Quality writing doesn’t happen by magic or mere desire. Improving any discipline takes a large quantity of effort…
For me, this meant 1,000 words a day. Here’s how I got there:
In 2016, out of curiosity and as a bit of personal challenge, I counted the words I wrote all year-long. “You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” the motivational gurus say. I thought I’d see where I was at before trying to improve. I built a spreadsheet tracker on my iPad and watched the numbers build up over the course of the year. I surpassed 215K, or about 600 words per day on average.
In 2017, I decided I would set a particular goal–something that pushed me past what I had done the year before, but something I could actually manage.
I belonged to a group on Facebook where writers commit to writing 500 words a day, and I’ve seen several sites or groups set their quota around that number. ( 4thewords – a writing game website where I do a lot of my drafts, sets 444 as the daily goal). Jeff Goins is a writer who has built a platform out of encouraging others to write their own 500 words a day. I figured I’d take that and double it because I’m so hardcore! (kidding!)
I declared my goal: 1000 words a day on average. I knew there would be days where I didn’t write a single word, so I added that caveat at the end.
I built a new spreadsheet for 2017 and adjusted the formulas to fit each week and month. I had also started using a Bullet Journal recently, and got sucked into the Pinterest-perfect trackers and spreads I saw online. I decided to make a daily pixelated word count page in my journal, with colors representing how much I did or didn’t write.
Over the course of 2017, I adjusted my expectations here and there… some months had far too many 0 entries or brown squares on my tracker, and I started thinking, “Maybe I’ll hit 300K total… maybe I’ll hit 250K… maybe I can just do better than last year.”
November is National Novel Writing Month, where participants try to write a novel of 50,000 words or more between November 1st and 30th. I knew I would score some significant word count during that month, but it wouldn’t be enough.
Four months out from the new year, I realized that if I wrote at NaNoWriMo pace for the rest of the year (50,000 words in a month), I could meet my goal. That realization was followed by several days of less than 1000 words.
NaNo actually produced some great results for me, coupled with a family journaling project, so I cranked out over 80,000 words in that single month. December slowed down a bit, but I still managed to do more than 1K a day average, and on the 31st, I crossed my finish line with a year-long total of 365,468 words.
Now I’m not claiming those words are quality, but I firmly believe that the key to producing some quality is a quantity of effort. The work creates opportunities for quality to bloom.
It’s like saying “I will spend quality time with my kids.” That doesn’t happen by saying, “Okay bud, we got 10 minutes of real quality time. Go.” It happens by spending frequent time together, which makes room for those few, magical moments to blossom into memories that last.
It’s the same with writing, or so I tell myself. With that in mind, I saw Jeff Goins post about starting the year off with a 500-a-day challenge. Since his influence sparked my original goal, I’ll try his method and commit to writing 500 words every day for at least all of January. They may not all be great words, but that’s not the point.
Happy new year to all of you following or glancing at this in your Facebook / WordPress feed. I hope your 2017 was filled with accomplishments and your 2018 looks promising. What goals are you setting for this year?