A Transparent Look at My Writing Schedule That Produced 30M Views, as Inspiration for Your Own
These are the habits, tools, calendar schedule, writer’s to follow, etc., it took to reach 30M views and earn six-figures as a blogger.
You hate me for that headline. I get it. Here’s what we can do: Forget the money and don’t worry about the views.
The only reason I’m still writing has nothing to do with money or views. It has to do with what your writing can do for those who read it. You can literally do anything as a writer.
What no one tells you is that you’ve got to show up for long enough to see what writing has the power to do.
Let’s cut to the chase, writing can bring meaning to your life, inspire others to consider a different perspective and change your life in many tiny, insignificant ways that you’ll perhaps never even realize.
To be able to achieve all of these incredible outcomes in your life that stem from writing, you’ll need a writing schedule, a workspace that supports your writing, a few tools, and some repetitive habits. Here’s an example of each that you can use as inspiration (or you can directly copy if you choose).
Even Picasso had a schedule. Now I’m no Picasso before you assume that I’m comparing myself to him. Far from it, except the nose maybe.
My current writing schedule that I follow like a religion is set out below.
Writing on Thursdays and Sundays
I write two full days a week from about 9 am until 5 pm just like a job (thinking of writing as a job can be helpful).
Each story is written one after another with a 30-minute break in between every two stories. These breaks are used to hydrate, go to the bathroom, and talk with my girlfriend.
By batching all of your writing into two days, you get the benefit of not having to deal with task-switching.
Task-switching is where you change the types of activities you do, frequently. The problem with switching activities is that each one has a different energy and frame of mind. The frame of mind you need to write from nothing is very different from the frame of mind you need to record a video or edit a story.
By keeping the same activities batched together, you maximize your energy and your ability to execute. This makes getting started on the writing easier and keeping at it for a sustained period of time far more likely to occur.
Editing on Mondays and Tuesdays
The ability to sit back and judge your work is difficult. Editing requires you to be your own critic and admit when you’re wrong or need to add more to a story. We think of editing as cleaning up a story but often it’s about removing parts of a blog post that aren’t required.
Saying less when you write actually says more.
I edit four out of eight stories on a Monday night at 7:00 p.m. and the other four on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. It takes about two hours each day to complete the task, although it’s not an exact science. Some weeks, when in flow, I can edit all eight stories in one night.
Fellow writer Dan Moore recently inspired me to take editing to the next level. What I’m experimenting with is editing a story on a Monday or Tuesday and then letting it sit for a day before giving it one more read.
It’s easy to miss really obvious mistakes in your writing and multiple proof-reads can help with the problem if you don’t have someone to read your work — or like me, if you find adding an editor into the process stops you from publishing your work or adds an unwanted second opinion that clouds the initial idea for a story.
Research in-between Tuesday and Thursday
(The sub-heading really should read “research when you’re not writing/editing.”) Research is a relatively new piece to my writing schedule.
It’s nothing to overthink and many writers are scared by it. All research is from my perspective is this:
- Finding quotes from people who inspire you.
- Collecting a few facts you can scatter in your stories occasionally.
- Discovering documentaries you will enjoy and then using the lessons from them as a standalone story or as a section in a story.
- Reading your favorite writers to hear their differing opinions.
- Sitting on the toilet and reading a quality publication like “The New Yorker.”
The research phase can be one of the most enjoyable parts if you see it that way and execute on it appropriately. I’ve found that every situation, movie, podcast, book, lesson, holiday, and person I meet is research.
Living life is research for your writing.
Looking for picture porn perfection on Sundays
On Sundays, I typically wake up at 6:00 a.m. and prepare for the relaxing task of being inspired by photography and illustration. It takes an hour of procrastination before I get started at around 7:00 a.m. looking for photos.
A good picture is more about your initial reaction and how it makes you feel above all. You know when you’ve found the right photo to match your story because you keep going back to that one image.
The colors of an image are something I pay close attention to. Different colors cause different emotions and I try to account for that when choosing an image.
Teeny-weeny social media posts on Thursdays
At around 4:00 p.m. on a Thursday, I start writing a few short social media posts to be shared on LinkedIn.
Social media posts seem to flow in both directions. Some social media posts inspire blog posts, and other times a blog post inspires a social media post. Either way, the art of social media posts is highly beneficial for the writing process.
The ugly car salesman art of promotion on Fridays
Every Friday I send an email to my 40,000+ subscribers to let them know what the most shared blog post of the week is and how it might help them in their daily lives.
Not everybody is glued to their devices waiting for you to hit publish.
A gentle email once a week helps people know you’re alive and haven’t died from a Snickers bar induced sugar stroke. You feel like a car salesman trying to sell a 1978 Honda Civic without an exhaust pipe, but don’t let that feeling stop you.
It’s okay to promote your writing; just be genuine about it and leave your inflated ego at the local nightclub under the disco ball.
Clapping loudly seven days a week
The final part of my writing schedule is reading other writers to learn from them and be inspired by their stories.
I practice reading other writers seven days a week, at all times of the day, and remember to clap loudly on their stories as often as possible (ideally until the daily clap limit is reached — you can then turn to Twitter and retweet them if you’re really keen). These are the writers I’m clapping a lot lately:
- John P Weiss
- Julia E Hubbel
- Brianna Wiest
- Sean Kernan
- Jessica Wildfire
Having a workspace that compliments your work is important too. The area you work in affects your mental headspace and that impacts your writing. Here are a few things I recommend.
Wear cotton pants like a bum
I always wear cotton pants in my workspace (OK, Tim, you weirdo!). There’s something about the silky smooth texture of cotton on my tooshie that makes me comfortable. Writing in comfort helps you write longer.
Add some WeWork greenery
Sprinkle a little bit of nature in your workspace with a pot plant or two.
You don’t have to work in a WeWork office to be inspired my indoor plants. They’re hip and cool for a reason, they bring peace to your environment and clean the air.
No reminders of a 9–5 job insight
Remove briefcases, work shoes, suits, work phones, work laptops, or any other item that reminds you of your day job.
Thinking about the stress of your day job is destructive to a healthy writing schedule. Out of sight out of mind, as they say.
Removal of plastic bricks
While we’re on it, put your hands up, hand over your personal phone and have it in another room so it doesn’t kill your writing dreams. If you have a watch and it has apps, that needs to go too.
You can’t write words to change the world with notifications interrupting your precious thought patterns. Drop your phone and give me twenty.
A Marry Poppins style desk
Make your desk so clean that Mary Poppins herself would be impressed by what you learned in childhood.
Shine that beautiful machine of a desk with wet wipes and respect its right to be clean and free from coffee stains and papers that should be scanned and placed in the recycle bin.
A writing schedule also needs tools to help “make the magic happen,” as they say. These are all the tools I use and there are no affiliate links or secret commissions just in case you’re wondering.
- A 2005 Aeron Office Chair (dust not included)
- Trello to map out editing, writing, publication pitches, pictures needed, and eBook timelines (I never meet deadlines, but one must try, right?)
- Grammarly because I make more mistakes than a six-year-old child who is yet to begin studying English
- A free Outlook account (missed the boat on Gmail)
- ConvertKit for sending out mass emails to promote my work
- The New Yorker app to see what high-quality writing looks and how far I still need to come (it’s a carrot and you’re the bunny rabbit)
- A Stripe account because a homie likes to get paid from the numerous ways there are to earn a living from writing (shall I list ‘em again?)
- A pair of Sennheiser headphones from 2006-ish to help block out noise and get into the flow
- A cup of moderately priced Nescafe instant coffee to get my mind revved up for flow states that are to follow
- The Saljo George Title Case Converter to make the headline right
Here is my bookmarks toolbar as inspiration for how to layout your own for easy access. Try to remove social media links (LinkedIn slipped into my toolbar…oops).
A good writing schedule is built on the foundation of habits. The habits I focus on to produce my current writing results are below.
Write one thing per day and channel Seth Godin
I try and exercise my writing muscle every single day. Often it’s just writing notes to myself or capturing ideas. Always be writing, as they say (or I say).
Best-selling author Seth Godin writes daily on his blog and has been for years. He attributes this practice as being helpful for him making sense of the world through writing.
Respond to reader’s messages
Respect the people who support your work. Readers pay you with their time and you must respect them or they’ll stop paying you — and perhaps turn to social media to express their outrage and persuade others to do the same.
It takes nothing to send a short reply or acknowledge a reader’s existence. Be kind, and surprise and delight readers where you can.
Practice non-spiritual gratitude
When we think of gratitude, we often think of dudes with long hair sitting by the beach and pretending they studied to be a monk before high-fiving Jay Shetty at the airport in London.
Gratitude, as a writer, is simply being humble for where you are right now and appreciating how far you’ve come and far you have to go. A writer’s journey is never complete and it pays to be incredibly humble.
Spend time in complete silence
Writers are plagued by thoughts like “Am I enough?” and “What the freaking hell do I have to say that’s so damn remarkable?”
All of us suffer from these same destructive thoughts now and then. Writing that impacts readers is hard work and requires courage, which can feel like walking down the street with Adam and Eve’s gifts exposed for the world to see and point at.
Time spent in silence is the antidote to a noisy mind.
My Ideal Writing Day
Let’s finish on a high with a look at what an ideal writing day looks like for me. It’s obviously not like this every single time but it’s pretty close and will help you think about your own writing schedule and process.
- Wake up at 6:00 a.m.
- Drink coffee at 6:30 a.m.
- Procrastinate until 7:00 a.m.
- Go to the gym at 7:00 a.m. to wake up the brain and bring out the endorphins
- Return from the gym by 7:30 a.m.
- Take a warm shower at 7:40 a.m. to induce more flow state magic
- Read until 8:55 a.m.
- Queue the music at 8:59 a.m.
- Start writing at 9:00 a.m.
- Have lunch at 12:00 p.m.
- Finish writing by 5:00 p.m.
- Reward myself with dinner or a movie until 9:00 p.m.
- Go to bed by 10:00 p.m.
So there you have it. That is the schedule, workspace design, tools, and habits that helped me produce 30M views and earn six figures as a writer.
It’s a simple process that might help your own writing flourish, or to finally get started writing if you haven’t already. Anyone can be a writer, including you, with the right process to support your goal.