I wrote 289,755 words in the last 365 days. A good business book is around 60,000 words, which means that in the last year I managed to write 4 books. Here’s the catch – I did this by committing to only one easy and simple action each and every day.
A little more than a year ago, I decided to become a writer. I knew that becoming a writer was a hard mission and that it wouldn’t fall from the sky – I had to earn it. So I studied what the biggest writers of the past and present did to become great writers. And there it was, a single habit that all of them shared which made them great.
Every single day, no matter if it was raining or snowing, cold or hot, traveling or at home, they wrote at least 500 words. A habit of writing at least 500 words daily made those people and all I had to do to become a great writer is to do the same. No matter how much it took me, if I just made it a priority of writing those words daily, I would become good enough. So that’s what I did for the past 365 days.
I wrote at least 500 words a day and it accumulated to 289,755 words in one year.
This writing brought me to Addicted2Success, Lifehack.org, Goalcast and many other platforms where my work was seen by hundreds of thousands of people.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to become a great writer:
1. Rely on a system and ignore motivation
Let’s say you want to write 500 words a day and you skip the first 3 days, thinking that you will cover it all on Thursday. That means that on Thursday you need to write 500+500+500 from the previous three days +500 more for that day. That is a whopping 2000 words that you have to write that day.
Now, if you rely on motivation to keep you through this, you will fail. You will probably write inconsistently as motivation is simply unpredictable and we can’t base our lives on it.
In order to truly succeed, you need a system. So ignore the fact that you are not always motivated to write and simply just write. Even the greatest writers don’t have the motivation to always write, but they still did it because they made it a habit.
2. Do the work
Today’s world is all about the next new hack such as how to make a 10-year vision come true in 6 months. However, writing is different. No matter what kind of a teacher you have and what kind of tips and tricks they teach you, it still requires hard work.
You can learn about great writing from books like On Writing by Stephen King or by William Zinsser On Writing Well, but you will never become a writer by only learning about it. You need to do the work and there is no going around this. 500 words a day is simple to do but it’s also simple not to do.
“The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are: Hard work, Stick-to-itiveness, and Common sense.” – Thomas A. Edison
3. Resistance will always be there
There is this notion that the better you become as a writer, the easier it is to simply sit down on your laptop and churn out a War and Peace. Well, the fear you feel when you sit down to write for the first time is the same fear Stephen King, Haruki Murakami or Neil Gaiman feel when they sit down to write.
It doesn’t matter if it’s your first blog post or your 47th book you are writing, you still feel the fear. It’s so strong and pervasive that it was immortalized in a book by Steven Pressfield called The War of Art. This fear got a name in the book – Resistance – and it’s the main culprit for things like writer’s block, lack of ideas and topics to write about, not knowing what to write about, etc.
Resistance will always be there, every single day, looking at you and trying to fight you off from the goal you set out. But the best way to defeat it is by doing the one thing Ernest Hemingway said will make you a writer: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
4. Quality comes from quantity
Henry David Thoreau wrote seven different manuscripts for Walden. Hemingway wrote 47 different endings of “A Farewell To Arms.” Jack Kerouac wrote “On The Road” in 3 weeks but then spent 7 years editing the piece.
“The only kind of writing is rewriting,” was said by Hemingway and Stephen King added “To write is human. To edit is divine.” All of this teaches us that even the big wigs in writing spent time getting better. Because of this, they achieved that quality of work by the quantity of it.
The first thing you write is usually called “The shitty first draft” (quote by Anne Lamott) but you can’t edit a blank piece of paper. That’s why you need to write a lot and then from all of that writing and rewriting, good third and fourth drafts will appear which will be a great foundation for an amazing 7th draft and the 8th published draft.
“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” – Stephen King
If you want to write quality, you first need to go over quantity. Nobody gets better by just picking up writing – it takes consistency, time, and effort. By simply writing 500 words a day, you can become like that. Remember, all you have to do is sit every single day and, as Hemingway said, bleed on the typewriter. Or just write 500 words a day and you will get there.
Have you tried to write before? Let us know in the comments below so we can all help one another.
Image courtesy of Twenty20.com