Write Every Day: How to Meet Your Daily Writing Goals

Write Every Day: How to Meet Your Daily Writing Goals

If you still have doubts about whether you should be writing every day, it’s time to kick them to the curb.

Writer after established writer gives the same advice: to build your writing skills, you need to stretch them on a daily basis.

Stephen King says you should write every day until you meet a predetermined word count. Of course, it doesn’t have to be 2,000 words, but you have to start somewhere.

Author Bill O’Hanlon recommends starting by writing for 15 minutes a day. And this doesn’t mean spending 15 minutes staring at a blank screen or rewriting that first sentence for the 15th time. It means making a genuine effort to write, whether it’s starting the next chapter of your novel or simply freewriting.

Whether you write to a particular word count goal or choose a time limit, you need to find a strategy that works for you. Just remember: it doesn’t matter which method you pick as long as you use it.

Create a habit of writing every day

While “just sit down and write” is common advice, creating a habit of writing every day can be challenging for different reasons. Some writers struggle to find time to write creatively between unpredictable schedules, full-time jobs or families.

First, acknowledge your time or energy constraints — the size of your canvas, as James Clear calls it. Then, work within them to train yourself to write, using strategies like freewriting, creative rituals and eliminating all distractions.

Make tomorrow’s first step simple

Starting to write each day can be the hardest part, but you can set yourself up for success with a little preparation at the end of each day.

One strategy is to stop writing mid-sentence at the end of every day. This way, the next day you won’t spend hours trying to figure out where to start; you simply finish that sentence and keep going.

Take it a step further by copying that last sentence into a separate document at the end of each day. Spend some time writing out a few possible directions or a brief outline for tomorrow’s writing.

The next day, work only from that new document. This way, you won’t be distracted by the possibility of editing yesterday’s work — you’ll be focused on creating today’s.

Use technology to help you

Blogger Buster Benson suggests writing 750 words each day. To help himself and others meet this goal, he built 750 Words.

[bctt tweet=”Use technology to help you write daily. @Buster suggests writing 750 words each day. “]

This simple tool provides a distraction-free writing environment and lets you know once you reach your daily goal. The writing you produce is totally private, and a subscription is $5 a month after a free 30-day trial.

Sticking to a tighter budget? Try some of the many free apps and programs available to help your concentration and productivity.

Try Seinfeld’s calendar system

Someone once asked Jerry Seinfeld for advice on becoming a great comedian. His reply was simple: buy a big wall calendar and hang it somewhere you’ll see it often.

Every day you meet your writing goal, mark a big X in red marker over that day on the calendar.

“After a few days you will have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job is to not break the chain.”

Easy, right? Just don’t break the chain.

Use this technique to meet specific writing goals. For instance, if you’d like to write a ebook, track your writing specific to that project on your giant calendar — if it’s in addition other writing, just use another color of marker.

Don’t have (or want to buy) a calendar? Writer Nora Bailey created an Excel spreadsheet formatted as calendar, with number of words written under specific days. When she meets her writing goal each day, the “total words” field automatically turns green.

Image: Writing Calendar in Excel

It’s deceptively simple to negotiate with yourself that you won’t be doing any writing today. You can say it’s late, you don’t feel like it or simply deny that you ever really wanted to start writing. The trick is in putting those excuses aside and putting pen to paper, fingers to keyboard.

There’s no one strategy that helps all writers write every day. Experiment to find one that works well for you!

Do you write every day? How do you make it a priority and maintain the habit?

Filed Under: Craft


  • Mindy Ogg says:

    Hi Jurij! Your article couldn’t have come at a better time! I’ve been feeling low on creativity lately. I’ve done the morning pages before and have wanted to start that up again, but unfortunately my schedule is not consistent. I keep a journal on my computer but I recently bought the most lovely leather bound journal last week. I love writing with pen to paper for a change. I need to count the words on each page to see what is typical for me (I’ve been writing 5-6 pages). I look forward to writing and have written every day since last Thursday. It had been 10/23/14 since I had written last, and my last blog entry was 10/7/14!

    I signed up for 750words.com and really like that idea! I might still do that once my schedule gets worked out in addition to writing in my journal. I use my journal not just to dump my thoughts and feelings. It’s a time for creativity as well.

    I also downloaded that spreadsheet and like that idea as well! Lots of great stuff here.

    Thank you! Have a great day!


  • Penny says:

    Thanks Jurij! Well times (for me, at least). Seems so obvious, we’re writers – we should be writing! Sadly, not so obvious once you get into the daily grind of marketing, pitching, scheduling interviews and sleuthing out editors’s email addresses.

    I just signed up for 750Words – a little prodding (and accountability)is always a good thing. Happily – I wrote a post for my “stepchild” blog – The Midlife Diaries (www.TheMidlifeDiaries.com – my first foray into the world of blogging, but sadly neglected of late).

    Thanks for encouraging us to do what we were always meant to do — write!

  • Cassandra Gomes-Hochberg says:

    Great post! I also write everyday, and I even do a day schedule to help me get going. For example, every 300 hundred words I mark check on my day list and take a small break (very short break, standing up, stretching, looking at the ceiling). Once you see your to do list of the day with a few checks, it gives some motivation =)

  • Travis Love says:

    I do try to write every day, whether it’s a blog post or on one of my books. But much of the time I find myself just staring at the blinking cursor. Sometimes I think I have picked too narrow of a niche, or too ambitious of a book project.

  • Linas says:

    No I dont write everyday. But if I take pen in my hand I am writing for hours like crazy. For example today I wrote four hours without changing posture 😀 I dont know if it is a best option but when I start writing i become obsesed and forget everything. So realy I dont have habit for creative writing it is just random creative burst. I only had habit with writing diary everyday for half year. There I put my thoughts about things. So I find that creative writing needs more colors, action etc and working on it. I believe it will become a habit like writing a diary.

  • Good advice Jurij!

    My trick is to write first thing in the morning. If I start with checking my email, reading the news, catching up on blogs, etc., it can take me FOREVER to get going on actually writing.

    But if I sit down and write for an hour (or 1000 words, depending on whether I’m drafting or revising) it gets done. Not only that, but I’m more productive throughout the day if I start by achieving a concrete goal!

    • Jurij says:

      Glad you liked it, Katharine.

      I like to do my writing first thing in the morning too, though I suspect it’s more of a habbit.

      The ‘just sit at the typewriter and bleed’ phase kicks in after lunch, so maybe you’re onto something.

  • Elke Feuer says:

    Great post, Jurij!

    I write everyday, whether it’s notes in my journey for a story idea, a blog post, speech topic, or the outline for a new story. I find if I focus on just tasks instead of writing, my creative well dries up because I’m not emptying it so it can refill.

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