I recall reading a blog post by Nathan Barry several years ago about writing 1,000 words a day. Back then, it struck me at how simple the idea was, but I quickly learned that being consistent at this is incredibly difficult. Many people who want to tackle this challenge will be able to come up with the first few days of content but will quickly find that ideas start to dry up. I don’t know how many times I have attempted this challenge—several times, at least.
Why 1,000 Words a Day
Before I explain how I will tackle this problem, I would like to point out that you can pick whatever number works for you. I happen to like the number of words chosen. Writing a thousand words doesn’t seem like a lot, but when compounded over time, that equates to 365,000 words per year if you stay consistent. Pick a number that’s manageable for you, and go for it.
Chris Guillebeau wrote about writing 300,000 words a year consistently for three years. One of the takes from this article is what it allows him to output. With a thousand words a day, he can write one book a year, 150+ blog posts, and create content for 2 – 3 business projects. Writing a small amount each day can make such a difference over time. Although it makes sense that the numbers would add up, it is still easy to overlook this. Instead of writing, I can sit dreaming about what I could write. So for me, this challenge has meaning.
My Actual Writing Goal
Like Chris, I aim to write 300,000 words a year. I plan to write from Monday to Saturday and then take a break on Sunday. Although I will write in my journal on Sundays as I do now, it will be very unlikely that anything I write on Sunday will be published.
What Qualifies in those Thousand Words?
Words that qualify for the count each day are intended to be published somewhere. I write quite a lot in my journal and have done it for years, but nobody will read that content. For this reason, I intend that to qualify that it needs to be published. That might not be immediately, but it will be published at some time.
Writing daily has its challenges. I am aware of this, and I am sure many of you will be aware of it too. Only a few people I know of are consistent at keeping content flowing, and those who do are typically successful at what they do in their life and career.
Challenge 1 – Ideas Run Dry
Perhaps this is one of the most difficult challenges I have. When I begin with renewed energy to be more consistent at writing, I often do well for the first few days, sometimes for the first few weeks, but then it’s challenging to keep up motivation, especially when I struggle to come up with ideas.
One thing I have noticed over the last few years is that when I am creating things, in my case, writing apps for iPhone or doing backend/frontend work on a web app, I have lots of things I can write about. Yet, I don’t capture these ideas as they come to mind. I don’t make notes. I typically deal with the problems I am facing and then move on.
So here is the first thing I will be doing. I will begin making notes as I work, gradually recording bits of information at a time and storing them for when I need an idea to write about something.
Creating Every Day
To get those ideas, I need to be creating every day. Although I could get ideas when reading and watching other people’s work, the actual meaningful ideas come to me through my own creation and problem-solving. There’s a big difference between watching someone solve a problem or reading about how to solve a problem than there is figuring out how to solve a problem. You learn so much more doing it the latter way, and you have so much more to offer.
Over the last year, I have become more familiar with Tiago Forte’s work which he calls “Building a Second Brain”. For a long time, I have used technology to make notes, record meeting minutes, and save ideas, but none of it is in order of any useful benefit other than someone asking me if something was ever discussed somewhere. What strikes me about the second brain idea is that you can use it as a personal repository for storing ideas. A note on the front of the book says, “a proven method to organise your digital life and unlock your creative potential”. I haven’t finished reading the book yet, but from what I have read and seen of Tiago’s work over the last year, it is well worth purchasing.
Ideas are not things that will come to you in a time of need. They typically won’t come when you sit down to start typing on the keyboard. Ideas need to be found, written down, thought about, written about more, and then when needed, you can be ready to write what you learn.
The most significant part is consistently recording my ideas and making notes about what I do each day and interact with.
Find a Time Each Day to Write
One thing that helps me in other areas of my life is consistency. I’m not the type who can fit in something because there’s a gap in my schedule. I tend to work better when I schedule something beforehand and typically when I am consistent with the timing of it.
For me, I think the best time would be early morning to write when the family are still asleep and there are no distractions from phone calls and other goings on in the world.
One challenge of early mornings is waking up tired. Waking up earlier requires getting to bed at a good time. Getting to bed at a good time requires I change what I normally do in the evening and try to break that habit.
One thing I have found helpful is a Mac and iPhone app called Streaks. I added a few things to track daily, such as working on my personal projects, writing 1,000 words, studying, walking, etc. Some of those are tracked automatically, but others, like journalling and writing, require that I log them. I’m on day 11 of a writing streak which is good for me. Today was one of those days where I would skip it, but I decided I wanted to keep the streak going. I aim to reach New Year’s Eve, having written 6,000 words per week.
Choosing What to Write About
In the first 11 days of my 11-day streak, I have just written with little planning beforehand. I have spent more time than previous attempts at coming up with ideas but haven’t put much organisation beyond that. What I plan to do after another week or so of writing is to start putting a writing plan together. I want to write with more purpose, such as creating an eBook on SwiftUI and iOS app development. When I plan that out, I will have an actual goal to work towards. Writing 1,000 words per day will be the vehicle that helps me reach my goals.