How to Write Every Day: 8 Sensational Strategies That Work

How to write every dayDo you want to write every day?

I knew I wanted to publish my first book, and that learning to write every day was the key to doing it.

But, it wasn’t enough to know the concept.

I had to figure out how to keep my deadlines and finish writing what I started.

How could I write every day and balance having a job, two kids, friends and family who don’t write, and all the in-betweens?

I faced my biggest challenge yet.

If couldn’t face this one down, I’d never be able to call myself an author.

I’d never be able to look myself in the mirror again.

How I Learnt To Write Every Day

King sets the bar high for new writers
King sets the bar high for new writers

I turned to a book for help, in particular On Writing by Stephen King.

I figured this prolific author of over 50 novels could help me.

King writes at least 2,000 words a day, every day, including his birthday.

To me, 2,000 words a day looked like climbing Everest.

Thankfully, King recommends aspiring authors to write every day and produce at least 1,000 words.

In his book On Writing, he explains:

”As with physical exercise, it would be best to set this goal low at first, to avoid discouragement.

“I suggest a thousand words a day, and because I’m feeling magnanimous, I’ll also suggest that you can take one day a week off, at least to begin with.”

I thought about writing 1,000 words a day and felt dizzy.

I set the goal even lower and decided to write just 500-words a day. I could handle 500-words a day, couldn’t I?

Now, 500-words a day felt achievable.

So, on Monday morning, I wrote 500-words, and on Tuesday I did the same too.

On Tuesday night, life happened.

My daughter (who was 6-months-old at the time) woke up at three am with a chest infection. We didn’t get much sleep that night and the following day, I didn’t write. I was just too tired.

I didn’t write the day afterward either, by the time Saturday rolled around, I’d only produced 1000-words.

I was sick of my writing mistakes, and I felt like a failure. Then, I started applying a few strategies from the productivity world. If you’re a new writer, they can help you too.

1. Track Your Daily Writing Habit

Jerry Seinfeld
Don’t Break the Chain says, Jerry Seinfeld

Don’t Break the Chain is one of the more popular productivity methods in use today. Developed by Jerry Seinfeld, the technique is quite simple to use.

The comic is a believer in the principle of daily actions building habits, and he developed this method after tasking himself with writing at least one joke per day.

After writing a joke, Seinfeld recorded an X on a giant wall calendar. He repeated this process the next day. Seinfeld did this each day, thereby slowly building up a chain of X’s that he felt reluctant to break.

Now, “Don’t Break the Chain.” is one of the more popular productivity methods in use today. He famously said:

After a few days you’ll 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 next is to not break the chain.

You can use this productivity method if you want to write every day too.

I used this method for several years with varying degrees of success for building habits like writing and exercising.

I’m less likely to avoid writing or exercising if I have built up a chain of Xs; it kills me to break a chain. It’s encouraging to set and surpass streak chain records. I’m weirdly obsessed by the growing number of Xs on my various calendars.

Once I break a chain, I’m far more likely to avoid writing or exercising the following night too. So I try to avoid missing more than one day.

2. Try Daily 30-Minute Writing Sessions

Where I write
Where I started writing for 30-minutes a day

A 30-minute writing session is the right amount of time if you want to gain momentum in your first book.

It’s not so long that it feels unmanageable, and it’s not so short that you won’t get anything done.

A 30-minute writing session is long enough to write 500-words, and it’s easy to squeeze in a 30-minute writing session into a busy day.

You could:

  • Write part of your book or bestseller during your commute
  • Write a chapter at lunch
  • Get up just 30 minutes earlier before work to write
  • Skip one of your favorite TV shows and write
  • Cut out social media until you put in your 30-minute writing session

I don’t know about you, but I’d take 500 words over watching a re-run of Seinfeld (sorry Jerry!) any day.

3. Write At the Same Time Every Day

Calendar
I started tracking my writing

I recommend spending at least 30-minutes every morning or evening working on your first draft.

During these short writing sessions, avoid spending time on other distracting activities like social media, email, or the news.

And remember to separate writing and editing into different activities. Your job during these short writing sessions is to get the words out of your head and onto the blank page.

You can use these writing sessions for outlining your books or stories. Or try more exploratory creative writing, freewriting, or journaling. But focus on one activity. It will help you become a better writer.

I also recommend tracking your progress, in terms of word-count or hours spent writing, so you can improve (as per Jerry’s approach).

4. Plan for Beating Writer’s Block

Writer’s block happens when you feel out of ideas, stressed, or are overloaded. It can often get in the way of trying to write every day.

If you’re struggling to write, taking a short break to exercise. Getting your heart rate up often inspires creative thinking.

If you have this problem also consider using writing prompts to spark more creative thinking. They will help you increase the number of words you can produce each day. As your writing skills improve, you won’t need them as much.

5. Use a Deadline

Professional full-time writers work towards a deadline. They must complete articles or projects for clients on time. Or they’ve set a writing goal whereby they want to publish a book by a particular date.

Don’t fear deadlines. They’re actually the friends of aspiring writers who want to build better habits. They have a way of focusing the mind, particularly when procrastination raises its ugly head.

NaNoWriMo is a good competition to enter if you’d like to try a deadline. It takes place every November. Basically, your job is to write the first draft of a book in 30-days. I’ve taken part in this challenge several times, and I finished a book that I later self-published on Amazon. 

6. Set a Daily Word-Count

A Handbook for the Productive Writer
One of the books I wrote using this method

Consider your ideal word-count for your book or novel. Let’s say 60,000 words. Now, ask yourself:

What’s the ideal number of words I can produce each day?

I find 500-words is a good target for aspiring writers as it’s within reach. If you build up a chain of 7 Xs, you will have written for 3 1/2 hours and at least 3500 words.

That’s more than enough for one or two chapters in your first book or novel. If you do this for four months, you will have written 60,000 words.

And the best part?

Although King’s books are up to 180,000 words long, it just so happens 60,000 words is the length of an average self-published book on Amazon.

7. Set Time Aside for Editing and Rewriting

Grammarly writing insights
Grammarly writing insights are useful for self-editing

You can use a 30-minute writing session to work on a single topic, to edit a section of your own writing, or for research.

The trick is to only work on one area of whatever you are writing for 30-minutes. I’m not the only writer who uses this piece of advice. I coached a writer to harness the power of small daily wins recently. Afterward, he emailed me to say:

I tried setting a 30-minute timer the day after we talked and got a piece of micro-fiction written.

One of the best things I have taken away from talking to you is the segregation of writing from research. It has helped me a lot so far.

Tip: Grammarly can save the amount of time you need to spend editing.

8. Take a Break From Daily Writing

Yes, that’s right… If you miss a day’s writing, that’s ok. But, try not to miss the next one.

You don’t need to write every single day for the rest of your life to succeed as a writer. Time off is still allowed, we’re not robots!

I took me a while to internalize the value of time off for writers.

When I got into the habit of blogging and writing non-fiction consistently, I felt stressed if I missed a day’s work.

But over time, writing became a habit that I followed without thinking. Now, I’m comfortable with taking the weekends off because I know I’ll return to the blank page refreshed, with new ideas.

But when I’m under a deadline, I’ll write every day until I hit my goal.

The Final Word on Writing Every Single Day

Learning how to write every day starts with good new habits and a plan for your work. From there, track your progress and your daily output. Know when to push forwards and when to take a break. 

It’s easy to write every day. All you have to do is start!

If you still need help writing every day, join the Savvy Non-Fiction Writer’s Club.

Write Every Day FAQs

How much should you write every day?

Stephen King recommends new writers produce 1,000 words a day. If that’s too much, try for between 300 and 500 words a day. It takes a 30-minute writing session to write that many words.
Achieving this each day will turn into several thousand words, on a good week. If you do this for several weeks, your writing skills will improve and you’ll have more material to edit and publish.

Should you write every day?

If you’re a new writer who wants to improve, trying to write every day will help you become a better writer fast. Consistency builds competency. This new habit will also help you finish more articles, stories and even books. That in turn will help you increase your income or impact as a writer.

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10 thoughts on “How to Write Every Day: 8 Sensational Strategies That Work”

  1. Hi Bryan,

    What a great post!

    I’ve always wanted to write a book, although I’ve never tried… further, I’m not sure — at this given moment — what I would write about. But I am a huge fan of Stephen King, and I like his advice about writing 1,000 words daily to start.

    The psychological factor of crossing the day out on your calendar? Makes perfect sense to me. I published a post a little while back on goal setting, and I am a big fan of visualization. I like to print out giant, blank thermometers and color them in as I make progress.

    I hang them in my office and it reminds me that I’m moving in the right direction.

    Nice job!

    Brent

    1. HI Brent,
      Good to hear you liked the post. Stephen King offers great advice for writers. I like setting goals for writing because it’s easier to see if I’m making progress or just procrastinating.

  2. Hi, Bryan,

    This is a great concept.

    I read the variation long ago on Jeff Goins’ blog: don’t write a lot. Just write often.

    And you know, it greatly aided my writing skill.

    I practised writing everyday without fail and soon my writing was getting better.

    At first, most ofthe stuffs I wrote were crap. Yet getting those out of my head was fun and it stretched my writing muscles.

    These days, I’ve got a challenge though. Truth is, I have not written in one month (yes, I do a lot of scribble here and there,but I judge having written with completing a daily writing task of 1000+ word every morning).

    Dunno whats the cause, but I found I face the empty page and, wsell, I’m just blank.

    Do you think times like this will always occur in a writer’s life?

    Once again, great post.

    – Yusuff Busayo

  3. Hi Yusuff,
    Writing often is the best way to increase your word count, become a better writer and most importantly of all finish more books. You have to write a lot of crap to get to the good stuff.

    It’s natural to face the blank page and sometimes think you’ve got no ideas, which is why I recommend keeping a swipe or ideas file full of topics that you want to write about. You should add to this every day and review it when you feel blocked. This way you can avoid having nothing to write about.

  4. Hi Bryan,

    I like the idea of just 30 minutes a day – it’s achievable and it’s not too much of a show stopper mentally. After all, it’s less than the length of a TV program or other distraction.

    And there’s always the option of pressing “reset” on the alarm and going for another half hour on those days when you find yourself in the flow.

    The discipline of writing daily is an excellent idea as well. Habits take a while to form (between 2 weeks and 2 months depending on who you believe) but once they’re there, it’s a lot easier to keep to them because you start to feel like something’s missing if you don’t do them.

    Thanks again,

    Trevor

    1. Hi Trevor,
      You’re right: it’s completely achievable. 30 minutes a day is how I got started. It takes about 4-6 weeks for form a habit but once you do, writing becomes a lot easier.

  5. Hi Bryan, Thanks for your encouragement and practical ideas. I have gone through two writing programs to get my book written in the last 18 months, at some expense, with coaching and structure and found that I ran out of steam for a variety of reasons: self sabotaging strategies; huge internal limitations around money, wealth and being invisible; family crises, and the biggie – that the idea of having to build an author platform scared the heck out of me. I stopped writing completely. Building a platform has now consumed me to the degree where writing the book has taken a back seat and I have lost focus and heart. I didn’t know it would be this hard. I read your post and will go out and get a calendar and a timer today. Small beginnings again! Thanks very much. Regards, Lilian

    1. Hi Lillian,
      Sorry to hear you got stuck, but it sounds like you’re almost there…

      If you’re struggling to write and build an author platform, put up a simple webpage about your book and then just concentrate on getting the book finished first. and You can always build out your site or blog later.

      Remember, these things get easier as you practice them.

  6. bookwormkidsandteens

    I’m going to try the ‘don’t break the chain’ method now! I always have tried to write, but slowed down around the middle of my novels and never finish them. Thank you for this great idea.

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