It’s almost the new year and it’s the time for people to start setting goals and resolutions for themselves. I have already talked about mine far too much, but there’s another one I see very often around this time of year coming from writers and people who want to get into a better writing habit.
I’m going to write 1000 words a day.
Now, this resolution is a nice idea with some great foundation. Writing every single day is a good habit and 1000 words is a very manageable goal for a day’s word count. At the end of the year, you’ll have so much stuff written! And after that, it will be easy to just keep writing that much every day because you’ll have that habit down.
On the other hand, a year is a long time and a lot of stuff can come up in that time. You get sick, your computer breaks, you get carpal tunnel. There’s days you just can’t bring yourself to get it done. Other, more important stuff comes up and you have to deal with that instead. And if you can’t get to that 1000 words for the day, it can make you feel like a failure.
I’ve seen instances where people stopped at 1000 words in the day and left the rest of it until the next day out of fear that they wouldn’t have anything for the next day’s word quota.1 As I’ve learned now that I do have that regular writing habit, stopping when you’re on a roll can make it really difficult to pick up where you left off the next day because the spark doesn’t always stay with you that long.
I’d instead propose a slight modification on the goal. Maybe instead of 1000 words a day, aim for 366,000 words for 2016.2 From there, break it down to, say, 31000 words for January, 29000 for February, and then allow for a little more flexibility. That way you can still aim for that 1000 words a day, but going over means that you will have a buffer for those days where you just can’t do any writing that day for whatever reason.
I’ve done the 1000 words a day challenge in the past and had to switch really quickly over to this methodology. My laptop died in the first month of the year and then finals took over my life a few months later. I needed to give myself a break, and so I started writing more words earlier in order to have time later for other parts of my life to have my full attention.
And I still developed a strong writing habit from it. With a lofty goal like 366,000 words, you need to pace yourself. It’s still going to be a year long challenge for most people, and 1000 words a day is a great way to get yourself into a regular habit, but maybe instead of holding yourself to a daily word count, rearrange the resolution and give yourself the chance to take a break now and then if you need it.
And, of course, if you happen to hit the goal a little early, there’s no reason you can’t increase that number a little. Find what’s good for you and go for it.
Good luck and happy new year everyone. May next year be better than the last.