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.

The Secret to Developing a Regular Writing Habit

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.

Click here to sign up!

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.” Feel free to include a link to your blog.
  2. Write every day, and record your progress.
  3. Join the Facebook group for extra accountability and encouragement. You can also follow along via Twitter with the hash tag #my500words.
  4. Sign up for the free challenge to get writing prompts and nudges sent to you via email. Just click here to sign up.

So… are you in for this free writing challenge? Share what you’ll be writing and where you’ll be writing 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.

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  • Ellen

    I’m in! My blog can be found here… https://southernmagnoliaphotographyllc.wordpress.com

  • Kenneth Knudson
  • OlafKhalifa

    I’m in.

  • Patrick Merrick

    I’m in. Writing short horror stories.

  • Lissette Vazquez
  • Luz Rios
  • Kendall Rumsey
  • I’m in!

  • Doaa Negm

    I’m in, however, I will write in arabic!

  • Kashiefa Du Toit
  • Cara Lembo

    When is it too much? If you want to finish the book/novel/project it is always necessary to tell others in your life “you are working”. Perhaps if they wrote rather than punching a clock, they would understand, but they do not. So forgive them, and turn off your notifications everywhere in order to focus.

  • Linda Johnston

    I’m in. I know it is January 7, however, it’s never too late to begin. LJ

  • John

    Am in

  • Jonathan Wedge

    I’m in. NaNoWriMo didn’t go so well. Maybe I was over thinking it. So I’m going to just try to write 500 words each day and see where it gets me.

  • Komposed

    I’m in! I struggle with ongoing creative blocks so I think this small daily habit will make big changes 🙂

  • Doug

    I’m in. I’ve been blogging for about 16 months and I’ve sort of hit a wall. Here’s my blog: http://www.giffinlife.com

  • Allen Paul

    I’m in. 500 words a day has always been my goal, but now that I’m re-launching my second blog, it’s really important that I remain consistent. My blogs are http://AllenCPaul.com and http://GodandGigs.com. I’m looking forward to connecting with more creatives and writers!

  • I’m in! I share stories at http://www.tamaretter.com and I’m working on a book proposal. Looking forward to this daily challenge to develop a habit of writing every day!

  • odelia

    I’m in!!

  • odelia

    I’m IN!!!

  • Amy Whitney

    I’m in! My current writing is at http://www.smallgardennews.com/blog/ .

    • Quirky Queenslander

      I love your blog! I have subscribed. Thanks 😉

      • Amy Whitney

        Thank you! I stopped by to look at yours, too. Your mission statement – sharing your own life stories to help people know that they are not alone – is awesome. Looking forward to reading more!

  • Kristina Shaffer

    Count me in…need a good challenge to get back to the habit of writing! http://www.liveradiantlove.com

  • Jeff Meister

    Hey Jeff, I’m in!

  • Abiola Olaleye

    I’m in!

    I have not posted on my blog in months out of frustration but I am going to start again today.


  • Deffman777

    I’m in! mattdeffner.wordpress.com (maybe this year is the year I go self-hosted!)

  • Sharman

    I’m in!

  • Donna Figel

    I’m in

  • Nancy

    I’m in.

  • Sheena

    I’m in

  • RbGames

    I’m in

  • Carmen

    I’m in

  • Cynthia Field

    I’m in & ready for the challenge!

  • Anneke Bronkhorst

    I’m in!

  • Alan Walker

    I’m in!

  • Michelle Bradley Newbold

    I’m in!!! intentionalarrows.com

  • Joanna Barajas

    I’m in!!

  • Donna Smith McGuinness

    I’m in Jeff! I was in a couple of years ago but tragically I allowed personal things in my life to take over. For those that have been challenged or pushed a bit, don’t give up! I did, and I have regretted writing on a daily basis since then. Sorry didn’t mean to say this but it’s important to write & be the best writer that you can be!

  • Amina

    I am in

  • Libby
  • Barry Lunseth

    I’m in. I have wanted to write a book since 2010. I wrote a couple of pages in 2010 and then let life get in the way. I have started again and think a lot of what and how to say things that are in my head. I just need a daily push.

    • snapshoot

      Good to see you back at it.

  • snapshoot

    I’m in. So, this is the year i get the book wrote. yep, this year.

  • Lauren Osborne
  • Paula Warner

    I’m in.

  • Elissa Hoffert
  • Denise Gibbons

    I’m In

  • Grace

    I’m in.

  • Rosaline Callaghan
  • anisha nandwani

    i am in.

  • Emilie Bromet-Bauer

    I’m in.

  • Interestedlayperson

    Sorry, I’m working.

  • Marlane Mazur

    I am back in. I had taken a break late fall from my book and now I am looking at it with renewed zest so I need this group. Thanks to them, I completed my first inspirational book 101BLESSINGS Now I’m on the 2nd: COME SOFTLY MY SUMMER RAIN, 101 Promises. So happy to be joining again! Marlane

  • snapshoot

    Today was my first day at the challenge. It felt good,really good to sit down and get back to work. I have a 123 pg screen play to somehow turn into a book. this is not my screen play but one given to me. So,550 today. I’m excited for tomorrow.

  • Amy Betters-Midtvedt

    I’m in! Hidingintheclosetwithcoffee.com

  • Quirky Queenslander

    Yes, yes, yes … I AM IN!!! Thank You Jeff and Thank You for all the different tools you have offered so far, this sounds like a wonderful wonderful challenge for both me and my blog http://www.beachbushbeyond.com

    I am a 47 year old female with a messy bun, I am a wife, a mother of a 25 year old son, I am Australian and I caught the writing bug just 10 months ago. Less than one month ago I launch my brand new website (blog) called “Beach Bush & Beyond” and this 31 Day Writing Challenge might just be exactly what I need to ensure that I keep the creative juices flowing.

    I am a shift worker and I work full-time, so dedicating a particular time slot for writing is difficult, but my intention is to set aside a minimum of one hour each day before work. I like to write on my laptop because I can sit outside and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine.

    I like to write about real stuff, my life, my observations and anecdotes. I like to make people think and I like to make them laugh, but most importantly, in our bizarre modern world, I like to make people feel less alone and a little more ‘normal’ at http://www.beachbushbeyond.com

  • Praveena Rao K

    I’m in.

  • Freemh

    Is this concept can be applied for writing technical articles?

  • Anita-Joyce Barnes

    I am in!

  • Karen Spanyer

    I’m in!

  • Adrian

    I’m in!

  • Quirky Queenslander

    Today I was brave enough to post My 500 Words Day 3 story without further editing. That will not last, I will have to edit it, but for now it is still raw. You can read it here … http://www.beachbushbeyond.com./wallaby-wrangle/ 😉

  • Lisa Gonzalez

    3rd day writing 500 words. Feels great! I’m kind of using it as a journal. Glad I joined the fun.

  • Chelsea

    I’m in! Doing my best to not worry about all the other details of writing online (setting up a blog, a website, refining my topics, etc.) and realizing the value of just doing it.

  • Suzanne

    I’m in.