In 1998, Jerry Seinfeld earned $267 million in one year. Ten years later, he still pulled in $85 million a year. He’s one of the top comedians of all time, however you want to measure success.
In an interview with Lifehacker, a young comedian called Brad Isaac shared what happened when he ran into Seinfeld backstage and asked if he had “any tips for a young comic.”
“He said the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day.
“He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker. He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day.
“After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job is to not break the chain.”
Guess what Seinfeld didn’t mention at all? Results.
He didn’t say anything about making better jokes or getting booked or being successful.
He didn’t say anything about motivation.
He didn’t mention anything about the jokes getting laughs.
None of that matters.
All that matters is not breaking the chain.
How to Write a Book
I want you to do the same as Jerry Seinfeld—without the jokes (unless you want to write a book of jokes, in which case, have at it).
Get a wall calendar or print off a habit tracker sheet. When you’ve written your words for the day, you can put a big red X over that day. This is what I do—and it works. I cannot break that chain because the idea of having a blank spot in the chain, mocking me, is utterly unbearable.
Before you know it, you’ll have built a writing habit—and your writing will get better and better without you even noticing.
This is how you write a great book.
Oh, there are other things you’ll need to learn (and I can and will help you with those if you want me to) but until you’re writing consistently, none of these other things will help you.
Writing a Book by Stealth
I want you to do this challenge because sitting down to write a book is hard. Really hard. I’m a writer and the idea fills me with horror. It’s even harder if you consider yourself to be “not a writer”.
(You are, but we’ll come to that another time.)
And as for time—who’s got time to write a whole book when you have a business to run and a family to take care of and sleep to snatch?
And what on earth would you write about anyway?
Well, you don’t need to write a whole book all at once.
You don’t need to be a professional writer (that happens when you write).
And you don’t have to put aside hours each day—all you need is 20 minutes.
As for what to write about: I’ve got that covered in this challenge.
How it Works
We’ll start by disengaging from your goal.
You want to write a book? GREAT! I’m ridiculously excited for you. Now you’ve made that decision, and set your goal, step away from it. This challenge isn’t about reaching your goal, it’s about creating a habit that will serve you for the rest of your life.
(Bold claim? Maybe. But it’s true, and I’ll prove it.)
Here’s how the 29-Day Challenge works.
- Sign up for the challenge for free below.
- Make sure you receive the email and click the link to confirm—otherwise you won’t get the daily email hints, tips, and writing prompts.
- Print off the Writing Tracker I link to in the email and stick it on your wall next to your face, so you can’t miss it.
- Read the daily email (it’ll arrive at around 6 am) and use the writing prompt inside it (or simply empty your brain onto a blank page).
- Write at least 500 words per day for at least 29 days (and I hope you’ll carry on)—and when you’ve finished, put a big red X on that day to mark it off. Give yourself a round of applause.
- Join the 1,000 Authors Facebook group for accountability, encouragement, and daily writing ideas.
Writing Challenge Tips
- Just write—even if you think it’s bad. You don’t have to show anyone (but it’s cool if you want to).
- Get a writing partner so you can keep yourselves accountable.
- Post in the Facebook group and tell people you’ve written your words. If you want to share your words, do so—and ask for feedback if you want some.
- Encourage your fellow challengers with kind words and cheering—no criticism unless someone specifically asks for it.
- Consider using something like 750words.com or Scrivener to write your daily words so you can keep track.
- Do use the tracker—it really does help. You won’t want to break your chain of red Xs.
- Remember books are written in Tiny Beetle Steps, not all in one go.
What You’ll Get
This writing challenge is unlike most others I’ve come across. It’s not about adding to the deafening cacophony that is content on the internet; it’s about creating a body of work you can use in your book—or in your email marketing, on your website, or elsewhere.
The writing prompts you’ll get in your inbox every day aren’t random. I’ve chosen them to help you tell your story in a way that people want to read.
You’ll begin to understand your true value and what writing a book will do for you and your readers and clients.
You will become a more confident, skilled writer (like anything else, writing gets better the more you do it).
And you’ll build a habit that will serve you for the rest of your life. Being able to move people with your words is the most valuable skill you’ll develop as a business owner—and as a human. As a good writer, you’ll be more persuasive, more articulate, and you’ll find you’re able to think and concentrate more easily.
And I promise you’ll enjoy yourself!