Million Words Challenge – March

The third month of the Million Words Challenge is over. And my writing pace was higher again. So, it is going well. However, I am still below the average needed to hit one million words (mostly due to weekends), so I am facing a more difficult choice going into the second quarter: where to make up the words.

My overall target for March was 57,500 words. I wrote 81,260 words so was quite pleased. I was even more pleased when I calculated it was a mean average of 2,621 words per day. So not that far off 2,740 words per day needed to not fall further behind. So definitely successful by the standards of my plan to build up my daily progress.

However, to achieve the overall target I will need to do more than stabilise. I will need to catch up the more than 36,000 words I am behind. On a large-scale there are three ways to achieve this:

  • Keep increasing daily targets by steadily smaller amounts so I catch up over the course of the year.

  • Keep increasing steadily until my mean monthly average is equal to the mean average needed to hit by the end of the year then plateau.

  • Push harder so I not only catch up before the end of the year but end up ahead.

Each of these options balances ease of achieving a daily target against protection against unforeseen difficulties in the future. So, the choice could be seen as one of likely future performance.

The short-term answer to this lies in my daily performance for the month:

  • Weekdays: 14 days were over 2,750 words, of which 11 days were over 3,000 words and three days were over 4,000 words.

  • Weekends: five days were over 750 words, of which four days were over 1,000 words and two were over 2,000 words. However, one day I failed to meet the target.

Three clear patterns emerge:

  • When I am above target I am usually above target by a large amount (>20%).

  • The likelihood I will significantly exceed my target is much greater on weekdays than weekends.

  • When I am above target it is unlikely to be more than 60%.

Taken together these patterns seem to indicate days are either spent striving for the target, or pouring out words; which matches my knee-jerk assessment of the month.

However, I only missed my target once – and still wrote that day – so the targets are below what I can regularly achieve. There is therefore room to increase the daily targets.

Ignoring the magnitude of success, there is a noticeable difference between weekdays and weekends. Therefore, at least in the short-term, any significant increases in target would be more effective on weekdays.

However, I do not often significantly reduce my overall deficit. So, there does not seem to be a good basis for deliberate attempts to write large amounts in a single day.

So, I am increasing my weekday target to 2,750 words and my weekend target to 600 words. As I am still seeking the point at which I fail on a noticeable number of days, I am keeping the pressure even by not permitting carrying over.


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