6 Tiny Habits That Helped Me Write 850k Words in 3 Years

How you can adapt them and build a daily writing habit.

6 Tiny Habits That Helped Me Write 850k Words in 3 Years
Image from the author’s Instagram

How you can adapt them and build a daily writing habit.

I always loved writing. In 2021, I made it my full-time job.

Since then, I’ve written 847 articles on Medium. All my articles are 5 minute reads or longer, which would put them to an approximate length of 1000 words each. Some of them are longer, and I can safely say I’ve written 850,000+ words in the last three years.

This output has helped me make upwards of $50k from the Medium Partner Program. But money is just one aspect.

The daily writing habit has helped me build multiple income streams. It’s enabled me to sustain a luxurious solopreneur life, taking international vacations whenever I wish to, and with enough time to pursue my other hobbies.

Everything I have today, I owe it to my writing output for the past 3 years.

Image by Nishu Jain — Made using “Unofficial” Medium API”

Where did such massive writing productivity come from?

In this article, I’ll analyze what it takes to build a daily writing habit. You’ll notice none of the habits I mention here are *big* habits. They’re tiny habits that don’t require major lifestyle changes.

1. Have a writing North Star

I used to think creativity is a whimsical thing, and you can’t predict when and how the words from within you will flow.

While that’s true, relying on spurts of creativity to hit at the right time will take you nowhere as a writer. Making writing goals and sticking to them is the first step to being a prolific writer.

“I will write something every day” is not a good enough goal. Once I realized my North Star needed to be specific, I got better as setting writing to-dos.

My current writing North Star is to publish 15 articles every month. If that’s set in stone, I can prepare my to-do lists for the day accordingly.

A look at how my to-do list looks like. Notice how I’ve added “Publish BM article,” rather than “Write something for BM today.”

How you can implement this

Some examples of how your writing North can look like:

  • I’ll write a book by the end of this year.
  • I’ll write 1000 words every day.
  • I’ll write 5 articles each week.
  • I’ll write 2 articles every weekend.

Once you know your per-day writing goal, stick to the plan by adopting the Seinfeld method. How? Read on.

2. Adopt the Seinfeld method

Jerry Seinfeld, one of the most successful comedians of all time, is said to have come up with a strategy to build habits and beat procrastination. Experts now call this the “Seinfeld Strategy.” It comprises of marking the day on the calendar when you perform a task.

“The method, invented by Jerry Seinfeld, entails keeping a streak for each day you complete a habit. More specifically, you have a calendar and for each day you complete your task, you put a big red X on that day. The idea is that a visual score of your accomplishments, you get motivated to not break the line.” —Zoe Bingham, Devpost
Visualizing the Seinfeld Method, image by Cristina Morero from THE SEINFELD STRATEGY — THE SIMPLEST WAY TO BUILD A NEW HABIT

How you can implement this

Stick a calendar on your wall and mark an ‘X’ on the dates for each day you hit your writing goal. You can use use a digital calendar to mark the days you maintained the daily writing streak.

The more ‘X’s you see in a row, the more motivated you’ll get to keep up the writing streak. Gamifying your writing habit is a powerful way to build accountability.

3. Write at the same time every day

Without a routine, I feel my day falls apart. Especially now that I’m self-employed, having a set routine can work wonders for my mental health and productivity.

I keep aside specific time slots in the day for specific writing tasks. This helps me in multiple ways:

  • I don’t have to actively think how to spend my time each day.
  • My brain is prepared to work whenever the clock strikes “writing time.”
  • Time-blocking my day gives me less chance to make excuses like “I don’t have the time to write anything.”
A glimpse at how I structure my day

Structuring my day around writing gives me a sense of peace I never had when I was working full-time. You might not be able to schedule 7 hours each day for writing, but you can start with 30 minutes. Compounded over 365 days, those 30 minutes will be the best investment you make on yourself.

How you can implement this

Set aside a fixed time every day when you’ll do nothing but write.

4. Pick topics that “flow”

If you start writing with an idea that’s unfamiliar to you, you’ll have to spend a lot of time reading and researching. While these are wonderful habits to write credible articles, they might be off-putting at first.

Instead, if you start with writing about things you already know a great deal about, the flow will come easily to you.

As I wrote in Unfair Advantages That Let Me Write Faster Than 90% of Writers,

When you write about the topics you’re passionate about, you’ll notice that:
- Ideas come to you quicker.
- There’s no need to spend hours on content research.
- Your passion will reflect in your work, and draw readers to your energy.

How you can implement this

When you’re starting to build a writing habit, don’t go with topics that require a lot of research. Instead, here are some prompts to get you started with writing:

  • What’s something you always keep researching about?
  • What’s a topic you can speak for 30 minutes straight about without any preparation?
  • What’s something your friends regularly come to you for advice?

Brainstorming on these questions will help you focus on topics you’re already curious about, or have some in-depth knowledge in. When you start by writing about them, you won’t have to spend hours researching. The flow state will be easier to achieve.

5. Give your writing a chance

I know I talked about how picking “easy” and “familiar” topics can get you in the flow state quicker. But that’s not always the case, at least, not immediately.

There are days when I still struggle to enjoy the process, even when I’m writing about something I’m passionate about. I take multiple breaks in between, and finish the article in several hours instead of my usual few.

But this habit has taught me a crucial lesson: Even if you feel like you aren’t getting into the flow, give your writing a chance before taking a break. This means, write at least a few words. Push yourself harder, stick to completing at least a few paragraphs, and you’ll see the desire to take breaks magically vanishes.

How you can implement this

Write at least 200 words before you call it quits.

6. Turn your phone into a writing productivity device

Research suggests that the best ideas come to us when we’re bored. A 2014 study conducted by Mann and Cadman surveyed a group of 80 individuals and found that boring activities result in increased creativity.

Instead of doomscrolling when you’ve nothing to do, let your imagination run wild. Think of ideas on how you can share your thoughts with the world. Keep track of these ideas on the “Notes” app on your phone.

I have multiple open tabs where I keep storing ideas the moment I get them. This helps me save time I’d have otherwise spent scrolling through social media, and gives me something to start with when I sit down to write.

How you can implement this

Collect ideas wherever you go and store them on your phone. Turn snippets from daily life into stories. Turn overheard conversations into dialogue for your stories. Turn people you meet into fun characters.

Use your phone to store your ideas. Not every idea will result in a finished article. But they’ll provide you a place to start so you don’t have to stare at a blank page every time you sit down to write.

6 tiny habits to write more, final words

Writing every day doesn’t have to be difficult. You don’t need to spend hours planning or motivating yourself to start.

Some simple mindset shifts and lifestyle changes can get your writing journey started.

Summing up, here are the six tiny habits that help me write 850k+ words in three years — 

  1. Have a concrete writing goal, and plan your to-do list around it.
  2. Mark each day on the calendar when you managed to stick to your writing habit. Aim to keep up the streak for as long as you can.
  3. Time-block your day so you can sit to write at the same time every day.
  4. When you’re starting, pick topics that come easily to you, and not something for which you’d have to spend a lot of time researching.
  5. Write at least 200 words to get into the flow state, before deciding to take a break.
  6. Note down ideas on your phone whenever you get bored.

How many of these tiny habits do you already practice? What new ones are you inspired to try and incorporate into your life? Let me know your insights in the comments.

Love writing but don’t know where to start? Join my FREE 5-day course. It’ll teach you the successful writer’s framework that took me 5 years to master.

More on daily writing here — 

How I Managed to Write Every Day Alongside a Day Job
The struggle is a short time, but you thrive for longer.
The Routine That Helped Me Write 30 Articles A Month (With A Day Job)
The ultimate guide to build a daily writing habit.
How to be a Consistent Writer When You Can’t Write Every Day
Keeping your idea muscle active on days you can’t spare words.