Million Word Challenge: January

When I decided to enter the million word challenge I had no idea whether I would succeed, or even whether victory would be a useful thing in the long-term. After one month, I still do not know whether I will succeed; but I do have a slightly better idea of how I might and how the attempt might be useful.

I am using the first few months of the year to identify my current writing speed and process rather than aiming for the mean average of 2740 words/day from day one. Based on my perception of how I write I set myself three goals:

  • Weekdays: Most weekdays last year I wrote what felt like a not insignificant number of words, but I was not certain how many; and some days I knew I did not write very many. So, I picked a goal of 2000 words/day to balance not falling too far behind the average.

  • Weekends: Unless I had a deadline or was really deeply into a project, I spent weekends last year relaxing or working on tasks that did not directly produce words (such as speculative research, brainstorming, and discussing writing in various communities). Because I was already pushing myself to produce a significant number of words each weekday, I chose not to set a target for weekends.

  • Carrying Forward: One Million Words is so large a target at the beginning that it is hard to judge the pace. To ensure that I neither attempted to “buy” easier days from my inner critic nor give it a stick to beat me with, I decided to make each day’s target distinct: any words over the target did not carry forward, but if I missed the target I did not need to make anything up.

This gave me a target of 42,500 words with weekends off.

Dave wearing many hats
Even when feeling overwhelmed, I try to stay cheerful
(photo of the author. source: unknown)

I actually wrote 58,429 words in January and wrote every day.

Most of the extra words were due to writing on the weekends, but I often wrote noticeably more than 2000 words on a weekday. So I have adjusted my goals up for February:

  • Weekdays: My aim was to stretch myself on days where I might not stop writing if I were still behind target. Fourteen days were above 2,200 and five days were above 2,300, so I have chosen 2,250 as a daily target.

  • Weekends: To cement the writing every day without losing the ability to take a break if needed, I am aiming for 500 words each day.

  • Carrying Forward: I am keeping this as is.

While the targets have produced more words written than I anticipated, they also influenced my choice of projects. I did work on a few poems during January, but the knowledge that the first draft of a poem involves much more considering the perfect word than writing out the shape of a novel meant I put off poems I might have started unless I had either already met my target or thought I had plenty of time later in the day to meet the target.

Whether the challenge will be helpful – or even realistic – over the year, I am still enthusiastic about writing rather than feeling drained like I did after NaNoWriMo 2012. So, a positive first month overall.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Million Word Challenge: January

  1. this is great, this is wonderful. I’d spend months trying to write 50000 words but you could make it in less than a month. Don’t forget, the journey of a million miles begin with a single step. Have a year full of thoughts and endless words, best wishes. 🙂

    Like

    1. Thank you.

      I feel the single step metaphor is spot on. I wrote that many words in a month in January, but January was not my first month writing; the 50,000 words came after several years of writing every week, the nearly every day.

      Like

Share Your Thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s