Why You Need to Write Every Day

Write Every DayFor the longest time, the writing life intimidated me. I thought of myself as a “writer,” but I was afraid to claim that moniker in public.

After all, writers wrote all the time, and I didn’t. I felt like a fake. Maybe you have, too. Then, I learned the secret to prolific writing:

Don’t write a lot. Just write often.

Spending five hours on a Saturday writing isn’t nearly as valuable as spending 30 minutes a day every day of the week. Especially when you’re just getting started. The idea is repetition — developing a discipline of showing up, making this a priority, and working through The Resistance.

If you want to get this writing thing down, you need to start writing every day. No questions asked, no exceptions made. After all, this isn’t a hobby we’re talking about; it’s a discipline.

What makes a real habit

It should come as no surprise that habits practiced once a week aren’t habits at all. They’re obligations. Or maybe, at best, cute little hobbies.

And let’s not kid ourselves here. If you’re doing something once a week, it’s probably only a matter of time before you stop doing it altogether. The only thing you need to know about writing is that you must do it. The rest is just showing up.

Jack Cheng says that 30 Minutes a Day is enough to form a new habit. He shares in his post:

When mastery is the goal, spending an exorbitant number of hours in one sitting will likely lead to burnout. We don’t go to the gym expecting to put on 20 pounds of muscle in a single, day-long workout. Instead, we do several short workouts a week, spread out over months.

Our bodies need time to heal; our muscles time to grow. And the same goes for that muscle inside your skull. When trying to develop a new skill, the important thing isn’t how much you do; it’s how often you do it.

Learning to fail

If there is a second part of this lesson for writing daily, it’s this: become comfortable with failure.

Another helpful resource on this is Behance’s “10 Laws of Productivity” article (where I found the reference to Jack Cheng’s post) on The 99 Percent website.

Here are some excerpts:

Trial and error is an essential part of any creative’s life. As Ze Frank says, usually when we execute an idea for the first time, it kinda sucks. The important thing is to synthesize the knowledge gained during the process to refine the idea, and create a new-and-improved version…

With projects that require a serious infusion of creative juice – developing a new business plan, writing a novel, or just learning a new skill – it’s incredibly important to maintain momentum. Just as when you run everyday, the exercise gets easier and easier, the same thing happens with your brain.

Stimulate it regularly each day, and those juices start to flow more freely.

Get started now

This was the best advice I’ve received all weekend. Of course, blogging here forces me to write nearly every day, but I’m learning that isn’t enough.

I’m opening back up a writing project that I put on the shelf a few months ago. It’s time to stop treating it as a hobby and turn it into a habit.

What about you? Is there something you’ve been putting off? Time to pick it back up? Share in the comments.

Don’t wait until tomorrow. Get started now. Spend 30 minutes today taking it one step further in the development process. So what if it sucks? You need to get those juices flowing.

Then, do the same thing tomorrow. And the next day. And the one after that. And so on.

Recommended reading:

Do you write every day? Why/why not?

93 thoughts on “Why You Need to Write Every Day

  1. thanks for the encouragement to keep going. I am striving to blog once per week, and also have a book outline that I need to get off the shelf and keep plugging away on.

  2. I agree with this for sure; I try to do 1,000 words a day of creative writing, and, whenever possible, a blog post as well. Being out of town and just getting back today have limited my ability on the last one, but the creative writing has been coming along well. Thanks for the good article!

  3. I’m taking a day to rest up, Jeff . . . but tomorrow, I’m back to it . . . thanks for this reminder.  

  4. I cannot remember if it was Hemingway or Steinbeck who made the same suggestion.  Very good post and a needed reminder for me.

  5. Excellent post, great suggestions! I love your phrase “after all, this isn;t a hobby we’re talking about; it’s  discipline.”  Those words ring so true – even if my passion to write is with me every day, it requires commitment and discipline to be a writer.  I try to write 1000 words a day, but on those days where life completely gets in the way, I force myself to write at least one sentence, and then try to nurture it into another 250-500 words. Some days it works, so days, well, not so much.  But as you said, the key lies in the frequency of the practice of the craft.

  6. Jeff, Although I think your advice about writing something every day can be helpful — maybe even necessary — for many writers, I do not write every day. I’m a talented writer. So are you. Most talented writers I know — or have read — insist that waiting for inspiration is not a good thing to do. I wait for inspiration. Most talented writers I know — or have read — insist that one should write through a first draft without stopping, and then edit the completed draft. I edit as I write, sometimes sentence-by-sentence, sometimes word-by-word. I consider writing much like working with wet clay. Most talented writers I know — or have read — insist that writing work that sucks is better than not writing at all. I believe that most of the writing I find on the Web sucks, and that many writers might have seen better to post their work only after rewriting and polishing it. (As well, I agree with Ted Sturgeon’s 90% rule.) Many talented writers I know — or have read — seem to enjoy giving writing advice. I think most such advice — if contemplated for too long a time — ties creative muscles in metaphorical knots. I’m new to your website. I admire your writing style, your persistence, and your dedication. But as far as writing advice is concerned, the best advice of yours I’ve read is to write something dangerous. Writing about writing — and I, too, am guilty of this sin (e.g. this very paragraph) — is safe.

  7. Super tips, Jeff.  I don’t write every day because I’ve been too busy revising which IMO isn’t the same for me as writing.  I actually miss writing (from scratch, that is) and am itching to start a new book.  But I need to revise the one I finished a few months back and now send out query letters.  It’s the part of the “process” I don’t really enjoy that much!

  8. The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine. Mike Murdock  

    I try to write something everyday. Even if it will never reach ‘print’ it helps to disentangle the random thoughts and feelings spinning around in the thought blender. 

    Perhaps I will use my random thoughts somewhere or not. That is not the point. Its processing the dance steps that Daddy, Spirit and Jesus are revealing. 

    Today I am conducting a funeral for a friend. Writing has helped me grab the thoughts and feelings. I hope and pray ‘the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart’ will move others into a closer dance. 

    Thanks for the post Jeff, love your work!

  9. I think you hit it right when talk about writing everyday to form habits. I write everyday because I love to write, also because I want to get the word out about my passion as soon as possible.

  10. Jeff

    Agree totally – you absolutely need to write every day. 

    The latest neuroscience confirms that this is the ‘optimum’ way to practice and get better too – if you’ve not read The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle I highly recommend it.  Not only is Coyle a good writer, he tells a ‘good story’ – the importance of a brain substance called myelin in attaining high levels of excellence in your chosen discipline.

    Guess how you generate myelin?  Lots of daily practice.  (And daily practice that’s of a specific type – Coyle calls it Deep Practice).


    1. hi paul. i will check that out. you would know, my friend. the same goes with playing an instrument. there is no way to work around the importance of daily discipline.

  11. I’ve made writing part of my daily routine. More importantly, I’ve come to realize the type of environments that make me productive and I know when I tend to do my best writing (as in what time of day). Still, I can do better. 

    As for other habits that I’ve been trying to regain… Going to the gym. So far, I’m on a 6 day streak – I’ve hit the gym for 2-3 hours a day. It both hurts and feels good at the same time. Really, it’s more about regaining energy to have more hours (or feel like I do) in the day. Less energy drinks, more natural energy if that makes any sense. 

  12. A long time ago, I realized the need to write every single day but somehow I lost the habit. Then, I thought I could regain the habit by just binging hours and hours into short little weekends…. it’s not fair to the craft of writing and it turns out that writing is not nearly as good or as enjoyable as it is in small spurts.

    Though there’s a long way before I get back to the daily writing schedule (I need to quit my second job for one), I am determined to slash my schedule (and physical things) down to a minimum so that I have room for the things that I enjoy. 🙂

    Great post 😀

  13. What’s amazing about writing is that you don’t have to write just for “the project” you’re working on.  I feel like any kind of writing-anything that helps you put pen to paper and get your thoughts and ideas into words, is helpful and gets the creative juices flowing. Thanks for taking time to write this, Jeff. 

  14. I actually blogged about this back in July.  You’re right.  A writer writes every day!  https://lialondon.net/archives/106

  15. I discovered that I can get a decent 300-500 words during my lunch break in a crowded cafeteria.  Going for 5 days this week… the outcome will be worth the odd looks.

  16. Jeff, I appreciate the simplicity you bring to the issue. It’s a mindset, and about priorities.  Most people say that don’t have time to business blog, but do have time for TV, and other non-income producing activities.  It’s very interesting.

    So let’s say that your priorities are there, then you’ve made a great point.  When I am writing at my best, it’s when I do it often, overcoming my writing fears and lifes little (or big) obstacles.

    Terrific post Jeff.  Thanks for the push!  -Adam

  17. Great thoughts.  I journal, and I try to do so everyday.  There are days that I miss.  often my blog posts come out of my journalings.  And sometimes I mix it up, writing poetry or stories, etc.  Thanks for the great tips!

  18. Flannery O’Connor had a great viewpoint on this. She wrote every morning for two hours, and advised her young writer friends to do the same.  ‘You need to show up in the same place every day,’ she said,’ because if a good idea comes along it will know where to find you.’

  19. Since starting up a blog two months ago I’ve gotten in the habit of writing for it just about everyday, which has been a great habit for me to get into. Now if I could just get in the habit of writing more creatively again…

  20. I haven’t been working on my book since I’ve moved to San Diego.  There was just too much with moving, trying to find work, and trying to find my place on the weekend to be thinking about writing anything that really matters.  I just wrote a good post on my blog, but other than that, I decided to keep a small journal that I leave in my closet because I see it every day.  I tend to write maybe 2 to 7 times a day in it.  It mostly consists of dreams, the long entries do, but I write about almost everything.  I feel like it keeps my engines revving. 

  21. As a stay at home mom I started a photography business, and when I’m working I LOVE it I can’t stop taking pictures or printing them out. I have such a passion for it but knowing the time it takes to build my business, I tend to become inactive. This week I have been planning on throwing in the towel on the business. Last night I even “tweeted” I am going to quit on the business and give up on the dream. 
    After reading your post and following all the links to each site/resource, I’ve decided to give my self one more chance. My first plan is to do something, however small, everyday. I will commit to work no less than 30 minutes and no more than a couple of hours each day. I never thought of doing this but I can see how the creative juices are allowed to start moving without stoping everyday life.

    Thank you for taking the time to put all of this information together. I’m sure it’s not a coincidence  that I read this today, right after asking God to show me what His will would be for this part of my life.

    I will jump from the cliff into the world of faith again and see if smarter is better than longer. 

  22. I love this post. The part about writing for three minutes a day as opposed to five hours over the weekend is what I liked best. Earlier I thought that it is best to write when you are in the mood to write, but to really hone the skill within, it is best, as you say, to write everyday whether you want to or not. 
    The “Jerry Seinfeld” link was wonderful, too! Thanks! 

  23. When I started writing a couple of years ago, I read the book Writing Brave and Free, and the authors said to write at least 10 min. every day, precisely to create the habit of writing.  I follow that rule still – usually ;).  When I find I’m not writing or meeting daily goals, I return to the expectation to write for just ten minutes.  Often I end up writing for longer, and I get back on track!

  24. I really take this to heart..I have been writing everyday for five months and now it is a habit.  I don’t write hours and hours, but usually between 20 minutes to an hour a day depending on what the topic is.  

  25. Amazing advice, Jeff. Pretty much every meaningful thing I’ve achieved in my life so far, has been through daily commitment and being determined to stick it out no matter the circumstance. Your success as a writer and a person depends upon how you handle your bad days.

    All the best,
    Josh Lipovetsky

  26. It really is a great post. I have seen that painters take on this same challenge, to paint a little each day, and I too am trying to apply the idea to my writing. 

  27. I been writing journals pretty much everyday at goodnightjournal.com but my writing skill does not seem to be improving. 🙁 any book recommendations? 

  28. Hi Jeff,

    I am not a native English person and my writing skills are not even of the amateur standard. Because of my inability to write my thoughts in English, I often feel helpless. Can you recommend me, how to improve my writing skills . . . .!


    1. Dear Saad, I don’t know whether you still have the problem with your English but if you do the answer i.e. simple 1 Listen to radio BBC in English 2 Read English books and 3, watch english /american TV. You will soon find your english improving then get writing and have a friend or colleague to edit it. Good Luck

  29. This is great advice and I started writing daily about a week ago. Currently I have problem of ideas flowing into my mind and hope regular writing will fix the issue. When I write I also try to integrate the new words or phrases I learned into meaningful sentences.

  30. In case no one believes this, I’m almost a year into Writing Every Day.

    What’s been perhaps the most exciting part is what has happened that I didn’t expect. I thought I’d just be “journaling” and “blogging” but I’ve turned the new habit into a MACHINE. I’m now the one who gets it done–and who gets it done everyday. In fact, I called it a challenge in the beginning, but now it’s just The New Normal. I just do it. It’s just part of my day. Automatically.

    Jeff, what might be interesting is to hear from your writer fans who have managed to get back into the writing habit and see where it’s taken them or what it has achieved for them. I’d be there are a variety of successes and many unexpected.

    Thanks for posting!

  31. ok I have a short story that I am working on. The leader of our writer’s group suggested that I seriously COMMIT to this. I do want this to be more than a hobby. Take it to where ever it is to express what it is to express. Thank you for your encouragement.

  32. I always find this the most challenging part. I want to write, I have many novel ideas floating in my mind which I want to write. But making a time to sit and write everyday, by far it has been a very intimidating task. That is really killing my productivity too 🙁

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  34. Thank you for inspiring and encouraging me. I like writing, because writing can reduce my pressure and make me happy. Incidentally, I am trying to provide my English writing skills, therefore I prefer I can be a good writer by practicing writing every day!!

  35. Great article! And i completely agree with what you said regarding quality over quantity. I’ve been looking at what I can write on but have been having difficulties. After searching online, I came across a website called WriteOften.com. Do you have any thoughts of it? Apparently they publish topics weekly and you can write and publish your story, and have others critique it or give you feedback on ways to improve your writing.

  36. Hi
    Once a person develops the habit of writing daily then skipping the schedule becomes a pain in ass for him and he feels he misses something that day.
    But the real challenge is to follow discipline and avoid missing even a single day of not writing at least 700 to 1500 words.
    After up to a level one can’t rely on weekly posting schedule on his blog and he has to provide more quality contents with enhanced frequency.
    Thanks a lot for sharing such a wonderful post on this topic

  37. Hi Jeff, I’d like to reference this blog post in a piece of academic writing, but I can’t seem to find a publish date. I checked the comments and figured it would have to be around 2010/11, but a specific date would be really helpful. I’d not heard of you before a google search on this topic for my essay, but I really liked this post and fully intend on reading more of your work. Thank you 🙂

  38. Thanks for sharing some truly awesome advice Jeff!

    This is my first visit to you excellent blog! I found you while studying over
    at Jane Sheeba’s excellent blog!

    First of all, I really love where you advise us to quickly become comfortable
    with failure in the beginning!

    That’s a hurdle that some of us just never seem to be able to clear!

    That’s some great advice and I definitely plan on putting it into
    practice asap!

    Oh BTW, big congrats on first successfully publishing four books
    and on reaching “best sellers” status!

    That’s a huge accomplishment!Now I’ve gotta go practice some writing,
    so that I can get better!LOL!

  39. Thanks for sharing this. I write for my blog multiple times a week, but I’m finding that I really miss writing fiction, which I haven’t done in ages. I think I’ll need to start playing around with that again on a more consistent basis.

  40. I have to admit there is logic to this.

    It’s not like we can turn into the jolly green Hulk at a drop of emotion and smash our issues in one fell swoop. I have Day One on my MacBook that interrupts me on a daily basis to write something whether it is just a note or a train of thought.

    Then I also spend 30 minutes a day with intense writing.

    Kind of like warming up by walking around the track, before you start jogging, until you get into a zone where you can go all out for a certain amount of time. Even the world fastest man can’t run all out 24/7.

  41. I found this post (again) after reading Jeff’s latest on Medium (“Forget About Being a Good Writer (And Do This Instead)“) where he writes that writers need to write.

    Better still, write a little Every Single Day. I thought to myself, “Wow, this is such an evergreen post, it’s still so important. Then I realized that I commented on it four years ago.

    Just in case there are any doubters out there, just listen to Jeff: Write Every Day. It doesn’t matter how much, just get into the habit. It’s like jogging but also training for a marathon: you’re not going to run 26 miles on Friday to train for the marathon on Saturday. No, start early (i.e. now is a good time) and just keep at it. You’ll slowly (yes, sorry, slowly) improve.

    That’s it. That’s the big secret.

    Four years later and I have four books, three more in production, and I’m a full-time writer. See, it works?

    Thanks for keeping the conversation going, Jeff.

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