200 Stinkin’ Words


How do you write a book?

200 stinkin’ words a day.”

As I heard this on a recent podcast, I received an internal kick-in-the-butt. Having proclaimed myself as a “writer” I was reminded of my lifelong and seemingly chronic lack of discipline and follow-through around writing. If there was an Olympic competition for unfinished blog posts, articles, manuals and books, I would be highly qualified for multiple gold medals.

This advice of 200 words a day may seem far too simple, but there are two very savvy psychological twists intertwined in it. First, from strictly a behavioral model, when you get in a habit of doing something daily it is far more likely to become an automatic habit than if you just do it intermittently. Second, the feeling of accomplishing a task and fulfilling a goal provides positive reinforcement, which motivates us to repeat it.

So here I sit on January 22, 2018, recommitting to writing regularly. But this time, I am only committing to write 200 stinkin’ words. And I am purposely emphasizing stinkin’ because it doesn’t even have to be “good” writing. It can actually be really bad, because the goal is much more about the 200 words than it is about the quality.

Just so you know, I hit 200 words in that last sentence, so I am free to stop now as I have fulfilled my goal. But I’m having a problem: I don’t want to stop writing!

Once I get going with writing, like many other things in life, I usually follow through and go even further than what I had committed to.

The challenge is the getting started on a regular basis. This requires discipline, which is a word and concept I’ve long rebelled against. I’m not sure why I began to resist discipline so much. Being somewhat of an irresponsible kid, and young adult, maybe I’m just reluctant to making a change. Maybe I’m afraid I won’t do it and will fail, whereas making no commitment to discipline allows me to not have (another) failure.

Wow, the fear of failing, so loud, clear and obvious. And now I’m sharing it with you. The fear of failing is one of the more common issues that people come to me with for help. I guess it’s a good thing I can relate to them so much!

So I am committing to write 200 stinkin’ words a day and I’m looking at this commitment as an experiment. I want to see what the outcome might be. I’m both the scientist and the subject.

And you get to follow my progress (and therefore, hold me accountable). That doesn’t mean that I’ll be posting something every day, but it does mean I’ll be chiseling away at my next masterpiece, learning through all my many wonderful mistakes how to continue down the path of continual quality improvement (CQI).

The Japanese have a word they use, kaizen, to describe CQI. Kai is roughly translated as “change” and zen roughly means “good.” “Improvement” is the end result.

No matter how small, the goal is improvement.

And of course this post would be of no value if I didn’t give you your own personal call to action. So, what is your “200 stinkin’ words a day” challenge? How will you challenge yourself to step-up and make a commitment (even if the results aren’t too “pretty”)?

Let me know and I’ll include your stories and challenges going forward. I’ll be looking forward to hearing about your 200 stinkin’ words a day stories. In the meantime, keep shuffling your feet forward. No matter how small the steps, you’ll eventually get to where you’re going.


P.S. I ended up writing 621 words. Oops!


Marry YourSelf First today!