What I accomplished by writing an hour a day for most of a year

My goal for the past few years has been to write for an hour a day, every day. If I write for an hour and want to keep going, then I can–there’s no upper limit aside from what the day demands in other obligations.

I was hit or miss for much of that time. Writing in the evening was hard after a long day of work and often there would be a rehearsal or a show or a social event that would sabotage me. For a while I tried waking up early and writing for an hour before my nine to five. I loved this because it liberated me for the rest of the day–my real work was done, the rest was easy. But waking up at 6am was not easy for me, mostly because I have trouble going to sleep before midnight.

But in July I quit my job to do freelance consulting instead and this freed up my schedule. So since then I’ve written almost every morning for 1-3 hours. I probably miss it once a week, maybe two if I’m traveling or have the flu.

I can’t recommend this method highly enough, if you can swing it. It trains your brain to be ready to write every day and the sheer force of habit means that I just sort of show up at the cafe near my house every morning, no matter what my mental state is (half-asleep, hungover, feeling good, hungry, whatever).

And at the end of the year, I like to look back at my writing folder on my laptop to see what I did, because at any given moment there’s a 75% chance that I feel like I haven’t accomplished much lately. This is what I produced this year (quality varies, of course):

  • A full-length play (later adapted to a one-act play)
  • Another short play
  • A 20-page treatment for a screenplay
  • A 20-page outline for a screenplay
  • A 117-page screenplay (on the 2nd draft now, not quite complete)
  • A 12-page short film
  • A dozen or so sketches, plus many one-line jokes for The Radio Television Theater Hour
  • A six-episode treatment for a web series (around 15 pages)
  • Four short treatments for feature films
  • Five or six short satirical pieces
  • A hundred or so headlines for my (rejected) Onion News Network submission packet
  • Assorted brainstorming, journal entries, and other ideas that went nowhere

I’m not putting this out there to show off. It’s not special, it’s just what happens when you show up every day. Give it a try.