There's nothing that has had changed my life more than writing 1000 words a day. Writing for an hour a day can improve the quality of your life, make you a happier person and enable you to accomplish things you once thought were impossible. This keystone habit has helped me write multiple books, hundreds of articles, and given me an opportunity to reflect on what truly matters to me. Writing makes you the author of your story, gives you the ability to shape your reality, and can teach you everything you need to know about life.
Everybody can benefit from spending a little bit of time every single day writing. Even if you have no interest in becoming a professional writer or publishing a book, writing can do wonders for every area of your life. It's a beautiful gift to give yourself.
Don't Start Your Day on the Internet
If you wake up in the morning, reach for your phone, scroll through Facebook, and check your email, you start the day with a self-imposed handicap and a cognitive deficit. All those little decisions reduce your willpower, result in decision fatigue, and prevent you from saving your mental bandwidth for your most important work. It's also hard to hear the sound of your creative voice when you start the day with a thousand things competing for your attention. If you want to avoid all this, don't start your day on the internet.
Design the Right Environment
All of our behavior is the byproduct of the environments that make up our lives. Activation energy is the number of steps require to follow through on an action you want to take. If you reduce the activation energy, you'll increase the odds of following through.
- If you place your writing materials on your desk the night before, you'll be more likely to follow through.
- If you open up your writing software and it's the first thing you see when you flip your computer open, you'll be more likely to follow through.
The impact of environment on behavior is so profound that I included an entire chapter on it in An Audience of One: Reclaiming Creativity for Its Own Sake. If you design the right environment, your writing habit will be automatic.
Create on a Schedule
Professionals create on a schedule and amateurs create when they're inspired. If you create on a schedule, you'll take the pressure off yourself to produce something brilliant. Your schedule doesn't have to be intense or crazy. It could be one focused hour a day of uninterrupted creation time. Or it could be as simple as three sentences every day. If you create on a schedule, all of it will eventually start to add up.
Measure Your Progress
If you create on a schedule, you'll experience visible progress, which is one of our greatest motivators. When you see a chain of x's on a calendar, or even something as simple as a list with a date and number of words you wrote, you will be motivated. The basic guideline for measuring your progress is to make sure it's something you can control.
Sidenote: If you're struggling to be prolific with your writing, I'd recommend Ryder Caroll's Bullet Journal Method. Even as somebody who has been writing for more than ten years, I've found it to be invaluable to my creative practice. You can also listen to a full interview with him here.
Use Distraction Free Tools
Word processors like Google Docs and Microsoft word are terrible for writing because they're full of bells and whistles that make it easy to procrastinate. The goal of a writing session isn't formatting the text, change fonts, or fix typos. The purpose of your writing session is to get words down on paper. These are my favorite distraction-free writing tools:
- A Notebook: If you want to be a more prolific writer you should always carry a notebook. It's not only a platform for your imagination, but it's also the most effective distraction-free tool you have as a writer because nothing else is competing for your attention.
- Notion: Notion has replaced all of my other tools. It's not just a fantastic distraction-free writing tool. It serves as an all in one workspace where you can track your word counts, document your ideas, and even manage a full editorial calendar.
The biggest key to managing your attention is to reduce the competition for it. And the best way to do that is with distraction-free writing tools.
Quit or Drastically Reduce Your Use of Social Media
To prepare for my upcoming interview with Cal Newport about his new book, Digital Minimalism, I'm taking 30 days off of social media. It's been six days, and I'm becoming more aware of the opportunity costs of using social media. It keeps us from spending time with people and on things that matter most to us. One of the easiest ways to write more is to quit social media.
If you want to write more in 2019, you might enjoy our 6-week Fearless Writer's Workshop which is designed to help you get out of your own way.
Read Before You Write
Trying to write without reading is like trying to cook without any ingredients. The bulk of my ideas for things to write about come from the things I read and this is something I've noticed all prolific writers have in common. If you want to become a prolific writer become a voracious reader.
Writing is a gift to yourself. It gives you clarity about what's important to you. It can help you heal trauma and give you a reason to get up in the morning. The habit of writing every day won't just change your life; it will alter your destiny. Give it a try.