How to Really Get Your Writing Done

Everyone wants to write a book, but few people ever do. Why is this? Because we writers tend to focus on the wrong thing.

How to Really Get Your Writing Done

Most people who want to write a book start with goals, and that’s not how it works. If you want to write a book some day, you need to start writing today. In other words, don’t set out to write a book. Set out to become a regular writer.

If you want to write a book some day, you need to start writing today.

Jeff Goins

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That’s the secret. It’s not the goals that make us writers. It’s the habits. Anyone can say they want to write. It’s another thing to actually be a writer. What’s the difference? Habits. An amateur talks about the work. A pro does the work.

I’ve written before about this, so I won’t belabor the point here, but you need to focus more on the process than the results. This is especially true when you’re getting started as a writer. Goals are good, but habits are better.

Don’t misunderstand me. I want you to achieve your goals and get the results you desire. But what gets you there is the process. How you do this matters a lot.

So what does that mean for you, the aspiring author who said this year was going to be different, this time you were actually going to finish a book? There are three things you need.

1. Routines: When and where you write

Routines are what make a writer a writer. A routine is the way you approach your work, and every successful writer has one. A routine includes when and where you write. It should be consistent and replicable so you can focus on the writing itself instead of finding a time and a place to write.

No two routines are alike. You have to find what works for you. Is it writing 10 minutes a day, like Shaunta Grimes does? Or 500 words a day as I do? Do you write best in the morning or at night? Find something that works for you and do it over and over again.

Don’t set out to write a book. Set out to become a regular writer.

Jeff Goins

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To begin establishing a routine, ask yourself these two questions:

  • Where will you write every day?
  • When will you write every day?

Imagine what it looks like for you to be sitting down, doing your writing. Where are you? What time is it? How do you feel? Then, do everything you can to actually create that scene on a daily basis.

2. Systems: How you get the writing done

In addition to routines, you need a system. A system is simply the way that you do the writing. Do you use MS Word, your phone, or some other tool — maybe a notebook? Do you light a candle? Drink a cup of coffee? This is all your system.

Again, every writer has a unique system; but the essentials of any good system is that it’s simple and effective.

I write in a distraction-free tool called Bear and follow a system I developed called The 3-Bucket System to break my writing time into ideas, drafts, and edits.

3. Deadlines: What it takes to finish on time

The only thing that really gets the writing done is a deadline. A deadline includes a word count and an actual date when the writing will be due.

With a blog, that maybe once a day, or once a week. If weekly, it should be on the same day of the week at the same time. Make it something your readers can expect of you. If it’s a book, it needs to be delivered on time to the audience or publisher.

The only thing that really gets the writing done is a deadline.

Jeff Goins

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Think about your next writing project. What is the scope of it? How long will it be? Whose it for? When will you know that you’re done?

Set a deadline, or series of deadlines for various drafts if it’s a more in-depth piece. Then decide on a word count, or at least a range, and get to writing.

If you don’t define the end ahead of time, you’ll never reach it.

Going deeper with writing routines, systems, and deadlines

This is what it takes to become a regular writer, and eventually an author. Consistent routines, simple systems, and regular deadlines. These are the tools you need to do your job.

And before you know it, you will have developed a regular writing habit that can then be applied to larger writing projects, like actually finishing a book.

If you’d like more help with this, I’d love to invite you to a masterclass where I’m teaching how to use routines, systems, and deadlines to get your writing done — and then how to turn that into a book.

Come with questions, and I’ll do everything I can to help you get unstuck and start writing more. It’s totally free, but you have to register to get access to the training.

Click here to learn more and register at no cost.

What’s your biggest struggle with getting your writing done? Share in the comments.

17 thoughts on “How to Really Get Your Writing Done

  1. Pushing back self-imposed deadlines because of fear that my writing is not good enough & will get rejected again.

  2. Hey Jeff! I loved this short simple read that gave me a good reminder of where I am. Being damn inconsistent which is my biggest issue. I know about all this, but I took notes of a few things that simplified my thoughts around this.

    Thanks ?

  3. Very true. The most important thing is to start writing now and not later. But I also think we need to scheme a plan presented into goals that are achievable. That is the thing. I fully agree with you about deadlines

  4. Thank you for this article, I needed to read it. I had some personal issues come up that derailed not only my writing but my confidence that I could write this book at all. I just spoke to the people who are helping me publish, and one thing they suggested too was to find writing prompts to get my brain and writing habit going again. So one of my helpers is going to randomly send me writing prompts via text and I can write for however long on them. Another suggestion they had is to write stories that might not make it into the final version, but just write them down to get ideas out of your head onto paper. I am horrible with routines as I work from home and, who needs a schedule, right? Wrong! So, thanks for the quick and dirty rundown of how to get into a writing habit.

  5. All that is left for us is to do the work: we should be driven with a conviction about life and destiny. This not to amass acolades but a blessing to someone.

  6. A few more words of wisdom from these writers:

    “If you want to be a writer — stop talking about it and sit down and write!”
    — Jackie Collings

    “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”
    — Richard Bach

    “Nobody ever committed suicide while reading a good book, but many have while trying to write one.”
    — Robert Byrne

    “Only amateurs say that they write for their own amusement. Writing is not an amusing occupation. It is a combination of ditch-digging, mountain-climbing, treadmill and childbirth. Writing may be interesting, absorbing, exhilarating, racking, relieving. But amusing? Never!”
    — Edna Ferber

    “Write without pay until somebody offers pay. If nobody offers within three years, the candidate may look upon this circumstance with the most implicit confidence as the sign that sawing wood is what he was intended for.”
    — Mark Twain

  7. Its really good to read about something like these, just like for me an aspiring writer your blog and messages here are a big help to guide and give me inspiration to continue in progress in writing whats on my mind and heart.. I really believe that if someone wants to write a story he should start writing his own story. thanks… godbless

  8. Hey Jeff,

    I wanted to write books for my two blogs for long.

    But I was struggling to write two posts in a week for my two blogs because of the shortage of time. Writing a book was a dream.

    Then I decided to get up 6 am instead of 8 am and set half an hour aside in the morning for writing a book.

    Within two months, I have finished a book writing for one of my blog. Now are planing to write another one.

    So, as you discussed in this post, setting a time block and a deadline really worked for me.

    However, thank you for sharing your thoughts.


  9. Each time I visit your blog, it’s a pure inspiration to me to read your posts. They empower me to do more and write regularly, every day. Thank you.

  10. My biggest struggle is feeling confident about the ideas I come up with. That holds me back from writing. I know in reality I should just write anyway but it has become an obstacle I find difficult to get past.

  11. When I write it feels like I am not writing something new, maybe I’m just reproducing something that I had previously read. I’m writing a story but you know, like Helen Keller too wrote one and got accused of plagiarism. I’m so afraid whether I’m creating or just reproducing. Please help me with this.

  12. I wanna write everyday. I’m following your 500 words per day plan. It works very well for me. Few months back, I couldn’t even write 100 words per day but now I hit the 500 daily. Thanks Jeff.

  13. Great article! I think first thing in the morning could work for me. At night I’m tired, stressed and can’t focus. I guess I should build the habit of going to bed early so I can get up at 5 am and work on my writing before the day begins 🙂

  14. I’ve done NaNoWriMo a few times, so the 500 words per day is familiar to me. Doing it for 30 days was challenging. Doing it ongoing will really take some discipline. I think it’s a mental thing of making it a part of my day. I think I can, I think I can…

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