How do you get in the habit of writing every day?

I don’t think I’m qualified to answer this yet, but I know someone who is.

John Saddington, a tech entrepreneur and blogger who’s actually one of my old high school classmates, has been writing a blog post every day for the last 15 years.

Think about that for a minute.

A blog post EVERY DAY for 15 YEARS.

The dude is a machine.

In this vlog, starting at 1 minute 30 seconds to around 6 minutes 30 seconds, he describes his writing process:

If you want to build a daily writing habit, you MUST watch this 5-minute segment.

After you’re done, watch it again. Let the advice sink in.

I watched it several times and it’s solid gold.

Here are the highlights:

“If there is a secret to my method, I write at the exact same time every single day. And that’s my strategy. That’s my methodology.”

He equates this to “muscle memory” which doesn’t just apply to training muscles, by the way. Exercising your writing muscle, if you will, at the same time every day eventually makes it an automatic habit.

I haven’t quite gotten this down yet. During the weekdays, I write before work. On the weekends, I write in the morning. But I do write in the same environment every day, which is helpful and that’s one thing I’ll add to this.

I write at the Dunkin’ Donuts by my office or by my house every day. I’ve found it much easier to write at Dunkin’ than at home and that’s because I’ve trained myself to write there. When I’m sitting down at Dunkin’, I write. That’s just what I do.

“More than 50% of the time when I sit down in front of this notebook and I try to write things down, it doesn’t come.”

This is the “struggle” he describes as the writing process. And if someone who’s been writing every day for 15 years still struggles half of the time, then you will too. But the important thing is that you grind through it, which brings me to the most important tip:

“If there’s anything I do differently from other people, it’s that when I sit down for that writing period, I don’t get up until I’ve actually written something.”

John ships every day for one reason and one reason only. It’s that he doesn’t allow himself not to.

Think about something you do every day because you won’t allow yourself not to. Like feeding your children.

That’s what he does with writing.

“Most people who struggle with writing give up way to early. They sit down. They struggle. And they quit.”

What if you have nothing to write about?

You find something.

writingtable

Image by Aidan Meyer.

Here are some suggestions that have helped me to crush writer’s block:

Check Quora.

On Quora, I follow a few topics I’m interested in that I know about and dozens of questions on these topics pop up in my feed each time I log on.

Quora has been really helpful to me not just because it gives me writing ideas and an easy way to deliver them, but also because it motivates me to write.

I used to find it difficult to write blog posts because I wasn’t sure if anyone would read them and if they did, maybe they wouldn’t get anything useful out of it. This is really demotivating. But when I see a question on Quora, I know there’s a real person behind that question.

With Quora, when you answer a question you can be confident that you are helping at least ONE person: the person who asked it. And it’s very likely you are helping many more people than that, perhaps thousands more.

As you write more on Quora, people will begin to request answers to specific questions from you. To me, this is also really motivating because it gives me a strong purpose to write knowing with 100% confidence that I am reaching others with information that is relevant to them.

Check Feedly.

Feedly is a RSS reader of blogs that you can sign up for.

Like subscribing to topics on Quora, you can subscribe to blogs on Feedly and the latest articles from these blogs will show up in your feed.

I’m currently subscribed to about 20 blogs that I really enjoy ranging from health and fitness and self-development to marketing and psychology. I scan probably 100 headlines a week and read 20–30 blog posts per week.

Of these, there are usually at least one or two articles that really blow me away. I bookmark these and when I have nothing to write about on a given day, I’ll come back to one of these articles and write about it.

This always works because it’s easy to write about something that blows you away and resonates with you.

Write a review.

Think about a book or news article you read, movie you watched, podcast you listened to, or product you used that had a big impact on your life.

Have you visited an incredible place or eaten at an amazing restaurant recently?

Write about your experience with it.

If all else fails, write about a quote you heard or a conversation you had with someone that really struck a chord with you.

Between all of these sources of ideas, you should be able to find at least one thing to write about every day. And that’s all you need.

One thing.

Here’s one final quote from John that really stuck with me:

“It’s not a waste of time to sit and struggle with your art.”

This last piece of advice was really powerful. There are so many doubts that creep in when you’re first starting out with something, or even after you’ve been doing it for a while.

With writing, the obvious one is “What if I suck?”

There are many times I think I suck at writing. Especially when I look at someone like Tim Ferriss, who writes ginormous books that millions of people love.

Or James Altucher, who is so transparent with his thoughts and feelings in his writing that people in his own family don’t even talk to him anymore.

Or J.K. Rowling who turned her imagination into a billion dollar empire.

These doubts can easily derail your writing habit if you let them. But just think about that quote.

“It’s not a waste of time to sit and struggle with your art.”

Then, keep writing.

Featured image by John Saddington.

First published on Quora (1, 2).


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