J.J. Turner, Ph.D.

Author of How to Drop Your Excuses and Start Writing Today (

As a writer, editor, publisher, and teacher of writing I am continually asked “How do you start writing?” Recently at a university book display a publisher “stuck a camera” in my face and asked me to share my advice on how to become a writer. When I quickly answered, “By writing one word at a time”, those gathered around the camera person, along with the camera person, either smiled or had a strange look on their faces. The camera person tried to encourage me to say more but I continued to say, “All writing begins with one word. Period!”

     Here’s a rocket science observation. You can’t write the second or third word until you have written the first word. How amazing is this revelation! Try it and you’ll see I am right.

     Hundreds of books, writer seminars and retreats, along with writing teachers have created a mystic or aura around what it takes to be a writer. Some of the advice and suggestions are on target and some is designed to promote and sell. You are discouraged when you hear about all the rules of grammar, syntax, spelling, word choices, etc. If you are interested in writing poetry you are given a list of dozens of acceptable poetry styles you need to master. No, I’m not opposed in pursuing academic knowledge about writing. My interest is in helping people start where it all starts after they’ve completed all the writing courses—writing one word.


Here are 12 simple and basic keys I have discovered which help develop the writing habit. Don’t let the simplistic nature of these keys fool you. Give them thought, questions, and application. Today, write on!

  1. Keep in mind you are developing a new HABIT. It has been proven that it takes on an average 66 days to develop a habit that sticks with you.
  2. Keep in mind you are developing ONE habit at a time; not a multiplicity of habits.
  3. Have a deep and dynamic reason for WHY you will develop the writing habit.
  4. Remember the old K-I-S-S principle: Keep-It-Simple-Sir. Inch by inch it’s a cinch and yard by yard it’s too hard. Choose a familiar and simple subject at first, e.g. an event in your life—past or present.
  5. Never, no never, miss two days in succession in writing something. If you miss one day your chances of continuing drop 55%, if you miss two days in a row it drops to 90%. Keep on keeping on.
  6. Set the time each day you will write. The morning for most persons has been proven to be the best time. The mind is fresh, alert, and productive. Keep the time you choose.
  7. Write out your plan for starting to write. Yes, I said write your plan! This will be your master goal setting agenda, which you’ll change from time to time. Do it NOW!
  8. Keep your practice simple and consistent. You’ll be motived to start launching out but wait until you’ve gotten the writing habit ingrained in your nervous system, etc.
  9. Ask someone to hold you accountable for practicing your writing habit routine. This will serve as a major motivation. Don’t try to make excuses or get out of your commitment to write habit.
  10. Create a reward system for yourself. It may be a certain dessert you enjoy, a book, etc. Give it only after you have achieved a specific goal.
  11. Never surrender your goal to develop the writing habit. NEVER!
  12. START writing right now: Your name:________________ address:________________________

You have already started writing. DON’T STOP.