This article is based on a post by Reddit-user moebius23 in /r/Writing, who describes what they learned after committing to writing 1000 words per day for a year. Here is the link to the original post by moebius23.
Malcolm Gladwell says you can master a craft if you practice it for at least 10,000 hours. For writers, it is often difficult to quantify our output in terms of duration. So what would happen if we chose a more measurable target? If we committed to writing 1000 words per day for one whole year?
Every writer knows the importance of writing everyday. Writing is like a muscle; if you don’t exercise it, it’ll get weak. Writing takes practice. You don’t wake up being great at it. Like everything else in life, being good at something means doing it. Often.
Today, you can commit to becoming an honest-to-goodness writer. The following advice will help get you started:
Before You Begin
- Pick a doable daily word count. There’s no sense in setting lofty goals of 3000 words per day if you cannot reasonably achieve them. Burnout happens. It’s better to develop a long-term daily writing habit, so start small. If 1000 words is too much for you, do 500. Or 250. Just pick a word count and stick to it.
- Don’t skip a day. Just don’t do it. It sounds strict, but you won’t believe how quickly one day can turn to three days, then a week, then three weeks. Pretty soon, you’ll have to start from scratch and develop a writing habit all over again. It’s a slippery slope my friend. Don’t skip a day.
- You have time to write. Trust me, you do. Even the busiest of us can (and must) find time to write everyday. That internal voice that whispers, “I don’t have enough time today,” is the devil on your shoulder. Your most bullshit excuse. The one that tells you writing isn’t your priority right now. But there is always time to write, whether it’s 15 minutes before work or a half-hour before bed. You don’t even have to put on pants. Just open your laptop and start typing.
- Your first draft will suck. Seriously. It’ll be the worst thing ever. You’ll cringe when you think about what you’ve written. But – and this is important – don’t look back. Resist the temptation to reread what you wrote the day before. It’ll only depress you. Because it sucks. A lot. But let this liberate you. Let the fact that you’re writing complete drivel propel you to bang out that first draft. Keep telling yourself that no one will ever have to see it. It can be the most terrible story that anyone has ever written and no one will ever know. Got it? Now, sit down and write whatever the hell you want.
- Writer’s block does not exist. It’s a myth that writers tell themselves (and other people) to assuage their own guilt about their sucky first draft (see above). Yes, there are times when you won’t know where to lead a character. Times you seem to be out of ideas for cool action scenes. Times when you just can’t find the right word to describe how your protagonist is feeling. Keep writing. Turn your laptop’s backlight to the lowest setting and let your fingers fly across the keyboard. Go crazy. Be free! You might end up scrapping the random scene where your character goes to Chuck E’ Cheese. But at least you’ll have written something.
- Get some distance. After you’ve finished your (shitty) first draft, it’s time to take a step back. Let your story breath for few weeks. Maybe months. Then, when you go back to read it again, you’ll see it with fresh eyes. You’ll have the objectivity to tell what works and what doesn’t. You’ll know which parts are boring and which ones are compelling. And, if you hate the entire thing, don’t fret. Writing is all about rewriting. The editing stage is where the story really comes alive. Either that, or just throw it in the trash and start again. It’s not wasted effort. It’s practice.
Are you ready to become a real writer now? Good. You can start in 3… 2… 1…