200 crappy words a day.
That’s all it takes to move the needle forward in your writing.
I’m often asked the best ways to start writing, and then, how to improve it.
My answer is always the same: 200 crappy words a day.
I can’t remember where I originally heard it from. A quick Google search points to a story told by Mark Manson about a prolific writer who’d created 70+ novels. That amount of output is no mean feat. His answer to the method behind the madness was simple: 200 crappy words a day.
What happens is always something special. By lowering the barrier to ‘crappy’, you take away all expectations. All you need to do is write.
It also takes away the fear of bad writing. The hardest bit about writing isn’t writing. It’s sitting down to do it daily without fear. Fear of writing something you won’t like. Yet, it’s in this writing of 200 crappy words you always stumble across a few golden sentences, a ground breaking idea, and if you’re lucky, flow state to keep you writing for 1000+ words.
I always think to the best creative geniuses of our past, and their courage to ship daily. Tupac Shakur comes to mind. In the space of five years, he created a dozen albums (and in total produced somewhere around 700-900 songs), eight films, music videos and even two books of poetry – all by the age of 25. Mind boggling.
Tupac’s best work changed the face of the music industry. But what we forget is that he also had clunkers and flops. Bad songs that no one remembers, or lyrics that don’t make any sense.
Yet the real question is: would songs like California Love, Dear Mama and Ambitions Az A Ridah have come without these flops?
Probably not. The presence of the remarkable often renders the rest irrelevant.
That’s why 200 crappy words a day works. Because it gives you permission to produce bad writing. It also gives you permission to stop at 200 (I’m now at 339).
What will happen over the days and weeks is you’ll get a bit better each time, and most importantly, you’ll find your authentic voice.
Write 200 crappy words a day from the heart and watch the magic unfold.