365 Day First Book Writing Challenge: How to Write a Book in a Year

How to write a book in one year
You have decided you want to write a book in the next year. That’s great, but now you need to come up with a plan to make that happen that’s simple enough to help you reach the goal, yet allows you to write enough to complete a book within a year. One easy and effective way to accomplish the book-in-a-year goal is to take the 365-day book writing challenge.

The concept of this challenge is simple enough that any writer, no matter what their level, should be able to follow it to reach their goal. Most people who decide they want to write a book fail because they try to do too much in too little amount of time. This challenge leverages the fact there are 365 days in a year and that you want to build a daily writing habit.

The book writing challenge works in the following way. Once you decide to begin, each day you need to write between one and 365 words. You want to shoot for writing the highest number of words you can to cross the highest number off the chart, but as long as you write any number of words which corresponds with a number that’s still available on the chart, you’re golden. At the end of the day, you place an “x” on the chart over the number of words you wrote that day. Each day you do this for the entire year and at the end, you will have written 66,795 words. Even more importantly, you’ll have established a daily writing habit which you can then use to write your next book in even less time.

365 Day Book Writing Challenge (click on image to print PDF)

Write a book in a year
To be successful in this challenge, there are a few important steps you should take. First, you should print out the challenge sheet. Once done, you should put it somewhere where you’ll see it daily. Tape it to the top of your laptop computer or hang it on the bulletin board above your writing desk. The chart needs to be visible so you are reminded each day you need to write, even if it’s only a little bit. This visual reminder will help you reach your daily goal of writing and the ultimate goal of finishing your book.

The second rule is you aren’t allowed to go to bed until you have crossed off one of the numbers on the sheet. There really is no excuse not to cross off one of the numbers. The truth is that if you are unable to cross off a number each day of the year with all of the smaller word counts available, you’re not serious about writing the book. In a way, it’s a test to determine if you are willing to take the actions necessary to write the book, or if you just say you want to, but it’s only words. That may sound a bit harsh, but if you can’t write a few words each day no matter what happens in life, writing the book isn’t a priority in your life. The only thing that can keep you from completing this challenge is yourself.

Another key about this challenge which increases your likelihood of success is that it takes into account the reality of life. There are going to be busy days and days when the unexpected happens and you won’t be able to write as much as you hoped. You should always shoot for the highest word count number still available on the sheet, but when a day comes when that isn’t possible, crossing off a smaller number is perfectly acceptable.

While having a book written at the end of the year is a huge deal, the biggest benefit of this challenge is something you’ll gain that’s far more important. This challenge requires you to write every day. Even the days when you’re only able to write a word or two, you must sit down and write something. That daily writing will turn into a daily routine by the end of the year. Once you have established that habit, you have created a foundation which will allow you to write far more the following year.

If you have had the goal to write a book in the past but have failed in getting it done, I encourage you to try the 365-day book writing challenge. It has a lot of things going for it that other challenges don’t, which increases the likelihood you’ll actually complete it and reach your goal. Best of all, at the end of the year, you’ll have a book written and you’ll have the skill-set in place to write as many more as you want to in the future.

41 comments

  1. Oh, I really like this idea! I think it’s something that may help me actually finish my novel. Thanks for the idea and I hope I have a book for you at the end of the year!!

      1. I agree. So instead what you need to do is cross off seven numbers a week. Decide how many days you want to write a week, say five, then two days you need to split your word count between two numbers.
        Sample week:
        day1 – 400 words written (strong start, 365 and 35 crossed off),
        day2 – 100 (did what I could, 100 crossed off),
        day3 – 36 (busy day, 36 crossed off),
        day4 – 300 (well done, 300 crossed off),
        day5 – 340 (big finish, 301 and 39 crossed off).
        Congratulate yourself on one week of writing. 🙂

        1. I like the way you have set this up. It’s impossible for me to write every day because of my schedule, but the days that I do write I have a good amount of time to write. I can cross off several numbers each time I am able to sit down and write, I should be able to complete this even before the year is up. Thanks for the creative idea.

        2. I did something similar. If I wrote more than 365 words during the day, I would cross off more than one box. There was one day when I wrote over 2000 words and I was able to cross off 10 boxes that day. My only goal was that I had to cross off at least one box each day and I ended up finishing all the boxes in less than six months. It’s another great way to attack this challenge if you want to try it at a speed faster than a year.

    1. This is a great challenge for upcoming writers or anyone who is looking to write their first book. Everything is set out perfectly and it is easy to follow all you need is to motivate yourself to complete it. I’ve been doing ti for about 6 months now and it has helped me write a lot more than I would have ever done so without it. I think it’s the requirement to write every day even if it’s only one word. That means even if you can’t write much, you’re always thinking about writing.

  2. This is a lot like the money challenges that are going around. I think it’s a great alternative for writers. I’m going to give it a go and see how I do. It seems like a good way to make sure I spend a little time each day writing!

    1. Yes, it’s very similar to that, but replaces saving money with writing words on a daily basis. Both are good ways to form ongoing habits so that saving money (or writing in this case) becomes something you do automatically each day.

  3. Oh, I like this! I think it’s a great way to introduce new writers into the consistency needed to truly be a writer. I will be passing this along to others I know.

  4. I want to write a book. Can I write a book in a year using this method? I have a great idea for a book and I’m sure it will e a best seller. How can I get someone to pay me to write this book since it will be such a success? I can’t wait to get started!!

    1. I think you’re getting a little ahead of yourself. Nobody knows whether or not their book is going to be a bestseller or make a lot of money before it’s actually written. In fact, if you are going around saying that your book will be a bestseller before you have the ever written a book, you likely don’t know what you’ll need to do to actually write a bestseller.

      It takes a lot of work in energy beyond writing the book. before you go around telling everybody that you’re going to write a bestseller, you might want to actually write the book. Then people can read it and judge it on its own merits.

      1. A story formula that is magic. Story must include: deity, hierarchy, sex, mystery. Learned this in college and it works like a charm! My teacher had a short he wrote: “Oh my God” said the princess, “I’m pregnant. I wonder who did it?” And then go from there. Working on a fanfic for the marvel ‘verse with frostiron as the main pair. It has everything at we are at 44,000 and counting!

  5. This seems like a great idea. Just curious: how did you arrive at the number in the article: 66,795? 365 x 365 gives us 133,225

    1. You don’t have to write 365 words each day. You can write 1 word or 365 — whatever number you have on the chart that you haven’t yet crossed off. That’s where the 66.795 words come from (1+2+3+4+5…+365)

  6. This is a gimmick. The only way to write a novel is to sit down and write it. If you want to be a novelist, then you have to take the job seriously and write each day like it’s your job. Stop dreaming about writing and actually write. I guess it’s ok to use this gimmick if it helps, but that’s all it is. You have to do the writing.

    1. All writing is a gimmick in some way or another. The important thing is to figure out a way to motivate yourself to do the writing. If a system like this works, why not use it? Just because the system may not work for you doesn’t mean that it would work for other people.

  7. I’m planning on writing my first novel this year. I can’t wait to get started. I think this is an excellent way to go about it. I can writ a little each day and at the end of 1 year I will have a novel. If I had written it stead of this comment, I would already be way ahead of schedule!!! lol.

    1. I think the idea is just to remember even though it’ll take you 1 year to finish a novel, using this method that you only think about 1 box per day… even if 365 are starting back at you, you really only need to think about 1 amount per day, even if you only do the first 31 boxes (the lowest 31 that is), that’s only 496 words in 31 days, it’s very do able, b/c in the first month your doing less than 500 words, and since it takes the average person 21 days to create a new habit, after a month of doing this, it’ll just become a habit.

  8. A little over a month ago, I realised I hadn’t written regularly since the beginning of 2013 and it kind of devastated me. I love writing, but life just swept me up and I forgot to take the time to actually sit down and write. It led to a lot of frustration since I kept waiting for inspiration to strike, but when it did I didn’t have time to follow it.
    I found this challenge and decided to give it a try. I have written everyday but one for the past 31 days (so 30 days of writing in total). One day I only wrote 34 (I got caught up editing an old book of mine and didn’t count the editing as part of the challenge) while I’ve been over 1000 words six of the days. I did a count today and in the 30 days of writing I have written 16.718 words. I’m not gonna lie, I am sitting here, grinning like an idiot and ready to burst with pride.
    Obviously you still have to do the work, but this has been a great tool for me to use and I am really happy I stumbled over it.

    This is how my challenge looks today:
    http://i.imgur.com/slaO3yK.png

    1. Always love to hear stories like this — it’s exactly why I put together articles like this. I’m so happy that I could help in some way, no matter how little, in getting you back to writing more regularly again. And thank you for sharing your story. I’m sure it will inspire someone else to give it a try and pass the inspiration onto someone who may not have tried just reading my article. I wish you the best of luck in continuing your writing success over the next 11 months!

    2. It’s been a few months since you commented here about this method. I’m wondering if you have an update on how it’s been going with this method. I like the idea od it, but I’d like to get confirmation it actually works for some people before I try it. I’d love to hear what you think is good and not so good from your experience trying it.

  9. It’s my dream to write a book. This chart makes it seem so easy to do. Is it really this easy? Is there some kind of hidden catch that isn’t explained here? I never thought I could make my dream of writing a book come true, but this makes me think I could actually do it. But I’m afraid of failing so I want to know this will work.

    1. I wish you the best of luck in making your dream of writing a book true. If this chart helps you to make that dream possible, then it was worth creating. The key is finding the tricks that help you to write each and every day so that you can actually complete when you started. I hope that if this technique works for you, you will share when you have your book complete.

  10. Incredible advice. I’m already about 20,000 words into this one, but on my 2nd book I will have to implement this system.

  11. I decided to try this. I’ve always wanted to write a book, and this seems like it could be a way to accomplish that. I’m a little scared as I don’t know if I have the fortitude to finish, but I want to at least try. I think we should all try to achieve out dreams even if we’re not sure we actually can. I hope to come back next year at this time and say that I have a book written!

  12. There is more to writing a book than writing 67,000 words. That’s just the beginning. Then you have to edit all you have written, sometimes multiple times. Where is the time for editing included in this plan? You won’t have a novel at the end of a year. You’ll have a lot of words to be edited. There’s a big difference!

    1. I think you’re looking at this with a microscope when you should be looking at it as a general plan. The hardest part for most people who want to write a book is actually starting. Once they started, the hardest part is consistently writing. That’s all this system is claiming to do — to help writers begin and to write consistently. You are technically correct that the book will not be finished and ready to take to the publisher in one year, but anyone who uses this method will be a lot farther along than if they just thought about writing a book. I think that’s the main point of this article.

  13. What an amazing idea. It’s definitely worth trying at least once. This is a way to make writing even more fun because it challenges you. I think by using this formula I’ll be able to write a book in a year.

  14. I have been in a battle for many years. An inner struggle between my flesh and spirit. Tonight the thought of waging war on paper for a full year gave me hope that victory may indeed be found after 365 days. So I determined that I would devote one year to this fight. THEN, I began looking on the web to find others who may have attempted something similar. I found your site immediately. Perhaps I will employ this strategy as a weapon in my pursuit of victory. Thank you.

  15. If you do this challenge, you will have AT LEAST 66.795 words. I started this and most days I have many more words than the number I cross off the paper. I think this challenge is best for getting me to write every day and the number of words is a bonus. It’s helped me a lot!

  16. Everyone should write at least one book in their lifetime. It doesn’t need to be published, but it should be written for the experience. It will make you appreciate all the books you read more.

  17. This seems way too easy. There has to be a catch of some type. What is it? If it were really this easy to write a book, everyone would do it.

  18. I’m going to try to do this in 2017. Writing a book is one of my New Year’s goals and this seems like a good way of going about it. I hope it works and I can report back at this time next year that I’ve written my first book!

  19. Everyone should write a book during their lifetime. It doesn’t need to get published, but it should be written. There are so many benefits that come with doing it. I encourage everyone to give it a try.

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