by Matt Mikalatos

People often ask me, “How do you find time to write?” quickly followed by “How much time do you set aside each day to write?” They don’t always like the answers, which are, “I don’t watch any sports” and “I don’t have a daily amount of time set aside for writing.”

Here’s why: when I set aside time to write, let’s say an hour, some part of my brain makes it a goal to completely waste that time. I’m writing along, doing fine, but five minutes in, I come across some fact I need, like how long it takes a penguin to incubate its egg.

Well, of course, I need to ask our good friend Google. Forty minutes later I wake up to discover I’m deep in the “kitten pictures” section of Instagram and I can’t remember how I got there. So in my hour of writing, I only truly write about 20 minutes. (You may well be more disciplined or smarter than I am, but the lazy part of my brain is wily and really loves kittens.)

Instead of having a time-based goal, I set word count goals. Suppose I tell my brain, “You’re going to write 1,000 words today. If it takes an hour, fine. If it takes five hours, fine.”Suddenly the lazy part of my brain is all set to do some work. I turn off the Internet on my laptop and focus on getting those words done. I’ll mark the page where I need to do some research then do that at a separate time when it won’t get in the way of my word goals.

Penguins, by the way, spend between 32 and 68 days sitting on their eggs. I’m told that’s when they get a large percentage of their writing done.


Matt Mikalatos will mentor and teach a seven-hour coaching class (critique), “Writing Inspiring Nonfiction,” at the upcoming 2020 Oregon Christian Writers Summer Conference August 17–20.

Matt Mikalatos has written many books, including Good News for a Change, My Imaginary Jesus, and Into the Fray: How Jesus’s Followers Turn the World Upside Down. He is driven by a desire to help people know they are fully known and loved by God and have intrinsic worth. Because of this, Matt loves to speak about intimacy with Christ, what it means to be a true disciple, world missions, evangelism, the gospel, and the Great Commission. He feels passionate about presenting the Scriptures in a compelling, accurate, and accessible way. A popular speaker for Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ), Matt is well-known for his hilarious stories illustrating the profound truths about our relationship with God. He loves writing, speaking, and people. His articles have been featured in many publications, including, TIME magazine, Relevant magazine, Nature, and Daily Science Fiction. Matt speaks to churches, college groups, and various organizations. Find out more about him at