Hey Bookish People,
Last week I told you about why I tackled a personal challenge to write one million words in 365 day. Today I’m going to tell you how. Even if the idea of taking on a writing challenge that big sounds daunting or impossible I think what I wrote will be applicable to anyone who wants to get their novel written.
This goal was so big that I had to make it my number one priority or I would never get it done. Writing was usually the first thing I did in the morning and it came before obligations with family and friends. For an entire year I told everyone and anyone that I would only spend time with them after my words for the day were written. Is it a little rude to say that? Maybe. Really I think that most people understood and the majority were happy to cheer me on in reaching my goal.
I knew when I would write every day. It was crucial to look at my month and week to see where I could find potential pitfalls and obstacles to getting writing done. Staying with family was always a challenge but was remedied by waking up earlier than everyone else. Holidays were similar. If I didn’t want to write on a particular day, or if I couldn’t ditch any obligations on a super busy day, I made sure I hit my word count the day before. My personal rule was that I was not allowed to go to bed until the word count had been hit. It was a ton of work but I planned well enough to spread out the extra word count throughout the week before. It sounds overwhelming but I did this less than five times all year.
I had to be really creative at times in figuring out how I was going to get things done. I had two setbacks during that year where I considered giving up. The first was the case of carpal tunnel that I developed when I was in the middle of leaving my library job and selling 98% of my things to move onto a boat. When I sat down to write and winced at the pain in my wrist I thought my writing streak was over. I spent an hour or so laying in bed feeling awful before I become determined to figure out a way. After a quick bit of research I settled on using the voice to text feature for Microsoft Word. It was not perfect. It was actually pretty terrible but I got my words in that way until my wrist healed up.
The second major setback was the death of my laptop. Well, sort of death (it came back to life a week later). It’s death was sudden and it forced me to problem solve. I tried writing by hand but it would have taken me all day to write 2,740 words. I knew that I could use the computers at my local library but I would only get an hour per day and that wasn’t quite enough to hit my word count. I thought that I might be able to knock out the rest of my word count on my phone if I had to. Ideas kept appearing until I knew that it could still get done. Luckily, in this case, my husband left me his personal laptop that week so I could work. The experience taught me two important lessons 1) always back up everything on your computer 2) There is always a way, even if it isn’t easy.
I had to be open to new writing experiences. When you have a million words to produce in a year you have to go with what your gut is telling you and sometimes it’ll take you out of your genre and comfort zone. I wrote anything that came to mind. Romance, horror, short, long, poetry, essays, and reflective journal entries.
I would often feel like I was cheating by writing about my own life and my response to the world around me but less than a year later I feel that it might of been some of my most important work. That year was spent living on a sailboat and adjusting to a brand new marriage during a turbulent political season so there is a lot of important history written in those pages. Sometimes I think we stick too closely to what we know and don’t branch out enough. Write something different and see what happens.
I don’t think you can commit to a goal like that so publicly and not be stubborn. I was determined to reach my goal because I had promised myself and told everyone in my life about it. Stubbornness saw me through the days I dreaded sitting down to work. It was the driving force behind me figuring out how to get around the obstacles that ended up in my path. I don’t think I would have made it to my goal without it.
I hope that this post inspires you to set some hard goals for yourself and get some writing done! If you guys are interested I’ll go more in depth into my time management practices during that time. Be sure to follow the blog to see it.
Would you ever consider a million word challenge? How do you think it would impact your writing life? I’d love to hear your thoughts about it in the comments. You can also reach out to me over on Instagram!