Join us for #Write24in24

Write 24 in 24 illustration

Every year on the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast, as part of the Happier Trifecta, my co-host and sister Elizabeth and I do an annual challenge with listeners.

We’ve done #Walk20in20#Read21in21, #Rest22in22, and #GoOutside23in23. For some reason, framing a habit this way makes it feel more fun—and also easier to maintain.

For 2024, our challenge is…#Write24in24! Join us.

Find the approach to writing that works for you and your aims

If you write consistently, you’ll be astonished by how much you can accomplish in 2024. We often underestimate what we can do if we work consistently; as the famously prolific writer Anthony Trollope observed, “A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labours of a spasmodic Hercules.”

For the year of 2024, for the first time, we’re suggesting two options for following along, depending on what kind of writing you want to do.

Riffing off “’24,” you can write for 2-4 minutes each day—that’s enough to “count.” Or if you want to go the extra mile, you can write for 24 minutes each day.

Short or long? It’s up to you.

Whether in 2-4 or 24 daily minutes, you can accomplish great things by the end of the year.

Identify your aim

We’ll all have our own individual aim for this challenge. Do you want to #Write24in24 to boost your productivity, creativity, mindfulness, self-knowledge, or something else?

Productivity—whether you write short or long, your writing could help you to:

  • set priorities for the day with a “to-day” list
  • clear your mind of nagging thoughts by making a “to-do” list
  • make extremely manageable but consistent progress toward a big aim, such as creating a Facts of Life book
  • chip away at challenging emails
  • stay in regular touch with friends or family by sending texts, emails, or handwritten notes
  • serve as a type of accountability partner—great for Obligers!
  • keep a “ta-da” list of what you’ve accomplished that day, if you tend to be hard on yourself
  • kickstart your brain into work mode

whether you write short or long, your writing could help you to:

  • make progress on a novel, Ph.D., memoir, or other major writing project
  • maintain the habit of “Morning Pages“—Julia Cameron’s suggestion to do three pages of longhand, stream-of-consciousness writing, first thing in the morning
  • generate unexpected ideas and connections by writing frequently
  • create a keepsake for yourself or as a gift, by noting memories, reflections, insights, and events
  • capture fleeting ideas that might otherwise be forgotten
  • brainstorm with yourself
  • overcome writer’s block by writing consistently
  • ignore self-critical thoughts by pouring out ideas, no matter how outlandish or impractical
  • keep a One-Sentence Journal as a general diary or to track an important transition or project

—whether you write short or long, your writing could help you to:

  • boost your gratitude by writing down things you’re grateful for
  • appreciate the moment by noting the experiences of your five senses—check out the Five-Senses Journal
  • reduce stress and clear your mind by setting concerns down on paper and scheduling time to worry

whether you write short or long, your writing could help you to:

  • evoke and record your memories
  • gain insight into your own nature—consider the Know Yourself Better Journals, which pose thought-provoking questions to help guide reflection
  • craft the narrative of your own life; research shows “life storytelling” boost happiness by helping us to make sense of, and find meaning in, our experiences
  • reflect on your behavior, thinking, or problem-solving to gain insight into broad patterns

Tips to build a writing routine

If one approach doesn’t work, try something else—but do start with a plan. Research shows that the more concretely and specifically we plan, the more likely we are to stick to our resolutions.

Except for Rebels! Rebels, do it your way! Whatever feels right to you! If you want to keep it unplanned and spontaneous, that’s great.

What method of writing? Type into a document on your computer, add to an app in your phone, handwrite in a journal, use the page of a scratch pad? Beautiful tools make work a joy, so indulge in a modest splurge if that makes writing more pleasurable.

Choose your time of day wisely. Are you a morning person or a night person? Are you using this exercise to set your priorities for the coming day, to reflect on the day that just passed, or to do original work?

If you need accountability, get it. Obligers, you need accountability! And Upholders, Questioners, and sometimes even Rebels can benefit from accountability. Join a writers’ group, find an accountability partner, take a class, use the Happier app…there are many forms of accountability. A friend told her son, “You have your homework, and I have my homework, which is my daily writing. If I don’t do my homework, you don’t have to do your homework.” She felt obliged to write, because otherwise, her son wouldn’t do his homework.

Accountability structure can be quite unconventional. According to the historian Plutarch, in ancient Greece, the Athenian statesman Demosthenes built an underground study where he practiced his speaking and exercised his voice. To keep himself working, he shaved off one half of his head of hair, so that he couldn’t go out in public. 

Don’t break the chain. Many people benefit from sticking to a chain—which is one reason our annual challenge works so well. Use the Don’t Break the Chain Habit Tracker or the Happier app to record your streak.

Try forming a ritual. A ritual helps signal our brains that it’s time to enter a creative, focused state. You might light a candle, play a particular kind of music, walk around the block, or go to a specific place.

Consider collaboration. It can be exciting and fun to collaborate on a writing project. One reason that Elizabeth became a TV writer, after having written several novels, is that she likes to collaborate on writing. Consider whether you’d like to do  #Write24in24 with another person or group.

Upgrade your tools or your surroundings. Writing Life in Five Senses showed me that our sensory environment can make working easier or harder. Do you want to write in silence, with music playing, or amid the busy hum of a coffee shop? Is your desk chair comfortable, do you need a better pen, would you feel energized by putting a plant on your desk?

Put yourself in the company of writers. As the Strategy of Other People holds, we tend to pick up behaviors and attitudes from others. Hang out with people who also value writing, visit bookstores, listen to podcasts about writing (e.g., #AmWriting), read books about writing (e.g., King’s On Writing, Lamott’s Bird by Bird, Shapiro’s Still Writing, Zinsser’s On Writing Well).

Look back on times when you’ve succeeded in the past. When I was writing my book about habit change, Better Than Before, I noticed that people would often bemoan the fact that in the past, they’d kept a habit easily, but now found it hard to follow. This is a huge clue! If you wrote regularly in the past, reflect—and try to understand what aspect of that time made it easier. Was it the accountability of turning in homework? Was it excitement about the project? Was it the fun of collaboration? The past holds clues for the present.

Use the Muse Machine if you get stuck. I recently created the Muse Machine, a deck of 150 prompts to help spark creative thinking. I must say—I love it! Or if you have another way of boosting your creativity, use it.

Use the Strategy of Convenience. Make it very easy to write. Keep your materials handy.

Tap into your Tendency. Are you an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel? Use that knowledge to help you keep the habit of daily writing.

Find more tips for building a writing routine here.

Ask Us Anything: Elizabeth and I Answer Questions from the Podcast

Ideas for Working on a Major Creative Project in 2-4 Daily Minutes

If you’re writing for 2-4 daily minutes, you may be doing a to-list, handwriting notes, tackling emails, or the like. Which is great!

But you could also make progress on a major creative project, just 2-4 minutes each day. Remember, your work will add up to something significant by December. So consider whether you’d like to build toward some finished final project.

Interesting short-form inspirations that I’ve loved:

People Who Led to My Plays—playwright Adrienne Kennedy creates a riveting memoir by noting all the people who inspired her work, describing each person or encounter in just a few sentences

I Remember—in just a sentence or two, Joe Brainard writes down the specific memories that rise the surface of his mind, and with these short reflections, creates an extraordinary record

The Glen Rock Book of the DeadMarion Winik writes one-page portraits of the dead people she has known; enthralling

Listography: Your Life in Lists—a journal designed to help you write your autobiography through list-making

Love, Loss, and What I WoreIlene Beckerman tells the story of her life, outfit by outfit—this exercise could work with any element that pervades your life, such as foods you ate, music you listened to, books you read, art you admired. (Her memoir is illustrated, which is an interesting additional element.)

Use tools to help you #Write24in24

I’ve created many resources that you might find helpful as you #Write24in24.

Whether you write short or long, whether you join on January 1 or halfway through the year, whether you want to tackle your drudge work or spark your brilliance, #Write24in24 can work for you.

Join us!



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