This month I’ve decided to set myself a challenge: to write 1,000 words every weekday for the entire month. Writing is at the heart of almost everything I do in my business, and it's also a creative outlet that I've been missing lately. So I'm using this challenge to write a combination of content for this blog & my newsletter, and whatever else I feel like at the time.
UPDATED FOR MARCH 2019
Why 1,000 Words A Day?
I initially had the idea to write 1,000 words a day after reading this post from Nathan Barry, who did it for over 600 days. I enjoyed reading his experience of getting into a firm habit of just creating (Nathan's mantra is “create every day”). It’s about learning not just to write when you “feel like it” or are “inspired”, but writing when you choose to and making it part of your routine.
I know that 1,000 words a day sounds a lot, but in my freelance writing past I used to write at least 1,000 words a day easily. (In fact, thanks to far-too-low rates, I had to write a lot more than that and I got burnt out.) So I feel that 1,000 words a day is very doable for someone who is already used to writing, but the goal is also big enough to stretch me and force me to commit to something.
In a month of writing on weekdays, I’ll end up with over 20,000 words written. That could be enough for an eBook, lots of blog posts, some powerful email sequences, etc. But the challenge would be too restrictive if were all about perfect, polished, final drafts. It's also about stream-of-consciousness ideas, playing with creativity, sowing seeds for future blog posts, and writing for writing's sake. Some of what I write will be useable in my business, some won't, and that's fine.
More than anything, I love setting myself this goal to get me back into the habit of just writing. Whenever I make writing a priority, it just feels… right. Because writing is easy, but it can also feel so very hard. And no matter what else I achieve in a day, if I've written something I know I've done something that matters to me.
My Daily Writing Practice
I know that I can write 1,000 very quickly if I know my subject matter and if I set the intention to really focus (which this app helps me to do). If you don’t feel so confident you could always reduce the goal to 500 words a day, which would still give you lots of content to work with at the end of the month, and be the foundation of a great writing habit (and you’ll probably get more efficient at writing by the end of it, too)
Something that really helped me when I first completed this challenge was to spend a day brainstorming blog post ideas. I also always keep a note on my phone for whenever ideas come to me – I try to jot them down as quickly as possible, along with any bullet points for what I might cover. At this point I have a lot of ideas there to run with already.
I aim to complete my words in the morning because I don't want the challenge to turn into a stress that I have to squeeze into the end of my workday just to get done. I won't beat myself up if I am late, though, especially now that I have a child to care for alongside my regular work. Some days don't go to plan, and that's OK. And if I do miss days I’ll catch the time up by doing a bit extra the day before or the day after so the monthly total is effectively the same.
My plan is to write rough drafts, meaning that I won’t constantly be editing and correcting myself. I’ll also write bits and pieces of blog posts and emails, rather than worrying about necessarily “completing” one piece before moving onto the next. That’s not to say I won’t finish anything – I do aim to get lots of useable content out of this challenge – it just means I’m making things as enjoyable, flexible and achievable as possible.
In short, I’ll let the words flow, and I’ll worry about improving them if and when it comes time to publish.
The Power of Personal & Business Challenges
I am a huge fan of setting myself challenges in my business and personal life. The key is to keep things simple. Writing 1,000 words a day is a stretch, but it's simple. It's easy to measure, I know roughly how long it'll take me each day, the rules are basic – I do it every week day – and there are no additional requirements (like the writing being edited and useable!) It also feels good, which I think is important if I'm going to stick to anything for a month.
In the past I've used challenges to kickstart new productivity “streaks”. When you do something every day, it turns into a streak that you don't want to break. This is something that worked for me with meditation (until I had a baby!) I used a simple, yet brilliant, app called Insight. One of the key features (that you can turn off if you like) is the reward system. It’s simple: get a gold star for each 10 consecutive days of meditation, or 50 non-consecutive days. The stars keep adding up the longer you go. And it works.
Nowadays, I'm not so rigid with my productivity, which is why I've limited my challenge to a month, and why I rest on weekends. But I know from experience that a month of commitment is enough to make things happen.
If you'd like to join me, please feel free! It doesn't have to be about writing. Here are a few other ideas of daily tasks: take a photograph, make your bed, message or email someone new, spend 5 minutes journalling, end your work day earlier, read in your lunch break, write your goals down, draw, play music, walk, practice affirmations, keep a gratitude journal etc.Feeling stuck? Click here for my free journalling prompts
I’ll update again at the end of the month to let you know how I got on, what I wrote, and I how I feel about this kind of challenge. Wish me luck! Make sure you subscribe to my newsletter for challenge updates & tips.