Whether it’s a blog or a full-length novel, you should write. Start today.
Writing gets ideas into a tangible form. It gets you out of your own head. Writing is remarkably valuable for capturing ideas and thoughts. And if your goal is to write a book then writing is an obvious necessity. You have to write.
All it takes is 700 words a day. That’s not that many words if you’re focused on simply getting the words onto the page and not necessarily about grammar or spelling or really even plot or focal points (which you can tackle outside of the writing time anyway).
A lot of nay-sayers respond to this notion of writing every day by saying: “700 words is a lot of words.” But it’s not! You probably write more than 700 words a day without realizing it, on Facebook, Instagram, emails, Twitter, etc.
Even if you type relatively slow – 40 words per minute – you could write 700 words in less than 20 minutes. 30 if you’re a real stickler for spelling.
If you find the notion of writing daily in order to complete a novel or write a series of blog posts, the problem isn’t that 700 words is a lot, the problem is that your priorities are off.
You can usually find time to write at least 700 words a day if you make it a priority to do so. Hell, write on your phone while in the bathroom, taking a break from school or work, or watching TV at night.
Of course, if you can’t justify writing something like 700 words a day, then you shouldn’t be writing anyway. Sure, the idea of writing a book sounds good to a lot of people, but without those 20-30 minutes you’re not going to get very far. Nobody has ever published a book without first writing it. You have to make writing a priority.
Ok, so you get over the time issue, you’ve set aside 20 minutes a day to just write some words on the screen or in a notebook. But when you sit down to write, nothing comes. How are you going to reach 700 words if you can’t think of anything to write?
A few things on this: the first is to spend a few days or minutes of every day conceptualizing what’s worth writing.
You probably have ideas throughout the idea about things worth writing about. Maybe it’s your job, a solution to a problem you encountered, or even dreams you have for your own life. You have things to say, you’re thinking them all day every day, write those things down however they want to come out.
“But nobody is going to care what I have to say!”
If anybody who ever thought of writing a book didn’t do so because they though nobody would care for what they had to say, we wouldn’t have any books.
Particularly in this day and age, you can effortlessly get in contact with hundreds of thousands of people who will care about what you have to say. Just go to Google and type in any random string of words and you’ll find a thriving community of people who are interested in that absurd topic. Try it if you don’t believe me!
If you can find people who are interested in utterly random topics, what makes you think you can’t find at least a dozen people who will care about what you have to say?
Somebody, somewhere, is going to be interested in what you have to write. They might find it educational, or maybe inspirational, or maybe they’ll be interested in it simply because they utterly disagree or personally hate you. That’s fine, because it gives you reason to write!
I started this blog six years ago as a way to document and share my exploration into creativity. Now, years later, nearly 100,000 people read this blog. I had no idea that many people would care about what I had to say. I’m nobody in the grand scheme of life. Just a guy who occasionally says something interesting. Though I’d argue that most of the time what I have to say is crap. Still…
Write even if nobody is going to read what you write.
Because then you’ll have those thoughts and ideas out of your head. And we don’t know how valuable ideas are until they’re out and in the real world where we can interact with them, spread them, and get feedback on them.
The last thing I’ll say on this issue is regarding finding enough to say. 700 words can seem like a lot if you can’t think of ten words to start it off with.
Just before I sat down to write this post Andrew Areoff of the remarkable web studio Areoff sent me a tweet that read:
There’s a really simple solution to not knowing what to write, or not having enough to say in order to meet a 700 word minimum. Are you ready to hear it? The solution is this: just start writing. Then, whenever you get stuck, expand on what you’ve already written by asking questions about it. Questions!
Not only can asking the right questions via prompts get you to that 700 word limit, but doing so also ensures you add to the writing instead of simply fluffing it up.
Some example questions I regularly use in my own writing:
- How can I expand on this?
- Are there any historical points I can bring up?
- What are some third-party resources or quotes I can incorporate here?
- What would an argument be at this point and how can I counter it?
- What would someone reading this expect to hear at this point and how can I do the opposite of that in order to surprise them?
- Who has already written on this and what do I agree or disagree about what they’ve written?
- What needs to be re-emphasized?
- Where are the pivotal points in the world for my argument?
- How can I introduce a secondary plot or argument here, and does it make sense to do so?
- How can I ask the reader to provide feedback at this point so I can incorporate it into my future writing?
Try that out. No more excuses. Just write and if you get stuck, use one of the above questions, then keep writing.
Oh, and if you’re wondering: this blog article is more than 1,000 words and took me less than 20 minutes to write. All I did was write what I thought would be interesting, draw out arguments against what I was saying, and then address those arguments.
It’s not that hard if you simply start, make it a priority, and make it a habit.
Of course: If you’re really feeling stuck on writing, download my app Prompts for your iPhone or iPad. I made the app explicitly to help people like you write more words, more of the time.