A man writing on a notepad in a cafe.

How to Become a Better Writer With One Simple Habit

Matt Fish
5 min readFeb 2, 2021

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When you love writing more than anything else, it’s all you think about. Or, at least, that’s how my brain works. From the moment I wake up in the morning to the moment I fall asleep at night, I’m either writing (which I’m lucky enough to do for a living in a marketing capacity) or stirring a rich stew of story ideas, sometimes at a simmer and others at a vigorous boil.

In short, writing is part of my DNA.

But, even though I’d be writing for the majority of my seven-hour workdays, I wasn’t able to get my hands on the keys outside of that commitment and make meaningful progress on my side projects. I’d turn ideas for characters or scenes or even entire plots over and over in my head, only to squirt out an insignificant amount of prose into one of my many in-progress documents. I began to get frustrated to the point that I considered myself a failure.

Why wasn’t I able to sit down and write the novel, screenplay, blog post, or another piece that’d been percolating for an eternity?

And why, at a time when I and everyone else was strongly discouraged, if not outright banned, from seeing each other in public, was I unable to get these ideas out of my system? Lack of social interactions with friends and family aside (which I did and still do miss dearly), this much is true: The amount of time I could’ve devoted to writing was substantial.

So, this year, I promised myself I’d change all that and, if nothing else, hold myself accountable by writing 300,000 words in 2021 — roughly six times the length of The Great Gatsby.

To make things even more interesting, I decided the total wouldn’t include anything written or edited as part of my day job. It’s a word count that’s reserved for personal projects or freelance contract work only and, in essence, a direct reflection of how serious I was about pursuing the craft I hold in such high esteem and, ultimately, becoming a better writer long-term.

Well, after one month (and, yes, I know it’s early), but the result are encouraging. I’m on track to meet my quarterly goal of 75,000 words, all without staying up until (or, even worse, waking up at) four in the morning. I’ve even taken a handful of days off during those first 31 days and, for the first…

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Matt Fish

Writer, content creator, music obsessive, DJ, currently sitting down.