A Great Writer Takes Initiative

Great Writers Initiate BadgeThis is Day 3 in the Great Writers Series.

Yesterday, I challenged you to believe you are a writer — maybe for the first time, maybe for the fiftieth. We all need reminders, regardless of where we are in the journey. I told you there would be a time to act. That time is now.

It’s time to start writing, and I don’t care if you’ve written your whole life. Today is different. It’s time to start again.

I also challenged you to get up two hours earlier than normal and just write. Did you do that? If you did, great. Do it again tomorrow. If not, that’s okay, too. Try again tomorrow.

A brief thought on starting

Every day, you have a decision: to start or stop the things worth doing. To continue building habits that make you more of your truest self, or to break the ones you’ve been doing for awhile.

As it turns out, this is all life is: subtle, gradual habit-forming. Becoming who we are through the things we do (or don’t do).

So start writing. Not just what’s comfortable, but what you were meant to write. Do it today. But before you can do that, you’ll have to do something else.

Choose yourself

Ever since middle school, we’ve been waiting to be picked. Hoping the cool kids would notice us. Or if we were the cool kids, we were hoping we would stay that way.

I don’t care who you are — you’ve got confidence issues. Especially if you’re a writer. There’s something you’re struggling with, some level to which you haven’t attained, some expertise you’ve yet to master. And be honest: you’re a little insecure about it.

Which is totally okay. But we’re not going to stay there. That all ends today. And of course, you’ll have to choose to do the same thing tomorrow.

The challenge

Choose yourself. Stop jumping up and pleading, “Pick me, pick me, pick me!” and look yourself in the mirror and say: “You. I pick you.”

What’s something you’re questioning about yourself? For some, it will be the simple choice to actually call yourself a writer (but I hope we’ve overcome that by now).

For authors, it will be a seemingly more elusive term: “author.” And for others, it may be “novelist” or “best seller” or something else.

Here’s what I want you to do: Write down in some place secret, “I am a ____.” Do it and do it now. We’ll come to it later. For now, pull it out every day and read it. Yes, this is hokey, and yes, I want you to do it, anyway.

Then, I want you to start something you’re scared of. Maybe it’s a book, an article for a magazine, or something else. All I want you to do is begin. Tomorrow, we’ll talk about where to go from here.

Continued practice

For the duration of this series, I want you to practice getting up early every day and writing. Today, we did two hours early. If that felt good, do it again. If you were dragging all day, adjust your schedule appropriately.

What we’re trying to do here is make room for writing. If the phone is ringing off the hook, the kids are asking for breakfast, and your email keeps dinging, that’s not ideal.

Find a time when distractions are minimal, and write. Give yourself grace, but also hold yourself accountable. Remember: Every day is another chance to start again.

Bonus reading: If you need help with the “just write” part, read this: How to Form a Daily Writing Habit

Did you get up early today? How did it go? What did you write? Share in the comments. And be sure to encourage another writer.

403 thoughts on “A Great Writer Takes Initiative

  1. All the writing I’ve done in the past couple of years has always been work related. This assignment, series, whatever you wanna call it, pushed me into just shooting off whatever’s in my mind. I hope it carries into something more – Journal, Short Stories, Something Bigger. This (https://bit.ly/Lfa6oQ) is how it kicked off. Waking up two hours earlier than usual (I woke up 5 hours earlier than usual because of the NBA game, but who’s counting) has really made more productive today. Hope it continues.

  2. I didn’t mean to, but I did get up two hours earlier than I’d hoped! I missed yesterday’s challenge, but I guess it was meant to be. I was tossing and turning, thinking about finances and a big writing project I’ve been working on. One of four people just dropped out after two years of working together, three months before our launch date. So I couldn’t sleep. And I did write… and I had some precious quiet time and reflection and seeking on paper. It was an encouraging and empowering way to start my day!
    Thanks Jeff…also loved your post over at alexisgrant.com.

  3. Maybe because it was day 3, I had 3 hours in my brain, instead of 2, so wrote for 3 hours this morning, taking a break to walk the dog who was confused as to why I was not following the normal morning routine.

    The day has only begun and I have written for 3 hours. Thanks for the challenge, Jeff.

  4. Unbelievably I awoke before my alarm clock, which was set for an hour earlier than usual get up time during the school hols over here. My youngest was up just before me and went downstairs. I picked up the Ipad and took it into his bedroom, leaving a sleeping hubby in our bed.

    I guess I surprised myself that I actually did some writing before breakfast (even before a cup of mandatory tea – very British!)  Here’s my little blog about day 3… 


    Thanks. Let’s keep going with this people, I think it’s making a difference. 

  5. I was so anxious about waking up 2 hours earlier than my normal time that I woke up THREE hours earlier without the alarm clock! But at the appointed time I wrote. And wrote. Despite my sluggishness and zombified state I wrote for an hour and 45 minutes. What I learned was that I need to be intentional to find the balance of physical and creative space that Melody Michelle wrote about in her blog yesterday. 

    I maintain 2 blogs: a personal one and photography blog. I juggle a full-time job along with my photography business and in the midst of all that I write. Not because I need to but because I HAVE to. But I never carve out a specific time to write. I spend most of my free time editing photos for my clients and writing in my personal blog when I can but NEVER create a regular time to write. 

    Now I see how essential it is to do that. I will continue to adjust my schedule accordingly. 

  6. Got up an hour and 45 minutes early and it felt great.  I wrote 2,337 words of a new story I’m working on.  The morning didn’t go without interruption, but that’s okay.  I still got so much accomplished and it started my day off beautifully.  Thanks Jeff!

  7. It’s funny how on an intelligent level I know these things, but you are putting a different light to it. I am happy you are here guiding us beyond ourselves to get us to the page. Thanks for cheering us all along. Tra-la-la.

  8. I’m a night owl, so I stayed perched at my computer working on my blog until the wee hours. And then I slept in. Since staying up late isn’t a new habit for me, I think trying to get up early will be a great guesture of commitment and I will valiantly try again tomorrow.

  9. Making this a priority and just doing it is challenging me. I didn’t get up early and write this morning and I’ve already rationalized why I’m not planning to do it tomorrow. Looks like I’m going to have to adjust my days to begin the habit-forming process outlined here. 

    My morning routine is my current habit. I will adjust my routine and make room for the early bird  practice of writing. 

    I’ve done this to before for my morning run which enabled me to lose 50+ pounds 9 years ago and keep it off since. Now it’s time to get up extra-extra early because I am a writer! 

  10. I got up..not really that early, but I wrote. I wrote about writing, and practice, and not likeing to practice, not liking to get up, my way to change my attitude from negative to positive, my role model, and by the end of the hour or so of writing I felt SO much better.  I am learning so much and am gratful for the opportunity and encouragement offered in this series.  I spend my days as wife and navigator in a semi as we criss cross the midwest.  I am blessed because suddenly my life has changed and I have time and opportunity to fulfill a dream  Praise God!

  11. So today, I slept through my alarm. Not only that, but I also woke up later than usual. I did however write a post (

    This marks 4 days in a row of hitting the publish button. I don’t think I have ever been this consistent at blogging before. I am practicing my identity as a writer in public! I count that as a win.

    Today’s challenge leaves me at a bit of a loss. I don’t know how to further define my “I am____” statement. I am a writer; but I don’t want to only be a blogger. I have two books in my bones that I have been finding every excuse for not starting, even though “I’ve been working on them.” Today, I have discovered that I can blog even in the midst of life. So, I am going to try the getting up early thing again tomorrow so that I can make more space, space to start laying down ink for my books. (eep… I just said that out loud)

  12. I am a total night person– like, I get a burst of energy to work around midnight or 1 AM. Getting up for my 9-to-5 job is painful enough on its own, so when I saw the “wake up two hours earlier” assignment I groaned and pouted and grumbled and whined and said to myself, “FINE, I committed to actually doing the work, so I’ll freakin’ do it.” =)

    In a nice moment of synchronicity, I had to be at work earlier than usual today anyway for a presentation, so I decided that I would get up extra-early and then go straight to the office, where it would be quiet and I would have literally nothing else to do until my presentation but sit and write.

    At that point, I hadn’t ready today’s entry yet, but it ended up that I was working on something that was scaring me– a new story that has been growing and blooming in my mind for quite a while now. I’ve been procrastinating on actually starting it, because I guess I’d envisioned it so much in my mind that I was feeling fear that once I started writing, it would be so bland and imperfect and just so much less than I imagined. So I was feeling a lot of resistance to forcing myself to go to the office early and use the time to write, because I knew I couldn’t just cop out and twiddle away my time on Facebook or something– not without knowing that I was failing the day’s challenge. And it was just scary to know that This Was It, that I was actually going to start.

    Four and a half pages later, and I’m in love! There were fits and starts but the words started flowing, and the viewpoint character was funny and snarky and had a distinct voice and was thrust into a conflict that, in and of itself, suddenly grew in a whole new interesting direction. I had to *make* myself stop in order to actually, you know, do my job, and I am delighted that I left it hanging in an exciting place, with plenty of planned-story left to write before I get to the parts I haven’t figured out yet. I am so thrilled to be past this huge self-imposed obstacle about getting started! Thank you, thank you for doing this challenge. It’s exactly what I needed.

    As for the time– so far, I’m still wide awake and no worse for wear. I’m going to try writing some more tonight at home when I would normally want to write, and see how it feels in terms of distraction and tiredness and all that. But I actually found myself thinking that maybe I could bear to get up early if it meant I started the day off with great pages, so we’ll see, I guess!

  13. Hi, I did get up early, and was just getting into my writing when my youngest son called by on his way home from a night shift. He can talk for England, so it was a while before I got back into writing.
    However, I finished the piece I’d planned on doing. I’d already made notes for doing a guest blog for Jeremy Myers. He’d invited anyone to send one – so I’d thought ‘why not?’ Bit scary as the first time I’d done this sort of thing.
    Tried to keep to your ‘rules’, Jeff – but I did use ‘thing’ and ‘stuff’ a few times, though. Well Paul – or his translators had used it – and Word thesaurus and Roget didn’t come up with a suitable alternative and the one I thought of sounded a bit pretentious in context.
    I’ll let folks know how it went.

  14. I just want to say that this was AWESOME. I am a natural morning person, and I tend to do most of my creative/productive between 5 and noon. I didn’t get up two hours early because I was so excited about getting up to write that I didn’t get to sleep until about 12:30, but I did set the alarm for 4:59, just because, and then had an absolute blast recounting a story that happened to me yesterday. Something tells me everyone can relate…

    Ever been in a long line of cars merging onto an off ramp in rush hour traffic and had some jackwagon pass everyone and try to merge in at a last second? Well this happened yesterday…and then a State Trooper zoomed up and made the guy back out and go right back down the freeway! It was seriously awesome, and the perfect inspiration because the story had to be told. A true triumph of decency and justice.


  15. This has really opened up something in me. Writing for your living (Blogs and such) isn’t the same as writing without any expectations, at least for me it hasn’t. Until I came along this series (thanks to Jrod) I think I’ve gone over 2 years without actually writing for fun, for personal reasons. I thought I had no creativity or something like that left in me. I think I was just lazy.

  16. Jeff, I again thank you for this 15-day challenge. It’s a gift, and it came at the best time for me.

    When I sat down to write today, I thought I was going to start that novel that I always wanted to write. Instead, I started an essay about intuition–how I always seemed to have good intuition about other people, but never followed or honed in on what that voice inside me was telling me about myself! I have played it so safe all my life, but that’s not what God has been telling me to do. I sometimes wondered if writing would be enough (and maybe it won’t be one day). Then, I found a quote one day by Elie Wiesel: “Words can, sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds.” And another by James Baldwin: “You write in order to change the world, knowing perfectly well that you probably can’t, but also knowing that literature is indispensable to the world. . . . The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way . . . people look at reality, then you can change it.”

  17. This morning I woke up at 3:30am and checked my email. I noticed that Jeff’s challenge had begun 2 days ago and I had missed the starting gun! Interestingly, I had managed to do the homework even though I wasn’t aware of it!

    The day before, I had confessed to 2 coworkers that I was pursuing writing by signing up for an adult writing camp (not quite the same as declaring I’m a writer, but closer than I had ever done before).

    And by serendipity, here I was, up 2 hours earlier than normal. So, I jumped write in. Most of the writing was cathartic in nature. I find that kind of writing clears away the cobwebs and endless loops, which frees up my mind to be creative and clear.

    I so enjoy reading eeveryone’s stories here and especially of thsoe with supportive spouses/friends. I get my support from this (and a couple other) blogs. Thanks, Jeff for being so inspirational and providing a space for (I almost wrote ‘aspiring’ but deleted it!!) writers to just practice without rejection letters!  

    1. Wow, that’s awesome that you just woke up early! I find that most of my writing is also cathartic…I have to write it down in order to get it out of my system. If I go too long without writing, I get to feeling all cluttered inside.

      Thanks for sharing your story. Congrats on telling your coworkers about your writing!

  18. I didn’t get up earlier because as of right now, I’m a full time writer…until I start a job on Monday. I’m a college student, so I’m taking the summer off from classes.

    I decided to write about something that I knew I would never write about if I didn’t do it RIGHT NOW. I am a Christian, and it’s tough for me to speak out about it sometimes. Just letting people know that “this is the real me” is nervewracking for me…especially in college, where everyone is liberal and thinks Christians are closed-minded and ignorant (or maybe that’s only what I perceive). So I wrote about something that we talked about in church last night that really touched my heart…but it was about the destruction and ruin prophesied in Jeremiah 9. Not a popular passage.

    It’s really freeing to shamelessly be who I truly am, without letting those poisonous fears get to me. I’ve done that for too long in the past, and it’s only hurt me. I’m so excited to continue LIVING like this.

    The link to that blog is here: https://sammmbam.wordpress.com/2012/06/07/courage/

    As for “starting”, I have always wanted to write an article for the Good Women Project ( https://www.goodwomenproject.com ). I follow them pretty closely and I think I have something to contribute there!

  19. okay.. I didn’t get up 2 hours early to write but I have set 2 hours a day all week this week and next to write without any distractions.  Day 3 and I have over 10,000 words!  It is a simple ‘how-to’ ebook that is over half done.  

    Just takes the time to sit and write…without checking facebook, or getting another glass of water, or texting, or…  

    Thanks for this series!

  20. Getting up early? Set my alarm for the two hours earlier than I usually get up, or need to get up, but not finding this challenge or even starting this challenge until after midnight did not do anything for my get-up-early-and-write. Tonight, I will get in bed with enough time to sleep before I get up to write.

    On the flip side, I learned something about myself as an early bird. I currently teach high school and even though I try to get up earlier than needed to write, I have been defeating myself with the argument that I don’t want to be in the middle of writing a good part and have to leave to go to work. This morning there was no work, but a scheduled 8:00 am appointment and I pulled the same argument with myself.

    At least now I understand my bad habit and can work to break it.

  21. I failed at getting up two hours early today 🙁  But  today’s challenge gives me the boost I need to start something I’ve been meaning to write for a few weeks now.   Maybe I’ll use my two hours each morning to write it! Best of luck to everyone taking this challenge!

  22. Well my early morning was an epic fail! I was wide awake 6 and yet I chose to roll over, snuggle up with husband and go back to sleep, promising myself I would do my two hours this evening. Then of course I had an emotional rollercoaster of a day and ended up curled up on the sofa under a quilt all evening – not productive! 

    So tomorrow I’m starting again. I’m trying to brainstorm some ideas this evening so that in the morning I have more direction and I can at least get started on a project rather than faff about thinking ‘What do I write about?!’

  23. I have been drawn to writing since I could put words together to form sentences. The content and the voice has matured and progressed over the years and in general, it has been something I’ve always enjoyed. Until it became a chore to do so every day. I lost my lust for wordplay and became lazy with my craft. Sure, I write all the time, but only because it’s my job. Not because it is something I always want to do. But no mas! It’s time to do work.

    First step: Declare yourself a writer. Check. (I got a resounding response of ‘Duh!’ from my family and friends. That was encouraging.)

    Second step: Believe. Well, that’s progressing… (I DID wake up earlier to write today; suprisingly enough, though I’ve hit that mid-afternoon mark, I haven’t hit that mid-afternoon wall yet. Get excited!)

    Third step: Initiate. I know today’s challenge is geared more towards starting a new writing piece, work habit, etc. but for me, it translated to ‘It’s time to step out of the comfort of your anonymity and into the community. If I’m going to particate in the challenge, I need to be held accountable.’ So… here I am. Scared but standing.

    Continued luck to all!

    1. Reading your last paragraph made me think of lyrics from a song.
      If you gotta start somewhere why not here
      If you gotta start sometime why not now
      If we gotta start somewhere I say here
      If we gotta start sometime I say now

      Good luck with your start!!!

    2. Way to go, Alisa!

      Me too – time to step out of the comfort zone.  I’m scared too and not sure what this challenge means for me yet, but it came at the “right time,” and I’m here and I’m doing it!

  24. Love, love the challenge to tuck away a secret “I am a ____” note to reference every day!

    After a few “I am a ____” drafts, I finally came up with one that actually addressed my fears and doubts. The first few were lame. They were more aspirations/goals and didn’t speak to the core of my writing insecurities.

    But I have one now that resonates with my heart. And I know it will provide me daily motivation to get writing.

    Thanks Jeff for the short assignment. I’m sure it will reap lots of motivational dividends!

  25. I didn’t get up earlier because I wake up at 1 am for my day job 🙁 but I did spend extra time writing 🙂 I’mh appy to report that I’m plugging away on my third book! Thanks for this challenge Jeff!

  26. I am a writer and …I scewed the pooch!  Soooooooo… I was all full of hope and energy as I set my alarm to awaken me  at 3:45am for a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed writing session before I get ready to come into the office today.  Funny thing about 3:45am.  While my ears heard the call, there is apparently a thick soundproof barrier between my ears and my brain  directing all my muscles to react,  that doesn’t activate until 5:45am.   Who Knew?!
    For me, I think writing time before bed is a much better goal.  Turning off the TV to write is infinitely easier than turning my brain on before the butt-crack of dawn.

  27. I am so grateful to you Jeff, I started writing today 3 1/2 pages.  That is a start because I hadn’t written for a long time because I became very ill and had to withdraw from college.  So I hope to continue on with writing everyday.  

  28. I learned something about myself this morning. The creative part of my brain does not work until I’ve been awake for at least two hours. I tried to write when I woke up, but couldn’t put together a coherent thought or sentence. I am wired to work in the evenings. I do my best thinking at night, and based on my schedule and life it’s really the only time I’m afforded. It’s good to see I’m not alone. I will carve out two hours a day, it just might not be in the morning. Thanks, Jeff, for your supportive comments to all the night owls. Like you said, the point is to make the time. P.S. The series is awesome. Can’t wait to see what each new day holds!

    1. I tell people all the time that my brain doesn’t actually start working until noon. I can do mundane housework, yard work and all that before noon, but nothing I have to think about. You are definitely not alone. I am and always will be a night owl. I’m carving my two hours out after everyone else here is in bed 🙂

    2. I think I may be wired much the same way; that my best work is done at night. But I’ll give this morning deal a try and see how it goes. Regardless keep after it no matter what time of the day/night you’re writing.

    3.  It takes me an hour after I wake up before I can start writing. I have to meditate first, and that takes a good 30 to 40 minutes.  Otherwise, my head feels fuzzy and scattered for the rest of the day. My real time wasters are email reading and social networks, so I am determined to make those “after writing” activities.

  29. Reading all the comments I feel slovenly. We just started summer vacation today. I had hoped to sleep in. My kids woke me up with their “joyful” noises probably 2 hours earlier than I had hoped. So I guess technically I was up two hours early. But I didn’t write then. I do not work well in the morning but I am lucky enough to have other time in my day already set aside for writing. I think the most important thing is to make the time. But this morning around 10 I was able to get a couple of blog posts done. 

  30. Writers, believe in yourself. Take the initiative, even if you don’t think you can. I struggle a great deal with believing in myself and my ideas, but I’m trying to take tangible steps toward changing that for myself. Putting yourself out there is hard, but worth it. Recently, I had an idea for a collaborative book project that involved collecting extremely raw, personal, gritty pieces of writing from a group of authors, many of whom are well-known and very successful published authors already. It was a totally crazy idea, but I put together an invitation letter figuring I had nothing to lose (and that nobody would take me seriously), sent it to 40 authors to judge interest, then wrote a proposal. I am nobody in the publishing world and there was no obvious reason why anyone would want to open their souls onto pages for my benefit. 

    But guess what? TWENTY-FOUR of them gave me an enthusiastic “yes”. More than half of them believed enough in my crazy idea to lend their words to the project, and we took it to a publisher who has already expressed interest and we’re awaiting acceptance. Whether or not we get it from our first choice publisher (and if we don’t, we’ll keep trying), this was a HUGE life lesson for me in taking initiative with writing and believing in my hard work enough to give it a chance in the world. (Sorry this was so long… just felt it was fitting with your topic of initiative.) Believe in the life of your words! 

    1.  Wow! Congrats!

      I personally struggle with BELIEVING I am somebody in the writing world but right here, right now I am going to say this to you:

      You ARE somebody and you ARE going to do great at this project.

      All the best to you!

  31. I am starting my first short story that other writers and people will see. In addition, I am writing a very short true story for a small part in a magazine. Plus, there are more on the horizon. These are all pieces that other writers will see. Even though other writers see my blog, those are all true stories and I have written truth all my life. Fiction – not so much! And the piece for the national magazine – we’ll see if it gets accepted!

  32. I am joining in on Day 3.  And that is my scary thing I am starting. 🙂  Because I avoided it for two days.  Now I know…I can’t.

  33. I’m definitely not sure about sustaining a schedule of getting up early, but I managed to spend some time writing today and get a blog post up.  A small win is still a win!  I’m really appreciating the accountability that comes with this challenge.  It’s hard to skip out when there are others asking if you’ve completed today’s challenge.  That is just what I need to build daily writing into a habit.

    1. I totally agree Jennifer. It’s the accountability piece that I was missing before. If I wasn’t telling anyone I’m a writer, no one had to ask me what I’ve written lately. It’s so easy to slip back into old patterns of settling and not taking risks, like the ones Jeff is asking of us. And ditto on the small win is still a win! I recently wrote on my Facebook that I’m declaring myself as a writer and asked those who support me to hit ‘like.’ I’m afraid to check back! Silly right? But for me that was a huge thing 🙂 Good luck!

  34. What I had confirmed for me the other morning is that reading email as soon as I get on the computer is a BIG time waster. It may also be my way of procrastinating or avoiding writing. So when I had no Internet service the other morning for several hours, I sajd to myself, “Well, you could be writing.”  And that’s what I did.

    I got up an hour early this morning, checked my email (because I’m waiting to here from a freelance writing client about a telephone meeting we scheduled for today) and then did some editing work. I also reviewed  the preliminary notes my client sent me so that I’d be ready for the telecon.

    So now, I’m going to finish the third blog post that I started when I had no Internet service while I’m waiting for my client to contact me. Then, I’m going to work on this book I’ve been wanting to write but have had some fear issues around. (e.g., will it be good enough? will the book I WANT to write the book I actually write?)

    My main problem isn’t that I don’t have time to write. I am semi-retired and have all the time I need to devote several hours a day to writing. It’s the time wasters like reading email and those little fears that get in the way of my productivity.

  35. I didn’t get up early to write, but I did take time to write a blog post. I’m counting that. And in it I said I am a writer. 🙂 Thanks for all you do to spur on writers.

  36. The “then start doing what scares you” part is holding me up. I’m not sure what *scares me.* I know what I don’t want to do because I’m lazy or feel like I don’t have enough experience. But… scares me? The first thing that comes to mind is going back-packing in Europe. But that has nothing to do with writing. And I have no monies.

  37. May I ask the “dreaded” question that I think most writers avoid, “What are you writing?”?  LoL. 
    I’m more curious as to the number of fiction verses nonfiction writers we’ve got here. 
    I’m focusing on nonfiction write now.  

    1.  racheAl, I wish I could write fiction. I keep telling myself I’m not a novelist. Maybe that’s some thing I need to declare because I would love to write a romance novel.

      Like youl, I’m focusing on nonfiction for now, including writing posts for my crochet blog, articles on Hubpages, and copy for a freelance writing client, all of which I find easy to do as long as I’m not wasting time reading emails and trolling on FB.

      Then there’s this nonfiction book I want to write but that’s making me nervous just thinking about it. I’ve outlined it (easy-peezy), so now it’s time to start writing which I have.  But each day I struggle with the next blank page, nervous that I won’t be able to come up with anything, despite having an outline, or that it won’t be good enough. But the words DO come and before you know it, I’ve written several hundred of them. So I try to keep doing this over and over again.

    2.  I’m a non-fiction writer. I stick to writing my blog right now and class assignments when I have them.

      I’ve tried my hand at fiction many times but have never quite grasped it nor gained much interest in it. I’m more interested in writing about life as it happens and the true stories and experiences in our lives than a made up one. That’s just me of course. =)

  38. Yeah, I woke up early today–thank God for coffee! It was a challenge to clear the cobwebs and begin writing, but after a few sips of the java and a shake or two of the head, I began to put words one in front of the other. After about an hour in, the feeling I’d somehow cheated myself of sleep was gone and I was fully in the moment and enjoying every ounce of it.

  39. So encouraging having a whole community doing this same challenge. I was up at 3 am and wrote about an hour and a half before my run – felt so great! Not sure I can publish any of it yet, but it was so exciting getting past that blank screen – I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to write anything – but it just started flowing. Really liberating.

    Got to say, I’m so far outside my comfort zone lately – declaring I’m a writer – writing more blogs – commenting on others’ blogs – scary but exhilarating stuff!

    Thank you Jeff so much for pushing me – just what I needed to grow!

    1. That’s awesome Carol! It’s outside my comfort zone too, especially declaring it to everyone on my Facebook page! I feel like a writer coming out of the closet :). It’s terrifying and freeing at the same time. 

  40. Sad to say I did not wake up 2 hours earlier. I think it had something to do with only sleeping 4-6 hrs all this week to get in some sporadic art/writing time that kind screwed me on this one. This reminds me the importance of writing as being a habit versus completely random thoughts on paper/keyboard. I will definitely try going to sleep earlier so I can get this started.

  41. I did wake up early to write. The thing I am going to start is the eBook I have been talking about for over two years. I am just going to write it and not edit until it is done. I feel many great opportunities coming into my life, first beginning with my first keynote speaking opportunity, a mastermind group I adore and feeling more confident than I have in years. It feels good taking charge and choosing ME for a change.

    1. Just read your post Adam, that’s awesome!! I agree about the value of support, especially as we start out. Funny thing is my boyfriend has been the one declaring TO ME that I’m a writer for years now… I just didn’t BELIEVE it. Now I’m on my way… good luck! 

  42. I did it!!  I did the “wake up two hours earlier thing” and I did it to WRITE!!  I prayed about it and said if this is something I have been called to do, then make it easy for me to wake up and do it….At 4:50am…awake…wide awake!

  43. I got up this morning, and wrote, and I am so glad that I did. I put a 1600 word short story on paper (on a word document, more accurately), and it was a great way to start my day. Tomorrow, I’m going to start the habit of going to a coffee shop every morning to write, and I’m going to start working on my novels again. I’m mid-way through two, and I stopped working on them because I thought no one would read them. I know now that I need to write them for me in order to become the writer that I want to be, so tomorrow I’m going to start working on them again.


  44. I did the challenge and got up 2 hours early to write today, and logged just over 1,100 words on my WIP. Thank you so much for this encouragement, I will get up and do it again tomorrow. Today’s struggle is comparing myself to other writers and feeling like I am more naturally inclined as an editor, and that my journalistic background keeps my fiction too succinct to be very good. But I am not going to give up, only stive to be better…thank you!

  45. i spent time outlining my next book  7 Shifts for TEENS.  a book to support youth in making life transformational choices BEFORE adulthood.  i love my outline, and my points thus far.

    my sister wrote her post abortive story, absolute courage, and i will post my version, as her sister, about her loss of her first conception.  i wrote my rough draft of that.

    i must confess, i did NOT get up two hours early.  i stayed up one hour late, and worked in chunks of time this morning, among the 10+ kids/teens in and out of my house/car all day today.  

    i did it though.  because I AM A WRITER

      1. It seems like Jenny has a grea idea!  I visited your site and I lked at first glance what you are doing.  What would it take to guest post on your site? What would the critiria be?  On day 4 Jeff wants us to guest post…I guess I am asking!  Is anyone reading and commenting past posts? Will you see this?

  46. I wasn’t able to get up 2 hours early, my body just wouldn’t let me. But I did do something I fear. Share my biggest dream. findingthefairmaiden.blogspot.com

  47. Since we’re being held accountable, I must be honest – I did not get up early. I DID set my alarm but snoozed it a few times, then turned it off. But I finished my day job today for the summer, so starting tomorrow, I can do 2 hours in the morning easy. And what great timing with this new challenge of starting something we’re scared of. I want to start a children’s picture book, and am taking an introductory class on it tonight! 🙂 

    I am learning that the difference between great writers and myself is this: they kept on writing, despite everything. Consistency and commitment are the keys…. the “subtle, gradual habit-forming” Jeff talks about in this post. I’m only 3 days in but have noticed that it DOES, believe it or not, get easier to fight the Resistance. It’s a daily battle, but now I BELIEVE I can beat it! So excited! Sending the creative spirit to everyone 🙂

    1.  Thanks for the creative spirit.  I caught it and am sending it on to the next person.

      BELIEVE is a powerful word.  Good luck to you with your children’s picture book!

      1. Got the spirit too! Thanks everyone! Almost done with the summery of my book, something I have been struggling with and postponing for ever. I am wondering, how can I share and ask for feed back?  Anyone can tell me?

  48. Waking up early is a bit of a problem for me; my workplace is relatively far from home. But instead of morning, I extend some time at night. This works better for me, just like in my student days. The silence of night is helpful for me.

  49. As I already get up at 5 in the morning, there’s no way I’m getting up any earlier. Besides, I do carve out about 30-45 minutes of writing time every morning. I think I go one better though. Instead of turning on the TV after I get home, I write for an average of 2 hours a day. 

    1.  Werner – I think it’s all about creating a good writing ‘habit’.  No matter what time of the day you craft your stories.  Sounds like you are very much on track.

  50. can’t believe i did it. think i wrote 
    a pretty good piece too. hope to share it soon on my blog…soon 
    as i figure out how to do tags 
    and badges 
    and get the ‘ a’ key fixed on my laptop. i have to copy & paste right now 

  51. Today I took a stab at writing fiction.  I posted the first installment of a short story I’m writing on my blog: https://susans140plus.com/susan-attempts-to-write-fiction/

  52. Taking the initiative sounds so simple, but can be hard because of fear of the unknown.  But like you said Jeff you have to choose you and what you want to accomplish.  Today I chose to start writing my book about my journey.  I have been procrastinating for a long time because I didn’t think I could do it.  But I am going to give my all and see what happens.  Over the past two years I’ve been blogging and it definitely has helped me with my writing skills, but I know I have a lot of work to do.  This is one of the main reasons I joined this challenge.  I look forward to taking this one day at a time and building confidence and learning along the way.

    1.  Ben – I KNEW that was you and your story.  It’s Mike from “MikeWakesUp”.  I am so glad to hear that you’re going to chronicle your journey.  You have a great story to share with the world.

      Tell me how you’ve been!  You can find me on Twitter @goodchoicesproj:disqus
       or at my NEW blog:  http://www.themakegoodchoicesproject.org.

      Would love to catch up with you!  God Bless!

  53. Today has been a good day!  I INITIATED the beginning of the book I have been talking about writing forever.  I managed to get over 2000 words written and I HAD FUN in the process 🙂

  54. Love writing in the early morning on the front porch.  Love writing in the middle of the day during lunch.  Love writing in the evening.  It is a full body experience. 

  55. I actually followed your directive today without knowing it. I started something, something that I didn’t expect to start and something that terrifies me. It was almost like I didn’t have a choice. But I know I do, and I can already feel myself wanting to walk away. Thanks for this timely shove into the unknown, into doing.

  56. I woke up 2 hours early yesterday and was completely into writing my travel posts. I finished writing one for my buffer and I also managed to publish and edit another one in draft. I normally wake up at 11am since I work from home so getting up at 9am was not so bad. By mid-afternoon, I had finished all the pending online marketing stuff that were keeping me “busy” for the past weeks from writing. I was so surprised that I had extra time again to write and wrote until the evening. 

    Today I set my alarm but did not intend to wake up. Unconciously, I think I was “rewarding” myself for the great job. I heard the alarm but kept going back to sleep. I felt guilty every time before I dozed off then the alarm will go off again. I woke up a couple more times to look at the watch and it’s only been 10 minutes. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore haha. I got up at 10 am.. Still feeling guilty that I don’t do what I say.

    Then I saw this post. It made me want to start again. Everything is okay. I will wake up again 2 hours early tomorrow. If I could wake up early for my travels, waking up early to write and blog is very doable now that I think about it =) 

    Check out my latest post: https://guiltlessgetaways.blogspot.com/

  57. Day 3: 1025 participants

    343 comments today

    Wow… I am feeling the weight of today’s challenge and
    struggling with the wanting and needing and the “pick me, pick me, pick me!”

    Building your Author’s
    Platform can be downright addicting and deflating all at once.

    I want to believe I am a writer!  I want to write!  I just want to choose me! 

    If I can authentically do this, the rest will come.
    (clicking my heels three times…)

  58. Day 3
    1025 participants

    343 comments today

    Wow… I am feeling the weight of today’s challenge and
    struggling with the wanting and needing and the “pick me, pick me, pick me!”

    Building your Author’s
    Platform can be downright addicting and deflating all at once.

    I want to write!I am a writer!I will choose me! 

    If I can authentically do this, the rest will come.(…clicking my heels 3 times…)

  59. I yam what I yam and I yam proud of it.  Stepped off the humor soapbox for a minute and wrote something thoughtful, then got back on the box again – I yam, what I yam

  60. I shut my door for an hour this evening to concentrate on writing. My neighbors were just outside on the walkway having a loud conversation while a couple kids with them laughed and giggled loudly. I struggled for the first 10 minutes to gather my thoughts, find my iPod, plug in my headphones, and set the world to “ignore”.

    Once that ended I bounced between three separate pieces I have been working on for blog posts. In that hour I wrote about 1,000 words though I probably edited out 300. One of my greatest weaknesses is silencing my inner editor as I write. I’m thinking of my reader and how they will interpret it. I’m thinking of my own thoughts on the piece and questioning whether what I said makes sense or if I’m just writing gibberish.

    But even with that, I’m thrilled to say I wrote those 1,000 words. I did what I said I was going to do tonight. A small personal accomplishment but an accomplishment nonetheless.

    Tomorrow, it’ll be shutting out my husband and the cats for 1 hour of me time with my laptop so I can write another 1,000 words, hopefully more. =)

  61. I continued writing on my novel this morning, although I got up at the slightly healthier hour of 5:30 a.m. instead of 3!   I am now nearing the end and am wondering what I was afraid of, why I kept putting it off for so long.  The ‘initiating something’ challenge has been a little more difficult, as I feel I shouldn’t be starting anything new before I finish this major project, the novel.  Finally, I thought that I should waste all the poems I have written over the past few months (mainly as procrastination, to avoid having to work on the novel), so my initiative is to start submitting them to literary magazines.  Any suggestions, much appreciated!

  62. I actually got up early this morning. Which is unusual for me, because I am a night owl and typically stay up until 3am! So when I say I go up 2 hours early, I mean I go up at 8am.

  63. OK, so I did what I said, I said I wouldn’t get up 2 hours early, today, because today I don’t have to go to the office.  But I did say I’d committ the first 2 hours of my waking day to writing.  I kept that promise.  I have an idea for an article about mentoring women in the law (I’m a lawyer and would have loved to have had a mentor on my journey).  I spent the two hours just putting down all the things I want to share about this topic, a topic I am quite passionate about, and the questions I have myself about what a mentor would contribute and what a mentee would seek, and made notes of some research I need to do to round it out.  I put down the things that have sustained me over the past 20 years in driving myself forward in what is a not so easy profession for a woman to succeed in, or to quite feel like the absolute best fit (life balance wise).  I wrote 3,358 words.  I’m going to work it up and submit it to my professional magazine by no later than 14 July.  Thank you for the challenge, I’m on my writer’s path having taken my first step.

  64. Yesterday, I did not want to write at all.  I don’t think I did my readers any favor by doing so.  But, I wrote anyway.  It’s good to have discipline and I need the practice.  thank you for the encouragement.

  65.  I forgot to add this in my original comment.  Thank you, Jeff, for your image of waiting to be chosen.  That touched a chord with me.  I was the stereotypical nerd in school, more at home in a book than in physical activity.  I hated PE because yep, I was always one of the last ones chosen.  I carried that feeling of inferiority throughout my life, so your lovely words brought tears to my eyes. 

    Choose yourself. Stop jumping up and pleading, “Pick me, pick me, pick me!” and look yourself in the mirror and say: “You. I pick you.”

    Thank you for the inspiration!  (I’m sorry, but I don’t know how to italicize or set off an extended quote.  How do you do that?)

  66. Although I didn’t comment until now, I did get up at 5, and have managed to continue it, even  Saturday. I can’t say it is getting a lot easier, but the allure of time to write before the day hangs its albatross around my neck gets me out of bed–that and a preprogrammed coffee maker.

    I started a novella (maybe novel) that germinated from a flash fiction challenge months ago.  Several readers wanted more of the character and the story. I’ve been sitting on it, wanting to work on it, but never “having the time.”  The time is now, and I am taking every last second of it.

    1. That’s GREAT, Elizabeth!  I agree that the time on the coffee pot is the single greatest factor in my success to getting up early…the smell of fresh coffee wafting into my room makes 5 seem a little less painful.  Can’t wait to see your work!

  67. Though I had no time to comment until now, I  DID  get up 2 hours early and write. On my laptop, before I so much as got up for the day (because once I get up there are the dog and the 2 peach faced lovebirds who all need attention. The minute they know I’m downstairs).  So, in my room, with my laptop, is the way to go. I need to use a thumb drive so that I can print stuff out later, downstairs.  I had lost my homemade instruction paper about saving my material on the thumb drive, so tried doing it by memory.  Then wrote the first draft of an essay whether I’d actually get it saved or not. It didn’t take. Having written it out in longhand days before, at least I hadn’t really LOST my material, and I really didn’t lose at all, because after all I  DID  get up and write 2 hours early with all good faith that I could save what I wrote. (Now I’ve  learned exactly how to save to the thumb drive. All is well).

    So, everyone, get up and write, no matter what, no matter how. You will have done it and it’s all practice that leads to better results day by day. There’s no loss involved. Rather, there’s the good feeling when you know you did what you said you would do. You have followed through.

    That’s how I felt, driving an hour as always, on Thursdays,  through green farm country, on winding, sometimes tree-lined roads. Out that way, they’re all up early, tending crops or getting ready for haying season. I’m up just about as early, and I’m a writer. So are you.

  68. I didn’t get up early. But I had made a promise to write when I got up and I did. So a step further forward. And it feels good.

  69. For me, waking up two hours early means  getting only 3 hours of sleep every day. 
    I wish life wasn’t this busy. Thanks for the inspiration though!

  70. When I saw the challenge of getting up that early to write, my jaw dropped and I totally dismissed the thought. However, I think it really stems from the fact that I don’t put much value into my writing other thinking that it is a creative outlet. I have a very hectic schedule and already wake early to be sure to have time with Jesus and his word. Ultimately, I think that I am still making excuses. I want to write, because I feel I have something to say and that my words can make a difference but stil suffer from fear of rejection. I think I will begin by taking the suggestion of just MAKING time to write. It will be hard, but I have to BELIEVE that it IS important. Thanks for the challenge and spurring me onward.

  71. On my second day of this challenge I woke with a vision of flood gates bursting. The force of the water exploding over and through the thick cement walls. Words overflowing my mind. Beautiful sentences escaping too quickly to be written.  In my dream state I yelled “freeze frame”. The raging waters representing my words frozen in mid air. I run franticly further down the river and built another dam. Feeling the need to capture every escaping word overwhelming. Fear and confusion over took me as I tried to remember the words so eloquently thought earlier.  A rush of adrenaline waking me fully.   I visualized myself taking the pen and capturing the words within me.  I AM A WRITER.Filled with new found excitement I read your post.  “Get up two hours early and write”    O my, Let me tell you I am not a morning person!  I would try I really would… but we will be driving from Vancouver to Seattle leaving after my husband’s worship practice ,  Arriving at 1 a.m.  Then after an already short night we have to be up early enough to eat the yummy breakfast included in our stay.  Oddly not being a morning person I am a huge fan of breakfast food. Especially when I don’t have to make it. Shortly after drive my Husband to his meetings and return to shower.  A wave of disappointment washed over my excitement.                                                      Wait! Wait! As a mother of four I have had to learn to adapt plans at a moments notice. Life is full of unexpected blessings. New plan. After I check out of the Hotel instead of the anticipated shopping trip.  I can drive to the University campus where my Husband is spending his day in accreditation board meetings.  Curl up in the back of the van and write.  It may not be early but it is out of the usual and time set aside.On my third day of this challenge  I followed the plans formulated on day two.  Under a canopy of evergreens and the promise of sunlight peaking through the ever changing clouds. I slipped into the back of our Van.  Excitement stirring through my veins,  a pad of paper and a pen in my hands.  My first thought was how ironic.  I am sitting in the parking lot of a Universally named “Digipen” preparing to write the old fashion way.  Without sight of an electrical outlet amongst the trees and growing army of ants around me. I had no choice.  My computers old battery no long stays charged. I must stop procrastinating and write. Pen to paper with eight sentences written.  I receive a text.  The wonderful man I married is done early and ready for me to pick him up at the front doors. The waves of disappoint are starting to make me sea sick. Already starting a day behind and wanting to repeat day 3 I was tempted to use the weekend to catch up.  But did not.  I had plans to visit with an old friend Lily whom I haven’t seen for a couple yours.  She knew I was planning to be in Seattle shopping for the day before. So when she asked what I had bought, it gave me the chance to declare that I was a writer. I did it!  The words “I am a writer” spoken.  Followed by her question. What are you writing?  Fear! Back peddling!  I explained that I have always written in my head but I am just beginning to write.  Whoosh.  That was close. I felt like a fraud.  She replies ” You have to meet my tenant. She is a writer too”  Oh no what I have done.  As I am trying to ride the waves of anxiety. Lily picks up the phone and invites her friend up to share lunch with us. I hear Lily say, “You just finished to bad” I felt a slight settling of the motion swaying me.  Then I heard, ” Just come up in a bit for dessert”.   Gulp.
     My faithful husband filled the conversation at the dessert table with stories of interesting people he has meet in his travels. Thank full. I took the opportunity when Lily and my husband where distracted with a different topic to pass  my ipad to Jan “the writer”.  I steered her to the 15 day challenge. Showed her the first 3 posts. Then directed the conversation towards her writing.  All the while thinking to myself how effectively I was guiding the water done the stream, Away from myself.  When Jan finished reading about the challenge, she told me that it was just what she needed.  She had begun to avoid her writing and felt blocked. Wow, here I was concerned about my own insecurities.  God had I plan of his own. For me to pass on the information and encourage a fellow writer. (notice I said fellow writer).   The rest of the day was filled with laughter, discussions of the future and dreams.  Lily is such an encouraging person. She lives her life full and just does what it is she dreams about. 

     Sunday brought I young girl to our home. My multi talented Husband had agreed to help her record and film an audition tape for a very popular musical TV show.  They spent the afternoon taping and editing.  While I sat in my bedroom with the dogs trying to keep them quite.  I listened to her sweet voice fill our home.  Her giggles of joy in between takes.  The hand clap and deep voice of my son loudly echo in the upper hall “take seven”. Her dream being walked out. As well listening to my Son who has just graduated high school experience his chosen profession as a sound engineer.  

    I week-end of conformations. God wants us to dream and he will help us find the way to fulfilment. If we pick up the tools and do it. Wither it is a pen, a voice , the ability to understand technology or the gifted ear to know when is sounds right. 

    Retake of day 3 :Today. I had know intensions of getting up early.  After a full weekend and a late night helping my Husband pack for an early morning business trip. I knew I would have the house completely to myself for the day to write. I had read a post from Jeff  saying he would see us at 5 am.  So when I woke fully at 5 am sharp I had know choice but to follow my dream and write.

    Sorry for long flowing post.  I believe it is time to ask my blog designer daughter to start a blog for me!

    The flood gates have crumbled and words are being captured with a new found pen.

    (My turtle shell has more cracks)

  72. Can I ask you guys a question? How can some of you can rise at 4 in the morning and still function during the day?  Do you go to bed really early? Or is there some other thing that I`m not thinking of?

    It`s not so much the early time that scares me, but I know that whenever I rise before 6:30 I`ll feel like cr*p all day. I won`t wake up and want to sleep for the rest of the day. And in my work I can not afford to be tired.
    It`s not that I don`t want to leave my bed in the morning, it`s the choice between having had a good rest or feeling like I can fall asleep every minute for the whole day. I`m really struggling with this, because I want to make time to work on my comic script and I can surely see the benefit of rising early, but how do you guys do it?

    Any advice would be great!

  73. I am letting fear hold me back. I have two novels that are almost complete. Yes, almost. They’ve been read by others, even other authors, I’ve been told they are good. But I am so afraid of falling on my face or getting horrible reviews, that I haven’t finished them and typed, “the end”. And I know it’s crazy and yet, I’m still letting it happen. I love your calls to action. They are challenging and motivating!

    Please feel free to stop by: Trailing After God

  74. naptime. (Their naptime- I have six children.) every single day. This is my writing time. 2 – 3 hours. I leave the house messy and I just sit here until they wake up.

    I read (stuff like this!) and I write. Now, to work on my laser-focus… (goodbye for now, facebook.)

  75. I SO appreciate how this challenge is set up to be flexible. It may turn out that I am a week, or even two behind each of these days, and now I am “getting it” of how to participate and post, even as a late comer.

    I am on day 3 (initiate) and this is what I posted in my blog: 


    What I did was (4 a.m. groan) hand journal for 30 minutes or so, then highlight a few sentences from several blog posts that stand alone. It was great! I was, am so tired, that in a good way, I found these sentences in that underwater summer kind of mood.

    Slow but sure, you know?

    (whispers: I also practiced signing my name for 20 minutes as if all of my people came to a big book signing)

  76. Jeff, I am almost 60 years old and I’m sitting here reading this post, crying.  You put into words what I told my friend last night, “Please pray for me, I know that I am a writer, but I’ve never been able to say it or to believe it.  I want to believe about myself what God believes about me.”  Over 4 years ago an agent, and not a “little” agent, but a “big” agent, wanted a proposal from me.  I agreed but was so paralyzed by fear I never even contacted him.  A friend of mine is now in contact with that same agent and was telling me about their conversations and my own heart was bursting like a teenager, “Pick me, pick me, pick me!”  You nailed my deepest thoughts and fears and have given me the freedom to pick myself, after all, God has chosen me to write!  That is affirmation enough.  Thank you, Jeff, for “anointing” me as a writer today.

    I AM a writer….there I said it!

  77. Sorry, this will never happen.  I can add another 2 hours at night, but can’t do earlier mornings.  Actually, since my work takes me away afternoons, even getting up my regular time still allows me to write mornings:  I have just substituted writing for many of the distractions that kept me busy before…

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  79. I am Victoria, I promise to share this testimony all over the world once my boyfriend return back to me, and today with all due respect i want to thank DR.ATILA for bringing joy and happiness to my relationship and my family. I want to inform you all that there is a spell caster that is real and genuine. I never believed in any of these things until i loosed my boyfriend, I required help until i found a grate spell caster, And he cast a love spell for me, and he assured me that I will get my boyfriend back in two days after the spell has been cast. two days later, my phone rang, and so shockingly, it was my boyfriend who has not called me for past 4 years now, and made an apology for the heart break, and told me that he is ready to be my back bone till the rest of his life with me. DR.ATILA released him up to know how much i loved and wanted him. And opened his eyes to picture how much we have share together. As I`m writing this testimony right now I`m the most happiest girl on earth and me and my boyfriend is living a happy life and our love is now stronger than how it were even before our break up. So that`s why I promised to share my testimony all over the universe.All thanks goes to DR.ATILA for the excessive work that he has done for me. Below is the email address in any situation you are undergoing a heart break, and I assure you that as he has done mine for me, he will definitely help you too. that is his email address atilahealinghome@yahoo.com

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