    IN :)

  • Julia Abernathy Hodson

    I’m in.

  • Leo Reyman

    I’m IN!

  • Gregory Nickerson

    I AM IN.

  • Lita Banal

    I need this challenge. I am in

  • Liz Ewings

    I’m in.

  • Maya Elious

    I’m in.

  • Elizeth Labega

    Bring it on! I’m in!

  • P. Shay

    Hi Jeff! I’ve signed up for NaNoWriMo. Thanks for organizing this challenge. :)

  • otk

    Yeah, I’m finally going to get this done. I’m all in!

  • Veronica Gilkes

    Hi I have just joined your 31 day challenge to write 500 words a day for the next 31 days, hopefully I will keep it going after that, and actually get some work done and sold. I have tried to join your facebook group but it says it’s a closed group. Is there any way I can join please, I would like some encouragement to keep me going and to join in with everyone else writing is a lonely careea. Thank you for letting me do this challenge now where do I start.
    Veronica Gilkes.

  • Jerry

    Let’s do this. Day 1.

  • Kat Matina

    Im in!

  • Art Good

    I’m in…. starting today!

  • Catherine

    I’m in – started yesterday.

  • Melissa

    I am in. Wrote 500 words on commitment!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins


  • Guest

    Not completely sure what I will write about but I’m in!

  • manasa

    I’m in!

  • Kaylee

    I’m definitely in. I’ve been reading, dreaming, and thinking of writing for over a year now. This is exactly what I need to get started. Looking forward to the journey! :)

  • http://www.sobernation.com Tim

    yeah I’m in. Been a writer my whole life I think this sounds like a cool way to meet with other people.

  • Amy E Patton

    I have been reading about My 500 Words for well over a year. I thought it wasn’t for me. I didn’t need 500 words. I can so write more than that in a day. You know what? Some days I did. Some days isn’t every day though. And every day is what I need to finish the project I started over 2 years ago. So, here goes, Jeff, I am in! All in! For the next 31 days I’m writing 500 words every single day. Then after that… I’m going to keep on writing. Thanks for being a continual inspiration, motivator, teacher, and at times “annoying” voice reminding me that I’m not better than small, tangible goals.

  • Andy M

    I’m committed! Bring. It. On. :-)

  • Krysta Belliston

    Committed! This is something I wanted to do on my own already, and finding a group to which to get encouragement and motivation from is just excellent. I’m in!

  • Lynne Bryant, CS

    I’m in! Just finished 500+ words and it feels great! That wasn’t so bad. =)

  • Niki

    I’m in! I can’t wait to get started. Thank you for this opportunity: )

  • Cookie

    I’m in! This is the best advice I have found yet. I have a system/schedule from homeschooling nine children to running a company with a few hundred employees. Why didn’t I never think about it for my writing! Thank you so much for shining a little little on my path.

  • Cookie

    I will definitely use this.

  • danamate

    I. Am. In.

  • Christi Griffel Mancha

    I’m in, but I’m a little confused and a little frustrated. I super NOT tech savvy. Even a little. Lift is an enigma as is getting the writing prompts…

  • Madi

    I’m in!

  • Vic


  • Terry Gardiner

    I am in!

  • BWillie

    I’m in like Donkey Kong! Wait…

  • Tammy_Skipper

    I am in, I have been wanting to share our story about moving from being an active duty family to military retirement. I feel even though we knew so much, we were still so unprepared. Hoping my story will help others.

  • Rosann Cunningham

    I’m jumping in on this challenge as well. I’ve struggled to write regularly this year because of some health problems, but I love to write and desperately need to regain focus. I’m not 100% sure what I’ll be writing about yet. I’ve been wanting to write and publish another eBook so perhaps this challenge will inspire a topic. :)

  • http://joyfulmothering.net/ Christin

    Jumping in as the new year is approaching. I would love to have a new habit set by January 1st. :) Thanks Jeff. You inspire me. Always have. :)

  • Charles Leech

    I think, therefore I am in.

  • Wells Thomas

    I love this! Thank you for sharing all this wonderfully inspiring (and action-oriented) information!

  • http://theodsseyonline.com/author/caitlin-owen Caitlin Owen

    God knows how much I need this. I’m in, finally!

  • Miya Pamutan

    I’m In :D

  • Jade

    You got me hooked. I’m in!

  • monishah

    I am in .

  • rose

    I am in.

  • LongshotLink

    I’m in.

  • Sarah Muller

    IN. :)

  • Murray McEwing

    I did this for 31 days and then got stuck. I thought I could do it with minimal accountability so I am trying again. PS. procrastination is difficult to overcome.