July 16

How Writing 1000 Words a Day Can Change Your Life

In 2013, I wrote a piece about how writing 1000 words a day changed my life, leading to a six-figure book deal with a publisher and becoming the basis for An Audience of One: Reclaiming Creativity for Its Own Sake. Creative habits are the compound interest of creative success. 

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that Im aware of, no shortcut. Reading is the creative center of a writer’s life

. -Stephen King 

The entire writing process becomes much easier when you schedule writing time on your calendar and make it a habit. But the benefits extend beyond producing a piece of writing or a blog post. 

  • It gives you a reason to get up in the morning
  • You don’t feel the pressure of having to produce something amazing because you know you’ll be back the next day

The beauty of writing as a way to express your creativity is that it requires very little upfront investment:

  • You can do it anywhere
  • All you need is a pen, piece of paper, or a laptop
  • It costs nothing

When I interviewed him in 2013,  Julien Smith  was an experienced writer who had one of the most popular blogs on the Internet, had written a bestseller, and worked with Seth Godin on The Domino Project. The key to his success was writing 1000 words a day. 

Writing 1000 words a day is a habit with minimal investment and an exponential ROI whether you’re a blogger, freelance writer, professional writer or doing academic writing. 

1. Writing 1000 Words a Day Leads to Visible Progress

Beginner writers have an all-or-nothing mentality when it comes to seeing results. They focus on the outcome instead of the process. Because they measure their progress with metrics they can’t control, they think they aren’t making any. 

Visible progress is one of our most significant sources of motivation to keep doing something. By measuring progress with metrics you can control, you build creative momentum and stay motivated to accomplish your goals..

If writing 1000 words a day feels too ambitious, unrealistic, use another metric to measure your progress. 

  • Measure the number of consecutive days you follow through on your writing routine
  • Track the total number of hours you spend writing every week.

It is essential to show your brain that you’re making visible progress if you want to stay motivated to keep writing. 

Writing 1000 Words a Day Gives You the Power to Tell Your Story

The Benefits of a Daily Writing Habit
Photographer: Joanna Kosinska | Source: Unsplash

Your life is a story of events, circumstances, experiences, and emotions. But who tells this story? 

  • Your parents, peers, and society?
  • Gurus and experts you put on pedestals?
  • Internet trolls who hate something you have written?

The habit of writing 1000 words a day makes YOU the author of your life story. You have to decide what to leave, what to edit, and what to trash.

Instead of doing life by default, you do it by design and tap the power to shape your reality. 

2. Writing 1000 Words a Day Increases Your Productivity

Writing 1000 words a day is a form of deep work that requires all your attention, and forces you to avoid multitasking. Having clear goals is a flow trigger. And by having a target number of words or specific amount of writing time, you trigger a flow state, which leads to a massive increase in productivity. 

3.Writing 1000 Words a Day Makes You Happier

If you take the time to write every day, you can disconnect from the world around you and indulge in solitude. Even if you only create a short window of uninterrupted creation time, you will find that a writing practice can be incredibly therapeutic.

Professor and author James Pennebaker from the University of Texas has researched and written extensively about the impact that writing can have on healing trauma. In one of his studies, he found that participants experienced the following:

  • Long-term improvement in mood and well-being indicators compared to participants who wrote about control issues.
  • Beneficial effects on immune function, including T-helper cell growth, antibody response to Epstein-Barr virus, and antibody response to hepatitis B vaccines
  • Improvements in grades
  • Find new jobs faster after layoffs and write about the experience.

This simple habit, which takes less than an hour a day, can make us happier, healthier, and more successful.

4. Writing 1000 Words a Day Changes Other Areas of Your Life

Keystone habits are powerful because they have the potential to change habits in every other area of your life.

Shortly after I started writing 1,000 words a day, I read more books. What followed was a meditation habit, and finally, this 8-step daily routine helped me read 100 books a year and write several articles and two books.

How to Develop a Writing Routine 

Your environment profoundly impacts your happiness, creativity, and productivity. If you design the right environment, you won’t need to rely on willpower to develop your writing routine. 

1. Reduce Activation Energy 

The most important step in designing the right environment is to reduce activation energy, i.e., the number of steps you need to take to act on the desired behavior. In the case of developing a daily writing habit, the following four steps are the necessary activation energy:

  • Find something to write with
  • Find Something to Write on
  • Decide where you want to write
  • Decide how long you will write

You can reduce activation energy by doing the following: 

  • Choose what you want to write the night before
  • Decide in advance what you will need: a computer, notebook, etc.
  • Select a place where you write in advance.
  • Set up all your writing tools the night before. If you’re using a computer, open a Word document or a distraction-free command prompt so that it’s the first thing you see when you open the laptop.

The goal is to eliminate as many steps between you and the desired action as possible. Although these activities may seem small, the fewer steps between you and your desired habit, the more likely you are to perform the habit.

2. Always Carry Notebook 

I have said before that you should always have a notebook with you. Our ideas do not come according to a fixed schedule: Sometimes, they come when we are in the middle of an in-depth conversation with a friend. 

Other times they come when we are stuck in a traffic jam or on a 9-mile stretch of road. A notebook is a platform for your imagination. It allows you to sow seeds for your ideas and the person you ultimately want to become.

3. Utilize Success Accelerants

A blank page can be scary for anyone who doesn’t write every day. Fortunately, the solution is simple: instead of starting with a blank page, start with a quote or something someone else has written.

Why does it work? It allows you to harness the power of the success accelerants. The brain progresses towards a goal based on the perceived distance to the goal. When the gap gets smaller, progress accelerates.

For example, if the quotation or passage you start your writing hour with is 25 words, the perceived distance from the target is only 975 words. This simple idea was crucial to developing my writing habit. This is just one of the many reasons I read before I write.

4. Read Before You Write 

Writing without reading is a bit like trying to cook without ingredients. At best, the stove is covered with pots and pans. At worst, the house burns down.

The overwhelming majority of my ideas for articles result from something I have read. If you read before you write, you prime your brain. You give yourself ingredients. This will make it much easier for you to write 1000 words a day.

5. Schedule Your Writing Time on Your Calendar

Calendars are more effective than to do lists. When you put something in a calendar, it is more likely to get done. When you put something in your calendar, it goes from something in your head that you want to do to a time-bound commitment. 


Reduce the Scope, but Stick To Your Schedule

If you’re a slow writer and you reduce the scope but stick to the schedule. 

  • Instead of writing 1,000 words a day, you write 500.
  • Instead of reading a whole book, you read 10 pages.

Reducing the scope, but sticking to your schedule helps you maintain your momentum and keep making progress.  It’s easy to forget that small actions add up over time.

  • 10 pages a day for 30 days, and you read a book.
  • One paragraph a day for a week, and you write essays and blog posts.

Small actions create momentum. Snowballs become avalanches. We forget that we have the opportunity to plant seeds every day, and some of these seeds will bear fruit. Our job as creators is to plant seeds. With each small act of creative expression, a page, a paragraph, a brushstroke, we lay the foundation for something greater.

How Long Does It Take To Write a 1000 Word Blog Post?

Three main variables determine how long it takes to write a 1000 word blog post?

1. Are You an Experienced Writer?

Like any other skill, writing 1000 words a day is something you have to learn. The more you practice, the better you’ll get. The better you get, the faster you’ll write 1000 words.

2. How Distracted Are You?

 Will  take longer to write 1000 words if you’re caving into digital distractions. If you are constantly shifting tasks, switching between browser tabs, and checking email or social media, it will take much longer than it would otherwise. If you want to increase your attention span, eliminate the competition for it.

  • Block digital distractions using a tool like Rescuetime or Freedom
  • Use a distraction-free writing tool
  • Clear your desk of everything when you’re writing. 

If you do these three things, it will take you less time to write 1000 words.

3. Are You in a Flow State?

According to Steven Kotler, when people are in a flow state, they experience a 500% increase in productivity. A couple of hours in flow lead to more productive hours throughout the day.

My average writing speed for 1000 words is 45 mins when I’m not in flow. But when I’m in a flow state, I can write 1000 words in 20 minutes 

When you’re in flow, you go from zero to dangerous. 

Overcoming Resistance 

All of us who write face resistance. Resistance comes in many forms:

  • Self-judgment.
  • A voice of self-doubt.
  • The vicious critic who leaves us a 1-star review.

To this day, the only review of mine I can quote by heart is from the woman who said, “I hope this guy is a better surfer than he is a writer.” Dani Shapiro echoed my feelings in her fantastic book Still Writing:

Press many of us– including those you’d think might have moved beyond this– and you will discover that we can quote you the most painful passages from our worst reviews. We can give you a list of critics who are dismissive of our work.

Action is the antidote to resistance. With every other word we get on the page, we slay the dragon of resistance until we lay it out and chop off its head.

Amber Rae once told me: “You want to accumulate pages, not judgments. You have to fight the dragon of resistance every day, but if you keep coming back, you will be able to take it out quickly. So fill your pages with crappy first sentences and crappy first drafts.

A daily writing habit is one of the simplest ways to reclaim creativity for its own sake and do wonders for your writing process 


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