If you find yourself in a position where you aren’t writing as much as you would like to, a great way to push yourself to do more is to do a 1000-words-a-day challenge. The actual number of words you choose to try to write daily doesn’t have to be 1000. It can be any number that fits your writing goal, and it can be higher or lower depending on your circumstances. 1000 words a day is a good starting numner if you aren’t sure how much you have been writing.
If you have taken one of these challenges in the past, you may not have managed to complete it. What often happens is a writer sets a daily goal, but something happens one day which prevents them from achieving the number of words they set. They then try to make up for the words they failed to write the previous day in addition to their normal daily goal. The result is many get behind to the point where they don’t feel they can make up for the past days and quit. This is a complete shame because, in many cases, they were still writing more than they were before the challenge, just not their predetermined goal.
There is a simple solution to this which will greatly increase your chances of completing the challenge without quitting in the middle. In addition to your daily goal, you want to set an absolute minimum number of words you will write each day. A good number for this is 10% of you daily word goal. For example, if you want to write 1000 words a day, the absolute minimum you will write in a day would be 100 words. While this may seem like a silly little thing, it can make a huge difference when it comes to the way you process the challenge.
The biggest change is that it redefines failure. Instead of failing by not writing 1000 words, you only fail if you don’t write 100 words. If you can’t write 100 words one day during the challenge, then one of two issues is going on. You either aren’t truly committed to writing 1000 words a day, or 1000 words a day is too ambitious a goal for you.
The 100-word minimum is a failsafe. Again, if you are barely making 100 words each day, then your original goal of 1000 was unrealistic. This minimum should only come into play when something unexpected happens to prevent you from writing, not because of writer’s block. What it allows you to do is to be disappointed you didn’t reach 1000 words one day without thinking you failed the overall challenge. It also means you don’t have to make up the words the next day. It keeps the challenge going instead of giving you an excuse to quit.
So why have a daily minimum number of words at all? Having that daily minimum number means that no matter how hectic a day may get, you have made writing a big enough priority that somehow, someway, you’ll find 10 minutes to sit down to write those 100 words. It also prevents you from beginning to form the bad habit of having days where you don’t write at all, and reinforce the habit that no matter what, you will write at least a little bit each and every day. This will help to reinforce the fact that writing is a priority in your life, and something you are determined to do on a daily basis.
Below are the steps you need to take to set up your challenge:
Step one: Determine the goal of how many words you want to write each day.
Step two: Determine the minimum number of words you must write each day (10% of your goal amount is a good number).
Step three: Determine the length of the challenge. It could be a month, 100 days, six months or a year — whatever best fits your circumstances. If you are trying this for the first time, a month is a good place to begin.
Step four: Determine if there are any off days. Some people may not have any at all while some may exclude weekends or one particular day each week. Again, make the challenge fit best to your particular circumstances.
Step five: Let others know about the challenge to keep yourself honest. When you let others know you are attempting a challenge, even if it’s only your family, you usually make a more concerted commitment, and hold yourself more accountable, than if you don’t tell anyone else. it’s harder to quit when you’ve stated to others what you’re going to do.
Step six: Keep track of your daily word count throughout the challenge, and record it somewhere. If you’re truly committed to reaching your daily word count goal, you’ll find the challenge will greatly increase the amount you’re able to write on a daily basis, and over the length of the entire challenge.
(Photo courtesy of Andres Nieto Porras)