Hi Bookish People,
I’m going to tell you about a totally insane thing I did and then tomorrow I’m going to tell you how you can do the same. Last year I set a big goal and I wrote over 1 million words in 365 days. I wrote 2,740+ words every single day with less than five scheduled exceptions (I believe it was 3). It took discipline, ambition, and a healthy dose of naive optimism.
It was the single most important year of my writing life as I had hoped it would be. I set this goal because I knew that writing daily would be good for working on my craft and that a huge goal meant I couldn’t slack off for even a day. Taking a day off writing might work if you have novel to write this year but not if you have a million words to write and no idea what curveball life might throw at you to mess it up. Every writing day was precious.
When I was done with my undergraduate work I seriously considered pursuing an MFA so that I could be a ‘real writer.’ Instead I pursued working with animals because at least I knew that those jobs actually existed and could be acquired with the right resume. Once I had pursued a degree that felt legitimate and had Science in the title I was left wondering what the other path would have looked like.
The conclusion I came to was that I could still work on my craft without the MFA. In fact, by pushing myself to write so much every day I would produce a lot more work than if I had been in a program. It helped me to learn skills that I don’t think I would have learned in an MFA program. It was a year of ditching the fear and uncertainty that comes with creating.
In that year I wrote over 12 novels, several short stories, novelettes, personal essays, and deeply personal journal entries. I created more in one year than a lot of people create in a lifetime. Was all of my content good? No, absolutely not. Some, if not most of it, wasn’t that great. Some of it was pure garbage. But, I did produce a lot of things that I’m really proud of. I wrote about things that I’m going to be grateful I wrote ten years from now. Most importantly, everything I wrote was valuable because every day was a chance to practice and learn.
That year also helped me solidify the belief that writers block doesn’t exist. I know that it’s a big bold statement to say that writers block doesn’t exist, especially when people claim to suffer from it all the time, but I don’t believe in it anymore. You can’t afford to get blocked on a story when you have to write so much on a daily basis. Writers block isn’t a lack of ideas, or a lack of knowledge of where to go next, it’s the fear of moving a project forward and of messing it all up. If you write the next chapter it might suck and that can be paralyzing. If you are writing 2,740 words a day, every day, then you don’t have a lot of time to sit there and clam up. You have to move quickly and recklessly. It’s just what I needed.
I learned so much about pacing and story structure. It’s impossible not to be in tune with the feel of your novel when you’re seeing it through 2,470 word chunks every single day until it’s done. You can easily see when the novel is too slow, when something needs to happen, or when a character isn’t getting enough attention. I feel like I learned a rhythm in my work that will serve me the rest of my writing life.
The last few months I’ve been focusing more on editing than producing. For me it’s the next step in my learning adventure. I edited eight novels during that year but I know I still have much to learn and my next big step will be finding a good critique group. I know that I can always keep growing.
I think it’s clear that getting rid of the limiting belief that you need a special degree to write was beneficial. As were the lessons in craft and productivity. In my next post I’ll be talking about my strategy during that year and how I got it all done.
Be sure to follow the blog to see how you can tackle your own big challenge or just kickstart your creative productivity. You can also check me out on Instagram @YourBookishBrand. If you have any questions please always feel free to leave a comment, shoot me an email, or send me a DM on Instagram.
P.s. I grabbed the header image here.