In this guest post my friend Charles Bordet is going to share how to write 1,000 words every day and massively create remarkable content.
I got introduced to Charles Bordet by my good friend Primoz Bozic, and Charles impressed me by the way he pitched this article, and then blew me away when he shared the first draft, and the final version is even better. I couldn’t be more excited to have Charles write this awesome guest post for my site.
You’ll enjoy this — take it away, Charles!
When I started to work on my online business one year ago, I quickly realized writing would be a big part of it.
I found myself writing blog articles, more emails than ever, extensive notes from the learning material I studied, etc.
I thought I knew how to write. I learned it at school, after all, and spent years practicing it. That was supposed to be easy.
But, for reasons I didn't understand yet, it was different, it was in fact difficult. I didn't have to “just write”.
My articles needed to be compelling to my readers. My emails should guarantee a reply from the recipient I tried to reach out to. My notes had to be effectively synthesizing what I learned, and organized.
In fact, the idea of writing sounds super easy. But the act of writing is much harder.
In this article, I will tell how I went from not writing at all to writing 1,000 words a day consistently. I won't tell you it was easy, nor that it is easy as of today.
Right now, I'm writing the first words of this article, and it's hard. Starting is always the hardest part. But you can make it easier. If you're struggling to write enough and consistently, then this article is for you.
On the way to reach this consistency and this number of words, I had to overcome many barriers that were preventing me to write.
The first one that comes to my mind is that I'm a non-native English speaker. Obviously, it doesn't help when you're writing in English.
My first articles were so terrible that I hired someone to edit and proofread them.
He not only corrected all the grammar mistakes but also improved the English level. Many sentences made no sense, or I was using the wrong words and idioms to express my ideas.
A second barrier was time. I was always thinking “I don't have time to write”. As everyone else, I'm busy, so when was I supposed to sit before my computer to type thousands of words?
Of course this wasn't true (protip: It's never true when we say we don't have time), and I knew it, but it took me a long time to do something about it.
The true problem was that writing was hard. And when a task is hard, or tedious, we procrastinate on it. It was much easier to productively procrastinate (by doing less important work) and say I was busy. I was working on other tasks of my to-do list, and eventually the day passed without me writing any word.
Writer's block. Sounds familiar to you? Anyone having tried to write experienced at least once (but more likely quite often) the “blank page “. I had it too.
You know, you're watching at the blinking cursor, trying to get ideas about what to write, but you have no idea. You try to write something and it's so shitty you erase it faster than you wrote it.
Finally, sometimes, I simply didn't have ideas for topics.
“I have nothing to say.”
“Why would people read what I write?”
“I don't have anything to add to the world.”
So I very rarely wrote, or only when I thought I had something worth writing, or when I “had to” so I forced myself. And, of course, I needed to have the time to write and not to be blocked by some invisible force.
Rarely is not never though. Despite these issues, I still sometimes found myself writing. And when I wrote, I wrote. Not just 200 words, but hundreds of words in one sitting.
I was so glad to be able to write that I produced the most possible.
But the next day… I felt exhausted. It was as if I had emptied all the creative energy I had and needed to take several days off to refill it.
Of course, I tried tons of methods, techniques, hacks, tools, etc., to improve my writing.
You can find tools that give you a “focus mode“, some that will block everything on your computer until you've written a certain number of words (you better not have writer's block), some that will gamify your writing, …
But, in the end, no tools can do the writing at your place. You still have to write.
I tried working in coffee shops (I HATED it!), writing with pen and paper (I LOVED it!), recording myself, writing random stuff, everything!
Some techniques worked. Some didn't.
Eventually, by keeping what worked and leaving what didn't, I understood how to build the perfect session of writing, how I could never have the blank page syndrome again, how I could write 1,000 words or more in one sitting and, more importantly, keep doing it every day, consistently, without running out of ideas of what to write.
If you're interested in writing MORE and writing BETTER, then this article is for you.
That's not a short 500-word article that will give you some inspiration (which would fade away in 10 minutes) and “quick-fix tips”, no no no.
This is a 10,000-word long extensive guide that will help you to:
- Write at least 1,000 words every day no matter what. Even if you don't have time or are used to experience the blank page syndrome.
- Dramatically improve your writing so that people keep reading until the end.
- Have a super detailed step-by-step framework to easily write an outstanding article from beginning to end.
Instead of wasting months trying techniques right and left and figuring things out, I will help you accelerate your progress so that you become a decent writer as fast as possible.
NOTE: At the end of the article, you will have the possibility to download a digest of my Step-by-Step Writing Framework to make writing super easy. Don't miss it!
Table of Contents
10. Your Next Step
The Benefits of Writing Every Day
Whether you're a writer, a designer, a lifestyle architect or a podcaster, you will write.
First, you probably have a blog. If not, well, it's not too late to have one. A blog will allow you to market your services, show your portfolio, and write content that will attract traffic and get you clients. Writing is the best way to build your brand.
If you're a podcaster, you need to prepare notes in advance, and then write some show notes to summarize what happened during the episode.
However, there are many other benefits of writing, beyond filling up your blog.
For example, every morning I'm writing in my journal.
It's not so much, probably around 100 words every day, but that helps to generate new ideas and new insights on what's going on in my life.
Do you sometimes stop for as few as 5 minutes to self-reflect on your day and your life?
By taking 10 minutes every morning to write in my journal, I make sure I have some time for self-reflection and clearing my head.
I just write what comes to my mind. Maybe I'm struggling on X, or I'm happy about Y, or frustrated because of Z. Whatever it is, I'm writing it.
It often helps to take a step back and offers a new look on the events.
The extra bonus is the possibility to go back in time. After a few months of journaling, you can read about what you were doing three months earlier.
I love that because that's an objective way of seeing how much progress you've made since then. Memories are not reliable.
Another benefit is to help you articulate more precisely your ideas.
How many times in the day do you get ideas that you don't have time to develop?
Instead of letting them die with time, you could take 10 minutes to write and expand them on paper. Next time you think about it, it will be clearer and better define in your mind. It will also be easy to talk about it to other people, or write about it in a blog post.
Oh, and, it doesn't have to be on paper. That's my way of doing, but there are tons of amazing apps to journal every day. I'll give you some of the best later.
“I'm Not a Good Enough Writer”
What if your writing is bad?
Here is the truth: Nobody is born being a good writer. Writing is a skill that needs to be learned.
We ALL suck at writing when we start.
The best writers have thousands of hours and millions of words of practice. That's why they are the best.
“But, I'm just not a writer.” Blah blah blah. Of course you're not a writer, since you're not writing.
You don't write because you're a writer, you're a writer because you write.
You don't need any credential or particular talent to write. Anyone can do it.
If you don't write because you're bad at writing, you'll never get good, you'll never write and you'll never be a writer. That's as simple as that.
Now, the bad news is that if you want to get better, you will need to get practice.
When I learned this bad news, I felt frustrated. Meh.
Isn't there a shortcut to becoming super good at writing without spending months writing crappy stuff?
I asked this same question to expert writer Bamidele Onibalusi. His response:
Notice he says “Besides practicing“. That's still the number one reason we will get better.
I bought the recommended book “The Elements of Style”. It's a short, dense, neat, and well-written book that is less about grammar rules than about “style rules”.
I was very happy with the book and started to study it.
I learned some interesting rules, but if I wanted to internalize them and integrate them into my writing, I quickly understood that… I would need to practice them.
Practice, practice, practice… Again and again.
Finally, I learned there is no hidden secret. If you want to get better at writing, write. Write again, and, with time, you will get better.
And don't feel discouraged. If you start writing, you will notice improvement very quickly. You don't need years of practice to become a decent writer, you only need to get started and stay consistent.
Now, how to stay consistent?
Write Every Day
Because the only way to get better at writing is to write consistently, I particularly recommend taking the habit of writing every day.
Of course, I'm not telling you to write 1,000 words tomorrow and the next days. Don't try that if you're not used to writing a lot.
No, instead, try to write 100 words. That's the equivalent of a small page of a journal.
It doesn't even have to be something useful, you can write about anything you want. Your thoughts, your ideas, your struggles, your wins, your failures, your past day, your next day, the last book you read, your expectations, your next article, your secret love, … whatever you want!
The most important is to get you started to write. And to take the habit.
I found that the best moment for writing is in the morning. At least for me (and lots of other people). My mind is fresh and I don't get distracted by the events of the day.
You can buy yourself a nice notebook, or a nice journal (I'm using a Moleskine notebook), and a nice pen (I love fountain pen!) so that writing becomes your guilty pleasure of the day (but without the guilt).
To stick to the habit easily, I make sure I'm always doing it at the same time every day. Otherwise, I tend to forget it.
For example, these days, I write in my journal just after my breakfast. Usually, my tea or coffee is still too hot to drink while eating, so when I'm finished with the food, I bring my cup to my room, grab my journal, and write while sipping the tea.
Because the routine is consistent, I never miss a day! And that's a lovely way to start the day, isn't it?
By the way, I talk a lot about journaling because that's the easiest way to get started and get practice. But feel free to replace it with anything that includes writing.
You can directly write in your WordPress interface, in a Google Document, on your partner's belly, etc. The support doesn't matter as much as the fact that you're actually writing.
You Don't Have to Publish What You're Writing
If your writing is bad (or you think it is), you might not want to put it out on the internet.
Well, who said you had to publish everything? Just don't. Keep it for yourself, as a secret. You can even hide it under your pillow.
The most important is to get practice at the beginning, not to publish an insane amount of content.
Maybe you have some ideas of content you would like to publish, but it's not mature enough in your mind.
Write about it for you first. As I mentioned before, it will help to articulate better your ideas. This will give you some reflection on the topic, and, the next time you write about it, it will be even better!
When you're ready to publish it later, you will be happy to notice you already have 2,000 words of content and don't have to start from scratch. You can just made some edits, improve your writing, add the missing parts and hit publish!
Ask Other People to Help You
Why are we always trying to figure out everything alone?
Getting help is an option.
Why not asking your friends to give you feedback on what you're writing instead of secretly wondering whether you're bad or very bad? They will tell you if you're good enough (protip: They are better judges than yourself).
I already told you that I'm a non-English native speaker. You can imagine how my first articles were. Full of mistakes everywhere! Some sentences had no meaning. It was a mess!
I decided to hire someone and was recommended Roddy Gibbs. I sent him my terrible articles and asked him to not only correct the grammar mistakes, but also to provide extensive feedback for the writing itself.
That was amazing.
For each paragraph, I had suggestions on how to improve the sentences. In the end, instead of having the feeling of reading the work of a 6-year old, I found my article written with a professional level of English.
I didn't stop here.
I was happy with my re-written article, but I also wanted to get better and write my articles alone.
I studied the feedback I was given and picked the suggestions that would help me improve the most.
I kept hiring him for a few articles, but soon I was able to make the leap. I wrote alone, even if I was afraid of the reactions of my readers. In fact, nobody said anything. My articles were well written. I mean, they were good enough.
How did I know when to make the leap?
I asked my friends to review a non-improved article and asked them “Do you think I should hire someone to proofread it?”.
I still was not confident at all with my writing. But when they all told me it was excellent and only found a couple grammar mistakes here and there, I knew I was good enough.
A few months later, I received another validation from another friend:
Key Takeaways: There is no true shortcut to becoming a better writer. It takes practice. However:
- You can easily get a lot of practice by writing consistently every day. Writing in a journal is a great start.
- You don't have to publish what you're writing. Keep it as practice, and you will always have the possibility to improve it later.
- Ask your friends for feedback about your articles. You can also hire someone to correct mistakes and suggest improvements.
Action Step: Make the commitment today to write every day, even if it's only one sentence. Remember: Getting started is the hardest part.
“I Don't Have Time to Write”
“I don't have time” is probably the biggest fallacy of our time.
It takes me roughly one hour to write 1,000 words, and I consider myself a slow writer.
Some people write as many as 4000 words per hour. Whaaat?!
Even at a rate of 1,000 words per hour, and if you only have 10 minutes per day, you'd still be able to write 167 words per day, which means 3,340 words per month if you're not writing during weekends.
That's the equivalent of two 1,500-word long articles per month in only 10 minutes per weekday!
You don't have 10 minutes per day? You just spent them reading this article. No excuse!
The problem is not time. The problem is that writing is hard, so it's easy to procrastinate on it and find excuses.
Sitting before the computer, opening a blank page and writing the first words is awfully hard, as weird as it can sound.
And because it's hard, it requires a lot of willpower.
When do we have a lot of willpower? At the beginning of the day, when we're still fresh and have a lot of energy!
First Thing in the Morning: WRITE.
In his book “Eat That Frog”, Brian Tracy gives the advice to do the hardest thing at first in the morning.
I completely agree with this philosophy.
Every time I tried to add something new in my life, I started to do it in the morning.
When I wanted to exercise every day, I tried to go to the gym at the end of the day when I came back from work. But sometimes I was tired. Other times I went out with friends and forgot about it. And then another excuse appeared. In the end, I wasn't consistent.
Then, I tried going there in the morning, before doing anything else. And it worked. I had no excuse, and was full of willpower.
It's the same for writing.
When I tried to write in the afternoon or in the evening, it was horrible. I had no motivation for writing, no imagination, no creativity, it was two times harder than in the morning.
However, I'm only telling you what worked for me. If you are a night owl, you might want to try writing at night when you have this burst of energy that allows you to keep working.
The idea here is to find what is the BEST moment for you to write. When do you have the most energy? If you're trying to write at the end of the day and it doesn't work for you, try in the morning.
After I have done my morning routine, I always feel very energized and am eager to start working.
I sit before my computer, set up my tools in place that help me get in the zone, and start writing.
I do it for one hour, check that I have written my 1,000 words, and stop.
Of course, if I'm in a good mood and want to write more, let's write more! But the most important for me is to make sure I write at least 1,000 words.
Ok ok, first thing in the morning. But… it's still hard! How to make sure I'm going to write?
Make Your Life Easy
Writing will always be hard (oops, bad news for you!), but you can make getting started to write easy.
I already gave you the key components above:
- An energizing morning routine.
- The right tools for you.
The morning routine is essential to kickstart my day. Ask any CEO or super successful people, they ALL have a specific morning routine. When I got up this morning, I felt very tired. I had stayed up too late yesterday and was paying the price.
But I still got up and started my morning routine. I have done it so many times that it's become natural. I don't even have to think about it.
Actually, I have printed the list of things I'm doing in my morning routine, so I literally don't have to think about anything!
After I've done it, whatever the mood and mindset I had when waking up, I am feeling energized and my mind is set up into working mode.
- I get up at around 7 am (I never snooze, I don't even know how to do it),
- prepare a healthy breakfast high in protein (as recommended by Tim Ferriss in his book The 4-Hour Body),
- eat it,
- write in my journal while sipping a cup of tea or coffee,
- go to the bathroom and do what needs to be done,
- meditate (with Headspace, awesome app!),
- write my 6-month goals,
And then I'm ready to achieve any work!
I don't necessarily recommend doing the same thing, in particular if you're not used to having a fixed routine in the morning, but this might inspire you to build your own routine.
If you want to know more about it, I highly recommend reading The Ultimate Guide to Creating the Perfect Morning Routine (Even if You're Not a “Morning Person”) from Chris Winfield.
The second key component is to have the right tools.
When I start working, I put my noise canceling headphones. This makes sure I don't get distracted by any noise and makes clear to other people that I'm working.
The noise canceling part brings me into another world of focus. It's almost as if I directly get “in the zone”. I particularly notice it when I put them out. The feeling is particular but it's truly amazing to get so intense work done.
Once the headphones are up, I turn on Focus@Will. This awesome app automatically selects music that will increase your focus, instead of having distracting music with lyrics you would have with iTunes or Spotify.
I love it because it's simple, I don't have the struggle to choose the music, and it's made to make me more productive. Win win win!
The nice bonus is that I can set up a timer of 60 minutes. This makes sure I take breaks frequently, instead of working 3 hours at once before realizing it and burning myself out for the rest of the day.
I'm also using Toggl. This allows me to track my time very easily. I write the name of the task I want to achieve, click “Play”, and it tracks the time.
Simple and easy to use to track your time. Right now, I “finish the article”, which means adding pictures etc. More on that later!
You probably already know the app if you're a freelancer getting paid by the hour by your client.
But, for me, it's another tool that increases my focus. When Toggl is running, I naturally do only the task I've been assigned to do. That's my anti-multi-tasking tool!
Finally, the last tool I'm using is Google Docs. That's where I write my articles. Not much to say here.
Feel free to use the same tools as me if that pleases you. The most important is that you feel comfortable using the tools you like. Don't use something just because someone told you so.
I like what I'm using because it makes writing more pleasant for me. The more pleasant it is, the more I write.
Key Takeaways: Not having time is a fallacy. You only need to take the time and make writing a priority. To that end:
- Write first thing in the morning, when you have a lot of willpower and creativity.
- Create a powerful morning routine that will help you kickstart your day.
- Use tools that you love to make writing funnier.
Action Step: Decide when you will write every day. Just after you get up? After your breakfast? At night once your children are sleeping?
“I Can't Write 1,000 Words. That's TOO MUCH”
When I heard Sean McCabe advising to set the goal of 1,000 words every day, I thought he was crazy. But, since I deeply respect him, I thought it could be worth a try.
Why 1,000 words by the way?
Actually, there is no reason. It's an amount of words that's challenging enough, and if you're able to do it, you won't have any problem with creating enough content for your readers.
I like to write 1,000 words a day because my articles tend to be very long (like this one), and I don't want to write them in one month.
If your goal is to write 700-word long articles for your blog, then you might want to write only 350 words a day.
If you're super busy, have a full-time job, a side business, three children and a 1-hour commute, you might not want to spend 1 hour a day writing. Pick a smaller goal, like 200 words a day in 15 minutes. That's manageable.
However, in a data-driven study from Buzzsumo, they established that the longer the content, the more shares it gets. This suggests that it might be worth writing a lot and getting to those 1,000 words a day!
That's also a good way to get the practice you need to improve your writing.
In my experience, detailed in-depth articles that provide a lot of value stand the test of time. While you would probably get small frequent burst of traffic with short article, a longer one will give you steady traffic on the long term.
A few months ago, I received an email from Bamidele Onibalusi, blogger and author of Writers in Charge, that he was writing 5,000 words a day.
When I read that, I felt inspired and decided to write 1,000 words per day!
As you can see, I was super enthusiastic:
My first (failed) attempt to write 1,000 words a day.
However, two days after I sent this email, I fell from the boat (which means I did it for 4 days. Yay!)
That was too much. I felt completely exhausted and mentally empty.
In his article, Bamidele admits that:
“In the past, I've had certain, occasional, days where I wrote 8,000 – 10,000 words, but that often meant I was unable to write for the rest of that week.”
I felt the same with only 1,000 words. Was I dysfunctional?
Of course not.
I kept doing more research to reach this goal, and learned that creativity works like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets.
So, if you haven't been writing a lot in your life, simply writing 500 words will be a challenge for you. However, for Bamidele who is an expert, that's piece of cake!
Now the good news is that a flabby muscle can be strengthened. All you need is to train it.
Instead of trying to write 1,000 words per day, I decided to start smaller. Only 500 words. That seemed doable. And it was.
For one week, I wrote 500 words a day. The next week, I decided to increase the difficulty and wrote 600 words per day. Then 700 words.
And then… I took two weeks off, due to external events. Ok, fine, no worries.
But when I got back to writing every day, I started over at 500 words. Why? Well, when you take 2 weeks off of the gym, you need to take a small step back and start a bit smaller to where you stopped.
That's what I did. I started over, increased slowly week after week, and this time reached to 1,000 words a day, every weekday, which means writing 20,000 words per month! VICTORY!
Notice what happens:
First, I started small. Only 500 words a day, that was manageable to me. If you think it's still too much, start with 200 words, or even 100 words. It doesn't really matter if it's tiny because:
- The harder is to get started. Once you start writing your 100 words, chances are that you will get above this amount.
- You will build the habit, and it's much easier to build a habit when the task is super easy. First build the habit, then make it harder.
Second, I was patient. What happens when you add up weights too quickly at the gym? You end up hurting yourself and your muscles get strained. We want to avoid that.
Pick a goal that seems easy and manageable for you. You think 500 is a bit too much? No worries, pick 300 or 200! Realize that writing 300 words per day means producing a 1,500-word long article per week. That's quite reasonable.
The most important is to build the habit. If you've been writing inconsistently, then writing 300 words a day might be more than what you were doing.
For me, writing 500 words a day was also much more than what I was already writing before anyway. Slowly but surely, I increased the number and reached the goal of 1,000 words a day.
Key Takeaways: By writing 1,000 words a day, you make sure you produce a ton of content. Also, be aware that the longer the content, the more shares it gets.
- Don't try to write 1,000 words a day right away. Instead, start with something small and manageable, for example 200 words a day. It's probably more than what you're currently writing, and it will help to build the habit easily.
- Slowly increase the amount of words you're writing, for example by 100 words every week. Slow and steady wins the race.
Action Step: Decide how many words you will write every day. It doesn't have to be 1,000. It can be 300, 100, or even one sentence. The most important is to stick to the habit.
“I Don't Know What to Write”
When you write 1,000 words a day every weekday, it means you're writing 20,000 words per month, or 240,000 words per year!
That's an insane amount of content. That's the equivalent of five 200-page books!
While that's super amazing to be able to write as much, you might run into another problem: What are you supposed to write?
First, don't freak out! You're not supposed to know in advance what you will do with these 240,000 words.
Actually, I found it was harder to know what to write when I was writing inconsistently that since I've been writing 1,000 words a day consistently.
In fact, the more you write, the easiest it will become to find new ideas to write about. You will start to recognize more easily what's worth writing and what's not (pro tip: There are more things worth writing that you think).
Generate Enough Ideas to Never Run Out of Fuel
I have a spreadsheet with the articles I've already written and the ideas for the next articles.
But, more often than not, I found myself with an empty list for the next ideas.
Simply, I wasn't taking time to generate those ideas. I thought they would come without me doing anything.
Sometimes it happens (usually in the shower, when you having nothing to take notes). But most of the time, it doesn't.
So, instead of waiting passively for ideas to come, I simply decided to actively find them.
I started to take the habit to generate only ONE idea per day. One, that's not the end of the world.
But if I consider writing one article per week, that's more than enough (I can expect 80% of my ideas to be total crap).
In his Ultimate Guide for Becoming an Idea Machine, James Altucher recommends generating 10 ideas per day!
In the end, it's your call. By generating 10 ideas, you will strengthen your creative muscle (in this case, the idea muscle) and get better and better at it.
Here are also a few suggestions to get you started:
Visit Q&A websites, forums and social media groups in your area. It can be Reddit, Quora, Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, etc. People ask questions, and if one person has a question, chances are that many others have the same one.
Listen to your readers. If you already have a following, you can ask them what they are struggling with and what their challenges are. That's a great way to learn from them, build connections, and create content specifically for them.
Read other blogs. Read, read, read. The more you read, the more ideas you will get. Of course, that's not an excuse to read blogs all day long! But make sure you're reading other blogs, and not only in your field.
How to Write Multiple Times About the Same Topic
Suppose you've come up with a few ideas.
You can write about them, but it's gonna be hard to generate super innovative ideas every time.
Don't worry, you don't have to write about something new every time, and here is why.
Imagine that you're a fitness coach, and 3 months ago you wrote about how to find the right gym for you.
I just discovered you and want to read more from you. I like what you're writing. However, there is almost no chance that I will dig into your archives to read everything you've written so far.
Instead, you could simply write again about the same topic, but with a different approach.
For example, you could write about:
- An objective comparison of the best gyms in NYC.
- A review of a gym you recently visited.
- How to find a good gym when traveling.
- The top 5 features of the best gyms
- How to find a good gym when you're new in a city?
There are so many things you could write about on the same topic, without actually rewriting the same thing.
Not only will your old visitors learn something new, they will also get a nice reminder, and your new visitors will appreciate you revisiting the subject.
Additionally, have you already heard that it takes hearing new information 7 times before it is retained?
I don't know about the figure “7”, but I know that things usually don't click the first time. I need to read several times about a topic to fully understand it, sometimes months later with another article. It happens all the time.
This makes it worth it not only to re-write about the same topics, but also to write about topics that were already tackled by other bloggers. Which leads us to…
Steal Inspiration From Others
You don't have to reinvent the wheel every time you want to write a new article.
While I certainly don't recommend copying other articles (whether it's the headline, paragraphs, etc.), you can definitely find inspiration from them.
When I started to have this problem of writing more than I had ideas to write about, I went back to my source, Bamidele Onibalusi, and asked him the following question: What to write?
He gave me two pieces of advice.
First, try looking for relevant questions on Quora (or any other Q&A website, such as StackExchange, Yahoo! Answers, etc.). If one or two people are asking a similar question, chances are that thousands of other people are asking the same question.
For example, look at this question: Time management for part-time writing. Those guys are struggling with writing consistently. The question has been seen 700 times in 2 months, which means there are more than 2 guys who have this problem.
Now, this could be an idea for an article, and hopefully some guy will write something to help them.
If you have an email list, you can directly ask your readers what problems they have so that you can write about it.
Sometimes, they will even reach out to you to ask their questions. I just said I asked Bamidele Onibalusi how to find ideas to write about. Well, he used my question to write an article about it: 10 Ridiculously Simple Ways to Find Article Ideas.
The second advice from him was to look at top articles and comments on popular blogs. You will find a “Popular Posts” section in almost any blog.
If they're top posts, then it means a lot of people were interesting in their topics. That means you could also write about it and get the attention of a lot of people as well.
If there is no “Top posts” section, then another way to find them is to use BuzzSumo. Simply enter the website at the top, and you'll find the most shared articles of this website.
For example, one of my favorite blogger, Sean McCabe, doesn't have a “Top Posts” section. But if I type his website name seanwes.com in BuzzSumo, I discover that his 2nd top post is How to be Inspired Without Copying, which is exactly what I wanted to talk about!
Yes, you can get inspiration from others, but don't copy them.
You can use this technique for your habit of generating article ideas every day. Why? Because by the time you actually write about this idea, you will see it differently and your writing will be far away from the inspiration sources.
For example, when I started to think about this article, my idea was somewhat vague. I only had the headline and a rough idea of what to write in mind.
But, with time, by self-reflecting on it, based on my own knowledge, I could design a detailed outline that was unique.
Key Takeaways: Once you're writing 1,000 words a day, you may not know what to write.
- You don't have to write 1,000 words every day. Do so when you write an article, and pick a smaller number the rest of the time. Again, the most important is to stay consistent and write every day.
- Generate one article idea per day. If you do so, you will never run out of fuel.
- Find ideas with Q&A websites (Quora, Yahoo! Answers, StackExchange), forums (Facebook and LinkedIn groups, reddit), your readers or clients, other blogs, …
- Write multiple times about the same topic with a different approach every time.
Action Step: Find one topic to write about. Don't overthink it, it doesn't have to be groundbreaking.
“Why Should I Write Every Day? Can't I Write When I Feel Like Writing?”
The answer is simple. If you write only when you feel like writing, you will almost never write.
As was stated before, writing is hard. In fact, getting started to write is hard.
Because of that, if you want to write only when you “feel like it”, you will always find an excuse or something else to do instead.
In the end, you will write only when you really have to (which is not when you feel like it).
Instead, I propose you to stick to the habit of writing every day.
This will make writing much easier, because you will have a natural routine guiding you towards writing.
It doesn't necessarily mean writing 1,000 words every day. Don't force yourself to so many words if you don't need it or if you don't want to invest one hour every day in it.
Instead, choose a range, or a minimum. It could be at least 300 words a day. Or even 100 words. Or one sentence.
What's important is to do the routine every day, so that when you need to write a lot, it's automatic and natural, as if you did it your entire life. You will sit, start to write, and instead of writing 100 words, you will write 1000.
What's the difference? Well, the difference between 100 and 1000 is smaller than the difference between 0 and 100. Remember: The hardest part is to get started.
I don't write 1,000 words a day.
Some weeks, I want to focus on other things in my business. In this case, I will keep the habit of writing, but I will write only 200 words (in fact, I often write more because 200 words are done so quickly).
Other weeks, I want to focus on writing (like for this article). Then, I will establish a minimum of 1,000 words a day.
“Hot to Get In the Zone When Writing — Every Time”
I always get “in the zone” when I write. Yes, always.
You know, this state when you're brought into another world, one where there is you, your work, and nothing else.
You usually don't notice it until you get out of it, when it feels like waking up from a dream.
The first time I experienced being in the zone was when passing exams at school.
I was so focus that nothing around me except my copy was important. I explained that to myself as being transporting into a parallel world.
But, sometimes I couldn't get there. I was distracted by other people around me who were sneezing, dropping their pens, etc.
It's only far later I learned this was called being “in the zone”, and I learned how to get there every time as well.
I built a no-distraction environment with the following tools:
A noise-cancelling headphones. I can't be distracted by noise from other people in the house, or even noise from the outside.
An app-blocker on my computer. I'm using ColdTurkey (a mac alternative is SelfControl) to block Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, all these distracting websites when writing. This makes sure I ONLY write. If you're used to check Facebook every 10 minutes, you will easily lose your train of thoughts and never get in the zone.
The right moment in the day. My headphone ensures other people don't disturb me, but it does nothing for the other people in my head. But because I write in the morning, I make sure I'm not distracted by my own mind. I haven't checked my emails yet. I haven't started anything else. I don't get millions of ideas about other stuff. My mind is focusing on writing, and nothing else.
Every time you're writing (or working on anything else) and not going in the zone, ask yourself what is distracting you.
Is it because you had the temptation to check your emails? Block them.
Is it because of outside noise? Block it.
Is it because you were distracted by your own mind? Choose a moment of the day when it's clear, or clear it before by journaling or meditating (I do both).
“I Face Writer's Blocks All The Time. I Can't Write.”
Are you used to stare at a blank screen, with the blinking cursor seeming to mock at you?
I was too.
Until I learned about the Two-Flow Theory from Scott H. Young.
This theory taught me that creativity is separated into two separate processes: Creation and Destruction.
The first process is about creating your content. Writing. ONLY about writing. No editing, no modification, you just write and never go back.
The second process is about perfecting your writing. You don't create anything, but instead destruct the bad to make it good. This is when you edit and improve your writing.
When I write the first draft of an article, I don't care about the quality of my writing. It may be good, bad, it may not even make proper sense. So what?
The important is to get the writing done, to get the ideas and the stories articulated as words. I will improve it later. It will be much easier because I won't have anything new to create.
When you face the writer's block, it's because you try to make your writing perfect at the first shot. Don't. You're trying to do both processes at the same time and it can't work.
You can't have a creative and a destructive mental state at the same time.
Instead, start to write anything that comes to your mind. It will suck. No worries. Write your first paragraph badly, move on, get yourself in the flow and write your 1,000 words. Tomorrow, you will improve the quality of it.
Can you talk?
If you can talk, then you can write. The words that come from your mouth may not be organized or structured and that's okay.
Talk to your computer, partner, cat, baby, and explain to him what you want to write. At the same time, write exactly the words you're saying. It will get you started.
Actually, you could even do this technique by recording you and transcribing later what you're saying (this could even be outsourced). Give it a try if writer's block is a big problem to you.
Finally, a last tip that helped me was to write in a notebook with a pen. I'm not sure why, but this helped me to fight writer's block when I was started (I don't do it anymore as I don't have this problem anymore).
I'm guessing it's because you don't have the distractions of the computer. There is only you, your pen and the notebook. Also, the act of writing wires your brain in a different way than when you're typing on the computer. It makes you more involved in the writing.
Sometimes, I found myself completely immersed in the writing, the same way you can go very deep in a fiction book. You forget about yourself, and when you “wake up”, you've read, or written, dozens of pages at once.
If nothing else has worked for you, can try writing in a notebook as a last resort.
My Framework to Consistently Write 1,000 Words A Day and Massively Produce Remarkable Content
In the previous sections, I gave you the tools to write a lot every day.
Every excuse has been tackled:
- What if you're not a good enough writer?
- What if you don't have time to write?
- What if writing hundreds of words seem impossible to you?
- What if you don't know what to write?
PLUS a bonus section about habits, focus, and my techniques to never face writer's block.
In this last section, I will explain how I gather all these tools into a magic framework to make writing every day super easy.
Suppose I'm writing very detailed, in-depth, articles that are all 5000-word long. With my framework, I can write one of those every week.
Day 1: Draw a super detailed outline.
The first day is all about writing the outline. That's the only thing I do, but I do it extremely well. The goal of the outline is to help you through the entire writing process. If you do it well, the writing will be smooth. If not, you will struggle at every step of the way.
The more detailed, the better. Because my articles are very long, I don't write a 50-word outline. Oh no no no! I'm writing a HUGE AND ENORMOUS OUTLINE of 1000 words.
Yes, super detailed. When I do that, the writing is then super easy.
In this outline, I will have a sub-headline (don't try to make the headlines perfect yet) for each section plus a paragraph explaining what I talk about in it. I will write the idea, but also what examples I will give, what stories I will tell, who I will quote, etc.
I write it the same way I talk. I imagine myself explaining how my article will look like to a friend. You could even record yourself doing it!
I'm literally talking to my computer and transcribing at the same time.
Great, I have now a super detailed outline! By the way, I don't have an issue choosing a topic since I have a list of article ideas sitting on my computer, that I generate every day, one at a time. Now, let's starting writing for real.
Day 2 to 5: First phase of writing.
This is the first phase of writing.
That is the hardest part. Actually, starting to write every day is the hardest part, but hopefully you've used some of the strategies I explained above to get the habit. Once I start, I get in the zone very quickly and don't stop writing.
Because I'm writing 1,000 words every day, I have 4,000 words written in those 4 days.
Make sure to write an amount of words you're capable too. I started with only 500 words a day and slowly increased. If you're not confident, you could even start at 100. The most important is to start.
Also, because what's hard is to start, cheat your brain by telling him you will write only 100. If after 100 words you can't bear writing more, stop there and be honest with your brain (you want to have a healthy relationship with him).
However, more often than not, you will actually write several hundreds of words before stopping.
Week one is finished and the writing is done. I take my weekend off, rest, and next week I will:
- Edit and improve this article.
- Start a new article (so that I keep writing consistently).
Day 6: Extensive phase of research
I don't do any research before the first phase of writing.
This ensures that I'm writing from my unique point of view, instead of writing a mix of the research I would have done beforehand.
The only “research” I do during the writing is when I want to add a link or a reference I already know. I quickly find the article I want and it helps the writing. Not even sure we could call that research, and I don't necessarily recommend doing it, since it can easily become a distraction.
However, it's still important to do a phase of research to improve what you write.
Yes, your point of view is important, but it will be strengthened if you can back it up with data and solid other references.
Additionally, you simply can't think about everything. Sometimes you think your article is exhaustive, until you do some research and finds a lot of stuff is missing.
The research will help you improve and complete your writing, but make sure the basis of the article comes from you!
How to do research? Simply, take each problem you're solving in the article, or each section of it, and google about it as if you were a neophyte.
For example, I could research “How to do research for a blog post” for this subsection.
Doing research is like collecting a bunch of resources and links, so it can very quickly become overwhelming.
To avoid that, select carefully what you want to keep and throw away the rest. Remember that quality beats quantity. Also, make sure to take a lot of notes, otherwise you'll have a lot of work in the next few days to revisit all these links you found.
If a reference you find is directly related to a specific section of your article (which is often the case), put it as a comment. It will make the next phase super easy.
Oh, by the way, I forgot to mention it, but since you're continuing writing 1,000 words every day, it means that Day 6 is also Day 1 for the next article. I'm writing an outline for Article B and doing research for Article A.
Day 7 to 8: Second Phase of Writing.
Don't worry about this phase of writing. This is the easiest and most fun part of the process (at least in my opinion)!
The first phase was hard because you were CREATING something from nothing.
The second phase is super easy because you have nothing to create. All you do is IMPROVE what you already have.
Remember that we completely separate the writing from the editing. When you write, just write and do nothing else. Your sentence doesn't make sense? I don't care, keep writing, the idea is here.
In this second phase, we will take this sentence that doesn't make sense and give it sense.
I usually open a second Google Doc and rewrite everything. I ask myself the following question:
Will my readers have excuses for not taking action? If yes, how can I solve this problem? The same question reframed can be: If I were reading this, why would I not do it?
This helps me notice if anything is missing in my article. Of course, because I did my research the day before, I get new ideas about what's missing and what's not.
If necessary, I tweak the structure to add the missing sections.
Then, I start rewriting. I take every paragraph and ask myself how to improve it.
Usually, a good way to improve it to show instead of tell.
For example, Bryan Harris recommends using the phrase “For Example” (see?). It will help you to go much deeper in your article by giving a lot of specific situations your readers can relate to, instead of writing vague theory.
Another way to show is simply to add a lot of pictures that show what you're telling.
I'm not talking about placing a stock photo of a forest if you're talking about forests. No no no.
If you're telling a story of how you went through X, then put a picture of yourself going through X. For example, in this article I posted a screenshot of my own emails asking for advice to other bloggers. When I talked about me journaling, you could find a photo of my journal.
Put pictures that endorse what you're saying. I didn't stop at saying “You should write longer articles”, but I showed with a picture from Buzzsumo that the longer the article, the more shared it is.
Why only two days for this phase?
Because it's much easier than the first phase, I tend to do 2,500 words per day. The rewriting tends to transform the initial 4,000 words into 5,000.
Day 9: It's time to wrap it up!
I love Day 9, and not only because he's a fabulous youtuber! Day 9 is the end of the journey.
It's time to polish the article and make it perfect.
It's time for an ultimate re-reading to make sure there is no glitch.
That's also when I add the pictures (before, I write in caps where to put them).
It's also time to pat yourself on your back. You've done a very good job and have an amazing 5,000-word long article ready to be published.
What if you think you could make your article even better?
Sometimes, I spend two weeks writing an article and it still doesn't feel good enough. It's good, yes, but is it outstanding?
I feel I could spend another two weeks to make it even better.
Be very careful if you're like that. It's tempting to keep working on your article until it is 100% perfect, but you don't know when it ends.
You've already spent two weeks on a single article, you've done extensive research, you have 5,000 words written down, which is more than 99% of the content out there.
Most of the time, we simply need to take a step back to realize that we indeed wrote good content. Send your article to a couple of your friends and their “Whooaaa!” should convince you.
After two weeks, I consider it's time to hit publish and move on with your next articles.
When to deviate from this framework? All the time. This framework is here to give you a step-by-step structure, so that you always know what's the next step. It's only indications, but feel free to do the way you want, of course.
I don't exactly follow this framework. For example, this article took me three weeks to finish it. The first draft was 6000-word long, but I took more than a couple days to improve it. If you're interested in knowing how I did this first draft, you can access it here.
Because I worked a lot on it, I considered it was worth spending extra days on it to make it really really good. It's always hard to find the right trade-off between good enough and perfectionism.
Your Next Step
You've just read a 10,000-word long article filled with tons of information. If you feel overwhelmed and don't know what to do, that's totally normal.
This section is here to help you figure out what your next step is and what you should do with this content (pro-tip: If you've come so far, you don't want this to be just another thing you've read but never implemented).
The first thing you can do is to give a try to my writing framework. To help you do so, I have created a 1-page summary of the framework you can download for free by clicking here.
Once downloaded, you can print it and keep it on your desk, or pin it on your wall, so that you always have the framework before your eyes and never be stuck again with your writing.
Second, I would like you to leave a comment below. If you've read so far, that's because writing is important for you and you've been struggling with it.
Tell me your writing goals and the difficulties you have. I will personally help you overcome them if you leave a comment.