Why You Should Write Daily

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 my 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Tell us what you wrote about today.

[Ed. Note: Leo Babauta is the owner of ZenHabits.net, a website devoted to providing clear and concise wisdom on how to simplify your life. He’s also the author of, The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential, in Business and in Life.]
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  • I keep a journal and it has become a habit to write every day. In fact, I write as and when ideas occur, many times a day. I even mention the correct time.

  • Writing is my passion, and yet I haven’t journaled in many months. I have gotten out of sync with writing due to technology and its mesmerizing way of eating time and talent. Typing will never take the place of writing. The synthesis of the head and hand connecting on the page. When I read over entries in my numerous journals, some bring tears to my eyes, as they reflect moments of life that would not have been captured or expressed but for writing of them…the pivotal times on my journey through the cancers of my husband, the births of my children and grandchildren, wonderful vacations and travel adventures, the passages of life, and my enhanced spirituality through retreat experiences both in silence and in sharing. Why have I let this happen; this addiction to a machine? It is disheartening. My poetry writing has stopped, my journaling has ceased, and even my calligraphy works. Personal notes written on a regular basis have been my one written expression; not enough!

    I was told by a successfully published writer, that I have a book to write. But where to begin is the stumbling block. I have files of letters I have written, completed journals sitting on a book shelf, and experiences of living and loving that could possibly enthuse and delight readers…but more than this, could free me from the haunting pain of beginning to do it. It takes a decision; I must decide.

    • Thomas

      Hi Rosanne,
      I feel like I just have to reply to your beautifully written comment even though I didn’t know exactly what to say.
      Your short note tells me that you have lived a rich life, full of experiences that would make for a wonderful and possibly inspiring story. I don’t know the first thing about writing a book but I do know that when we are driven to do something, it’s usually our life purpose trying to get out and we owe it to ourselves to go for it.
      If you believe you have a book inside you waiting to get out then please start writing, you can figure it all out as you go along.
      This morning at 430 a.m. I chose to follow the advice of this article and start writing. What a load of rubbish it turned out to be but I’m going to try at it again tomorrow and the next day until I have the confidence to start my own blog which helps people like me who are trying to find their way through life.
      I hope you do ‘decide’ to write, I just have a gut feeling you have a lot to give this world through sharing your life experiences.
      One more thing, grandparents and the elders of our community are of tremendous value. We no longer show them the respect they deserve and we no longer take the time to listen to their advice gleaned over a lifetime of experience. Think of your writing as a gift to your children, grandchildren and the generations yet to come.

  • Jonny H

    6/7/2013 6:07 PM
    This is not the right time, and it may only be for a few lines, but I am starting today, and I am not going to miss a day.
    It doesn’t matter how much or how little, I absolutely must write something every day. More is better, but that will come.

  • Noreen

    I know I need to do this. Writing has always been a struggle for me. I remember in 1st grade having anxiety about not knowing what story to make up for an assignment. I know this struggle has held me back in life. If the teacher only used essay writing as an assessment tool of what I learned in the course, I knew I was to only earn a B+. If the assessments were multiple choice, fill in the blanks, plus essays, etc., an A+ was very possible. If I was searching for employment and writing reports was a requirement, I didn’t even bother applying. So I am going to try to write a decent post daily at +Noreen Veffer on Google plus. Why there? Probably because those who are following me have never met me.