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.

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  • i’m in

  • Colin Gordon Smith

    I’m in too, doubleplusskeptical.com

  • I’m in! Planning to write a couple of books so this is absolutely perfect! Thanks Jeff, love your giving spirit!

  • Dennis Turner

    I’m in. Thanks for the opportunity.

  • C.M. Hollerman

    I’m in! Thank you!!!

  • Lothlorien

    I’m a freelance blogger who has been drifting for the last few months; I think this is just what I need to get my head back in the game- thanks for hosting this.

  • Kristi Brown

    Totally in!

  • Heather

    I’m in. heatherhocking.com Though, most of this writing will go toward the book I’m working on.

  • Gabbycosco

    I’m in

  • Mark Condy

    I’m in! I will give it a go! 🙂

  • Kristen

    Thanks for the inspiration! Not sure what I will write yet but looking forward to developing the habit and getting a better sense for word counts 🙂

  • Liz Ng

    I’m in. I started a blog last year at https://thrifttoriches.com , and I’ve been very inconsistent with it even though it has gotten some positive attention. I’m looking forward to the challenge and using some of what I create on my blog. I’d love to do a guest blog post this year as well!

  • Melissa Janecka

    Yep! I’m in. Like to complete the book I started on nano.

  • DrAngel

    I’m in!!! Projects in the works where procrastination and the darn holidays got in the way! But yes! Count me in for sure!~

  • QuaWanna Bannarbie

    I’m in. My blog, Notes and Commentary, http://www.bannarbie633.net

  • Sefton

    I’m in, will be mostly editing this month so will need some creative kick-starts for the rest of my brain.

  • I’m in 🙂

  • Batronyx

    I’m in. Already tweeted Days 1&2 word counts.

  • I’m in. I’m working on my Dad’s memoirs so will make that my focus and some blog content. Scrivener is my tool of choice. https://camtaylor.net

  • Back in the saddle again! Writing an ebook The Small Book of Contemplative Comfort. I’ll pull from this month’s writings.

  • Sonjia Upshaw

    I’m in. Determined to get my life story written down. This is the second time around since the computer I had it on years ago crashed and I lost the WHOLE thing. I write for HubPages and want to increase my visibility there as well. https://hubpages.com/@sonjiaupshaw:disqus

  • barfly129

    I’m in. Thanks for the motivation!

  • Jane Kavuma- Kayonga

    Thank you very much for this free offer at the beginning of a new year. I am ‘in’. I want to complete my third novel . I started a blog recently and I want to write posts consistently. I am aiming at becoming a remarkable writer and there is no better way to do it. The link to my blog is https:// apagefrommunakusbook.wordpress.com
    Jane Kavuma- Kayonga

  • Jeff Schicke

    I’m in!

  • Dawn Birt

    Hi There! I keep reading and re-reading this post, but have been too intimidated to start. I have a full time, and a growing side hustle. But I’m taking the leap – count me in! I’m a beginning blogger (www.ADogTrainersLife.com), and one of my goals for the year is to set up the habits that I need to create awesome content on a regular basis. Thank you for the challenge!

  • Hal Cone

    I’m In. Let’s build that writing habit and inspire some good!

  • Karen Tomsovic

    I’m in!

  • Alison

    I’m in Jeff – Thanks!

  • Joanne Pearson Fleck

    I’m in! Want to start writing and blogging consistently. New year; new attempt!

  • Mike Capener

    I’m in. The last time I wrote consistently was during my degree course a number of years ago. I want to pick the habit up again.

  • Nancy Elizabeth Patton

    I’m in and super excited! I spend so much time planning and learning how to write, but it’s time to start writing! Thank you for this.

  • Pam Joiner

    I’m in. I want to revive a goal from my high school days of becoming a writer. Writing was a talent I enjoyed that not only helped me but encouraged my classmates as well. And that was during the years the dinosaurs roamed, well, close to it anyway!

  • Laura

    I’m in. I’ve had a book marinating in my head for years. I’ve attempted to write that first draft over and over, only to find myself editing in the process and never getting anywhere. This time is different. I’m writing without looking back. I will only look forward to that expected end where the book is completely drained from my brain and on paper no matter how terrible I think that first draft is.

  • Janice Torres

    I’m in. I have written research papers in my Masters program, I have always wanted to write fiction.

  • Akin

    I’m in

  • vallauris

    In for sure – looking forward to the challenge

  • Candy

    I’m in!

  • Brian Bell

    I’m in!

  • Deborah Anne White

    I’m in!!!

  • Vanessa Shinmoto

    I’m in!

  • Ralston Barrett

    I’m in. I’ve been tinkering with idea about writing a memoir for a while, a very close relative of mine asked me to get it done a few months ago, this person died during the Christmas holidays and I have to keep the promise I made to him.

  • Conny

    I’m in!

  • Brenda Harris Haire

    I’m in! I am just launching a brand new blog at http://www.brendahaire.com! Excited to see what the year brings!

  • Ken Neptune

    I’m in Jeff! Even though my long term ambition is to complete the book that I’m working on, I think I’ll spend my 500 words a day writing about what life throws one’s way.

  • I’m in!

  • Tami

    I’m in.

  • Shreebas Saakha

    I’m in ! Thanks for the challenge!

  • I’m in. And thank you!

  • Justin Jacobs

    I’m in.

  • I’ve been in. But back to the novel today.

  • Jennifer Arzberger

    Count me “in”!

  • I’m in and absolutely pumped. Let’s take the challenge. Please keep me on track, folks

  • Mike Van Hoozer

    I’m in!

  • Tim Laverty

    In. Let’s go.

  • Shannon Denise Smith

    In 😉

  • Zdenko

    I am in!!! I am travel blogger and time to time I have difficulties to write new post. This daily 500 words habit can change it. I am absolutely in. http://www.firsttravelstep.com. Thank you for encourage us to write!

  • Devon

    In 🙂 <3

  • brandon_weldy

    I’m in! I’ve been writing a tiny bit more often lately. This will help me…commit! 🙂

  • Eric

    Alright…a swift kick to the arse! Just what I need.

    I’m in!

  • Keletso

    I am in, I just started my self empowerment blog last month and this will be great help.

    • Keletso

      My blog is tinysuccesshacks.com

  • ArizonaSherilyn

    Today’s email from Jeff encouraged us to write what we know. Interestingly, I have a recommendation for just the book to explore this. It was published late last year and is written by a writer and writing instructor here in Tucson, Meg Files. I’ve taken several courses in her program (she’s the head of the writing program at Pima Community College–wait, I think she just retired–but yes it’s a community college with a kick-ass writing program) and her most recent book is “Writing What You Know.” Check it out.

  • Wendi Heebsh Weber

    I’m in

  • Adeel Anwar

    I’ll definitely be using some of the ideas on this site for my website http://www.interestology.com and will continue writing until my fingers fall off! Our blog pays writers 100% of the advertising revenue gained from the site so if you’re interested in writing for us email me at adeel06@gmail.com with topics from sports to entrepreneurship there is something for everyone there!

  • Lirie


  • NurseWriter

    I’m in. Five hundred words a day is 200 more than my current daily minimum, but I’m up for the challenge. I’m writing an article for a professional nursing journal and working on a collection of essays for my adult children. I’ll do the laundry tomorrow.

  • Sheilah


  • Arriel Barbisan

    I’m in, however I’m a pen-on-paper writer, so I have no idea how you guys will be able to follow my progress. Regardless, I’ll join in too

    • Matt Rivers

      Easy… just fill 3 pages, or 4??? Or check your avergae over 3 or 4 pages. But that usually does it for me.

  • In

  • Jamey

    I’m in.

  • teddy8086

    I’m in. Just started today. Did a little over 300 words, but that’s better than zero.

  • Scott Kramer

    I’m in

  • Mary Ascher

    I’m in. Starting My Story. And I’m 66 years old, so there’s plenty of material! );-0)

  • Kimberly Dawn Rempel

    I’m in. Thanks, Jeff 🙂

    What I’ll write? Likely I’ll use the challenge for various projects that have stayed too long on my “later” pile. These include 2-3 short stories, blog posts for a blog I have long intended to start, and the ongoing story of my mom’s cancer journey.

    It’s too easy to just keep plugging away at existing projects and jobs – they’re familiar.
    My hope is that this challenge is the motivation I need to brave the new waters.

    Thanks for hosting it!

  • Matt Rivers

    I’m in! Starting a bit of writing practice, object writing, some blog ideas I had ages ago, finishing some old songs.

  • Jon

    I’m in/

  • This is so cool! I’m in!

  • Dan Genaro

    I’m in. dangenaro.wordpress.com

  • Damn cool stuff in this blog. really loved. Watch Indian Dramas

  • kap65

    I’m in. Really. This time I am IN!
    My website had focused on speaking, but I need to do more writing. My health has changed, so travel is more difficult. But I can write from home, on the blog as well as my (hopefully) first book.


  • I’m in!

  • Celine

    I’m in :]

  • jillie

    Hi Jeff…Your writing challenge was made known to me through a friend. I want to get in on the daily writing prompts, but do not blog, nor do I have book aspirations…..yet. Hope it’s okay if I just write daily for the learned discipline and for my sole enjoyment???

  • Mary Louise Bernard

    Me too

  • Nicole Braun Salter

    I’m in!

  • Melissa Upton

    I’m in. I’ll be writing backgrounds on character and setting for the novel that’s been in my head for years.

  • Justkat Typing

    I’m in.

  • Mike W. Junior

    Im in

  • nadia

    I’m in!

  • NR Lines

    I’m in

  • I’m in.

  • A. Deavey

    I’m in!

  • Marielle

    I just finished My 500 Words Challenge! During the month of January, I did it! I missed a few days, but set a habit. A lot of progress was made that I’ve wanted to do for a while. Thank you for the simple challenge and motivation!

  • I’m in Jeff….this time I’ll make sure I’ll hit the 15,000 words target

  • I’m in!!
    Day 1 completed…
    this time I commit myself to writing the whole of Feb.

  • Sherry C.

    I’m in!

  • Lisa Butler-Giamporcaro

    I’m in!

  • Landon Vick

    I’m in…

  • Doreen Gantt

    I’m in!
    This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long, long time!