Dan Arel wrote the books Parenting without God and The Secular Activist. He’s penned a number of articles for The Huffington Post, Salon, The New Arab as well as other publications. He sat down to talk about the best advice he ever received on my YouTube show Best Advice Ever.
Dan offered some insight on what makes him a great writer. Here is an excerpt from our conversation.
Andy: Tell me about the best advice you ever got
Dan: Honestly, the best advice I ever got was from an author who I won’t name because he turned out to be a jerk, but he gave me great advice. He said to write 1000 words a day. It doesn’t matter what I write. It doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad. It’s an exercise to unlock your brain.
For example, I was reading about the Russian revolution, so I decided to write 1,000 words a day on it. I wasn’t writing a book about the Russian revolution. There wasn’t any fact checking. I wouldn’t go get sources. I would just write what I thought about the material or what I could remember.
When I did this exercise I’d get into a flow state. Something would spark in me. Suddenly I’d be inspired to write about something that had nothing to do with the Russian Revolution.
I’ve written 1,000 words about my favorite type of egg salad and got something meaningful out of it.
I was always amazed at writers who could write all these books and blog posts. This 1,000 word a day system works for me to produce more content. Every single piece I write I save. They may be ramblings or they may not be. I’ll probably have a book out in a year or two based on some of those writings. And those ramblings are the backbone of the book. Sure, I researched and rewrote all of them, but without writing 1,000 words a day, I wouldn’t have all of this material to work with.
Andy: Do you feel like you’ve become a better writer in terms of grammar or in terms of composition due to this method?
Dan: I think so. I was never good at grammar. I’m not a trained writer. I don’t have an English degree. Basic grammar never really made sense to me in school. I felt like I didn’t need it. But the more I wrote the better I got. There were less mistakes. Rereading the material is instructive. I started thinking…