By Leo Babauta
One of the most instrumental changes in my life has been writing every single day.
For many years I was a writer who didn’t write that regularly. It was always on the back of my mind to write, but I didn’t find the time.
Then I started this blog in January 2007, and have written pretty much every day since then.
It was life-changing.
I recommend daily writing for anyone, not just writers. Here’s what I’ve found from my daily habit:
- Writing helps you reflect on your life and changes you’re making. This is incredibly valuable, as often we do things without realizing why, or what effects these things are having on us.
- Writing clarifies your thinking. Thoughts and feelings are nebulous happenings in our mind holes, but writing forces us to crystalize those thoughts and put them in a logical order.
- Writing regularly makes you better at writing. And writing is a powerful skill to be good at in our digital age.
- Writing for an audience (even if the audience is just one person) helps you to think from the perspective of the audience. That’s when the magic starts, because once you get into the reader’s mindset, you begin to understand readers and customers and colleagues and friends better. You have empathy and a wider understanding of the world.
- Writing persuasively — to convince others of your point of view — helps you to get better at persuading people to change their minds. Many people don’t want to change their minds when they feel someone is attacking their position, so they get defensive and dig into their position.
- Writing daily forces you to come up with new ideas regularly, and so that forces you to solve the very important problem of where to get ideas. What’s the answer to that problem? Ideas are everywhere! In the people you talk to, in your life experiments, in things you read online, in new ventures and magazines and films and music and novels. But when you write regularly, your eyes are open to these ideas.
- Writing regularly online helps you to build an audience who is interested in what you have to share, and how you can help them. This is good for any business, anyone who is building a career, anyone who loves to socialize with others who are interested in similar things as them.
And that’s just the start. The full benefits of this regular habit are, ironically, not something you can put into words, but something that must be experienced to be known.
How to Write Daily
There are various ways to get into the daily writing habit, but here’s what I’d recommend based on my experience:
- Commit to writing daily. Many people try to write a few times a week, or once a week. That’s too infrequent and it won’t become a habit that way. Instead, tell yourself, “I’m going to write every single day, no exceptions”. And then actually stick to this commitment.
- Set aside the time. Really important. You have to block off a small chunk of time for this, or it won’t happen. I suggest morning, as soon as you can, so that other things don’t get in the way. However, if you’re a night owl, late nights are fine too, as long as you’re not too tired.
- Start small. OK, you knew I was going to say this, but it’s really important. All you have to do is start writing each day — you don’t have to write 1,000 words or anything. Just start, and how much you do doesn’t matter. Once the habit is in place, you can lengthen it, but for now just start.
- Blog. You can write in a journal or text document just for yourself, but I highly recommend blogging. Get a free account at WordPress.com or Tumblr, and just start. Why blog? Because it really helps you to write regularly, and forces you to think in different ways, when you have an audience. Even if the audience is small. It’s scary, I know, but just do it. You’ll grow comfortable with it over time, and you should never let fear stop you from doing something amazing.
- Shut down distractions. The writer is best friends with distraction. He knows its powerful call, and must master the urge to follow it. So shut down everything that isn’t your writing tool, all tabs, all email programs and social media, and just write.
That’s all you need to get started. Over time, you’ll learn the power of interaction with your audience, and draw inspiration and lessons from the audience. But for now, just get started.