How Productive Writers Start The Day

how successful writers start the day

Do you want to know how successful writers start the day? It’s the key that answers this question:

What separates successful writers from average writers?  

Why is it that some people prolifically put out brilliant books, blog posts, articles or even tweets day after day, while so many others fail even to start?

I’ve been there myself:  I’ve come up with an idea for a book, imagined how beautiful it would look when published and thought to myself – sure I can do this, how hard can it be?

Ah, the five words that are sure to send you down a painful, tortuous path that ends with profound empathy, and lessons of how you and naive you once were:

“How hard can it be?”

Actually…Yes, Writing Well Is Hard

Well, as writers know – it IS hard.  And not because it’s physically difficult to move your hands and write: it’s what goes on in your head in figuring out what to write, and how to write it. As David McCullough said:

“Writing is thinking. To write well is to think clearly. That’s why it’s so hard.”

So,  the problem with writing is that it can be difficult to write well – and that can be immensely frustrating.

We stare at a blank screen and ah, an idea pops into our head!  We write a sentence, squint at it and decide – “No that’s no good” – delete, delete, delete. And now here we are back at a blank page.

Well, if you’ve struggled and want to know how successful writers start their days, look no further, because I’ve collected some of the best morning routines, rituals, and tips.

Morning Rituals For Writers

Let me cut to the chase:

They all involve writing.

The big secret is that these successful writers all start their day with a routine that optimizes for getting them to write. They all do it a little differently – so let’s dig in.

  • James Altucher, Entrepreneur and Bestselling Author: Altucher has written about how so much online stuff is small distractions that eat away with your time, and that if you put the writing off these distractions will consume you. You will never get much writing done. His secret: write before he does any “other online stuff.”    He reads for two hours – one of fiction, one hour of what he calls “good non-fiction” – and then 2-5 hours of writing.
  • Ernest Hemingway, Nobel Prize Winner: Hemingway used to write every morning as soon as it was light.  He reads what he has written so far, already having stopped somewhere where the next part was clear to him, and he would write until he reached another such point.  He would write as long as he could until he came to a place where he still had his “juice” – where he knew what would happen next.
  • Srinivas Rao, Podcast host and Bestselling Author: Rao has modified his routine a few times over the years.  The one constant though is he gets his mind right first and then immediately writes after that.  In the past that included surfing first thing in the morning. These days, his morning rituals include meditation and similar to James, reading before he writes to prime his mind, then writing. One habit that changed his life was writing 1000 words a day – it has led to book deals, speaking at conferences and opened up the world to him.

So, if you want to be a successful writer, how should you start your day?

Step 1:  Get Your Mind Ready

There are two things that make it difficult to build a writing habit. One is finding the time to do it, which is a whole other problem.

The other major issue that holds so many people back is the mental barrier.  It can be demoralizing, stressful – and with writer’s block, it can be difficult even to begin.

So try these three habits to help you get ready to write:

  • Clear your mind with Meditation.  Sometimes it’s difficult to focus because you have so many thoughts swirling through your mind.  Build a daily meditation habit – even starting with as little as one minute – to get centered and clear your mind
  • Prime your mind through reading.  Altucher and Rao both mentioned reading as part of a morning ritual that helped prime their mind for writing.  The one caveat: you should probably not start with blog posts or social media.  Read something that has more breadth and goes a little deeper into the subject. It doesn’t have to be what you’re writing about – just something that you can ready for 15-20 minutes to get engaged.
  • Start your day with movement. I know Rao liked to start his day surfing. Myself, I like to start with a little morning stretching or yoga sun salutations.  Another writer I look up to, Farnoosh Brock, likes to start her day with yoga as well – and I see her posting her morning yoga practice wherever she is traveling in the world!

Step 2:  WRITE!

Want to be a successful writer?  You have to write.

Write in your journal.  Continue writing the short story or novel you started yesterday.

Write 500 words if you can, or 1000.

Do they have to be good?

No – but you have to write them.

The writers I’ve mentioned here don’t write every day because they are successful: they are successful because they write every day.

Even More Lessons From Successful People

If you’d like to learn more about becoming a more productive writer, I want to invite you to take advantage of my newly released free 3-day email course Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People – featuring lessons from Warren Buffett, Steve Jobs and many more super productive people.  If you liked this article, you’ll love this course!

About the author

Sid Savara

Hi, I'm Sid Savara.  I've studied productivity and what makes people successful for the past two years.  If you enjoyed this article, you'll also like How To Have a Productive Day over on my blog, and my free email course productivity secrets of highly successful people - featuring Warren Buffet, Steve Jobs and more.