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The 'Five Hundred Word Technique' - how starting easy helps me write thousands of words a day without stress
Mastery Den, Tuesday Edition, 4-min read.
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I have committed to writing many books and want to expand my writing contribution to being one of the most prolific writers on the planet.
This means writing a LOT of words every day as part of my routine. I am working up to five thousand words per day.
(I'm not even kidding - hold me to this, guys).
But this morning, I didn't feel like writing at all.
Better buck my ideas up, Alex. Less slacking, buddy.
But how do we find that zing-a-ding-ding motivation to write plenty if we can't even push ourselves to write a line?
Plus, two months ago, I quit caffeine outright. This has disrupted my morning writing routine to the extent that I missed many mornings completely. It has been awful. I'd sit there looking at a screen for an hour at a time sometimes. Procrastinating. Just no interest in new ideas.
After some weeks, I realised that the pleasant, motivating buzz accompanying drinking coffee would not return like it once did.
This forced me to get creative to ensure I was putting out a good number of words every day.
What I found was something I've tried on and off over years. But it's now a crucial component of my daily routine.
Every morning, I act on one non-negotiable commitment. It sets off the topple of dominoes that leads to significant daily word counts, but it also helps me get into writing with less slacking.
And that is to write at least five hundred words first thing.
I call this word-writing session, 'writing gymnastics.'
These words go in a separate, sacred document with one primary purpose of getting filled with five hundred words.
I don't care how bad the words are or how meaningless.
I don't care if it's complete gobbledygook.
I don't care if it feels like I'm wasting my time as I write them.
I don't care how many other 'more important things' I have going on that day that I 'should' be prioritising.
These words get written.
These five hundred words are my new cup of coffee.
And if you're on coffee, they might be your new crack.
They loosen me up and get my ideas moving.
At the heart of it, this session loosens me up. I am no longer thinking about writing and in fear. I am writing. That holds tremendous power because now we are witnessing ourselves doing the thing we were procrastinating on before. This is monumental. And there's no pressure.
AND it counts towards my daily 5000 words (if I ever get there).
Yes it does.
How freeing and exciting is that? You mean I get to type out total trash for fifteen minutes every morning, and it counts?
But won't this just make me a bad writer?
No, free writing like this is a warm-up, and warm-ups lead to more motion and more effective productivity.
I often surprise myself with what helpful ideas pop up (often in quick succession) as I'm writing like this.
It's like my brain is saying, 'See, Alex - I TOLD you you have a ton of GREAT ideas waiting to come out but that you'd never get to them unless you did some writing gymnastics this morning and just had faith that when you write, the ideas come.'
If you're struggling in that first writing phase when you know you must write but are just not into it...
Know that millions of others feel the same.
And what I've shared here could be a potential solution for you.
All you need to do is set up a fresh document daily and honour this regular commitment of writing five hundred words.
There's no pressure here, except to get the words down and to mark it down somewhere that you've done it. When you write in this spirit of 'I am not fussed about what comes up and whether what I write makes any sense,' you might surprise yourself. You're loose and relaxed. This is where the ideas come.
I'd argue this is the most essential phase in anyone's writing day.
When writing your five hundred words, you may find that lots of ideas come up about what your next article or fiction piece could include.
Write those out as they appear in a separate list, document, or notepad. You'll want access to these ideas later, so you don't have to dig around in this block of text you're building.
With this five hundred words under your belt for the day, this will be accompanied by a sense of warmth and accomplishment that absolutely can be seen as an accomplishment. Being a great writer is about being great at loosening your mind. So this session counts towards this and must be cherished.
Five hundred words might sound like a lot, but when you type fast, which you should, you'll find you can squeeze this into a ten to fifteen-minute session.
This is far better than fifteen minutes of procrastinating on YouTube.
If you want to be a prolific writer (or creator, for that matter), perhaps a daily five hundred-word free write is just what the doctor ordered.
P.S. I show you how I use powerful written words to grow my online audience to over 150,000 through my ‘Online Writing Alchemy‘ course, which you get for free when you sign up as a paying Mastery Den Substack member below.
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