Why you maybe should and probably shouldn’t write 500 words a day

I used to think it was a bad idea, but now I’m not totally sure

David Kadavy
Apr 27, 2016 · 3 min read

Each weekday morning in April, I’ve written and published a 500-word article on Medium.

I’ve long thought it was a bad idea to have a quota for how often a person publishes. On kadavy.net, I publish rarely, and when I do, it’s usually an article I’ve worked on for weeks. Sometimes, the results are explosive.

But, I recently spent 3 months writing and thinking for several hours a day, and didn’t publish any of it. (It was a book proposal.) I needed to shake of my publishing cobwebs.

Now that I’ve tried this experiment, I’m not so sure it’s a bad idea to publish on a particular schedule. I’m also still not sure it’s a good idea.

Here’s why it might be a great idea to publish a 500-word article every day:

  • Overcome The Fortress Fallacy: I had many articles kept in my brain that I was just “working on.” Like imaginary fortresses, I got to fantasize about how great they were going to be, even though I may never build them. By forcing myself to publish them, I got those ideas out there. The articles were short enough, I could always write a more in-depth article about the same subject later.
  • Embrace Constraints: There was something very powerful about having a scheduled time, and a prescribed length for each article. I might have normally obsessed over details that may not have made a difference, and I was forced to be more to-the-point with my writing.
  • Start the Feedback Loop: By getting short versions of my ideas out there, I immediately got to see what resonated with people, and what fell flat. Medium is especially good for this, because of the highlighting feature.
  • The Shipping Bias: The mechanics of the Internet are such that success favors those who ship. There are people who crank out absolute garbage, but they’re successful because their stuff is at least out there. I got lots of nice comments from readers about how I was cranking out good stuff, and a few cool-ish things happened that may not have happened otherwise.
  • How the f*ck does medium work? I now have some sense of how the mystery that is Medium actually works. I know there’s a certain percentage of “likes” that is quite good for an article. This seems to act on a curve: Your “like” percentage goes down as you get more views. I also know that I still have no clue how a Medium article goes viral. (60 likes out of 919 views, one of my best showings, is apparently not enough.)

I was going to also tell you in this article about the reasons I think it’s a bad idea to write a 500-word article every day, but now I’ve run out of words.

Looks like I’ll have to tell you tomorrow. (UPDATE: Why you shouldn’t write 500 words a day.)

One of the good things about writing 500 words a day is rapid feedback. Jason Fried talked on my podcast about how he gets rapid feedback by live-demoing Basecamp in front of hundreds of companies. Subscribe on iTunes.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade