My 10,000 Words A Day Challenge

10,000 Words Every Day

I’m a bit late to the party with the challenges for 2012 because I launched this blog a little later than planned. But I’ve had over two weeks of the year to get going on the tasks I’ve set myself and it’s time to share my major plans for the coming months.

What I will do in 2012

This blog is about writing, so I’m not going to bore you with my fitness and other personal goals. And in writing, I’m not setting any publication goals yet for 2012. I’ll revisit that after July but for the first six months of 2012 I’ve set myself the following task:

My first challenge for 2012 is be writing 10,000 words a day by July.

You may find this an unrealistic and, perhaps, rather ludicrous goal. (When I told my elder daughter my plan yesterday while dropping her back to university, she said “I can’t imagine writing that many words: that’s three times the length of the essay I’ve been writing this week. It’s an end of term dissertation every day.”)

She’s right, of course. But there’s a purpose to my madness. By writing so many words, I believe I’ll spark new ideas and see other opportunities opening up. That’s the great thing about writing – it leads to more. You can think of writing as something whole and of itself but there’s no doubt that writing resonates across the rest of your life. For the writer, if writing’s going well, life is good; if not, life pretty much sucks.

The inspiration for the aspiration

I read a post the other day by fantasy writer Rachel Aaron in which she explained how she had been able to write 10,000 words a day by the simple practice of taking a few moments at the start of each session to jot down lightly and roughly (nice combo) what she was planning to write. (The post has a lot more tips and advice – do read it – but that’s the crucial piece I took away.)

One thing I noticed about Rachel’s blog, however, was that when I have a fair number of tabs open in Firefox, the name is abbreviated thus ….

This could be the universe having a wee chuckle about my own plans.

Rachel is a fantasy writer. Fantasy is something I don’t often read. Not for any reason of snobbery or dislike of elves or verdant glades and magic. Of course, once you get into the whole defining books by genre thing, you inevitably piss someone off by getting the genre wrong. And I hate genre definitions anyway.

So, here’s a quick clarification: I read and enjoyed The Hobbit, which I think most people would agree is a fantasy novel. Then I started Lord of the Rings. I didn’t get very far. Specifically, I couldn’t get past the singing idiot in the woods – Tom Bombasomebody, or whatever. Every few years I would try again and stick (as the writing stuck in my throat) at the same point. I could have skipped that part but I didn’t trust Tolkien any more. He could easily chuck in some equally inane and irritating character at any time. That was the end of my fantasy period.

For all I know, none of Rachel’s character’s sing – or even hum – as they wander through the forest. The point is, of course, it doesn’t matter what sort of book Rachel writes. If Rachel is a fantasy writer and the methods she uses to write a lot of words work, it should equally apply to a romance novelist or a crime novelist – or even a student writing end of term papers.

Should? Will! Why not?

Here’s how I’ll do it

I want to move up to finding it easy (possible, at least!) to write 10,000 words a day by July 1st. Here’s the schedule to make that happen:

  • I shall do 1,000 words every day through January
  • 2,000 words through February
  • 3,500 in March
  • 5,500 in April
  • 7,000 in May
  • I’ll start June on 8,500 and ramp up to the magic 10,000 by June 30th

Put like that, it seems almost feasible.

Now, unlike Rachel Aaron, I won’t be working on single pieces of work. My total will cover everything I’m writing on a daily basis – from blog posts to articles to web pages for clients to fiction. The secret is obviously planning – both in terms of time and in terms of what needs to be written.

This excites me because it seems both practical and practicable. And, more importantly, if I find that I can’t do it and that somewhere around the 5,000 mark – or even 2,000 words – is my limit, then I shall have discovered that and will make 2,000 words a day my habit and that will still be 2,000 words a day better than my current habit.

That’s the real goal: to establish a habit of writing and a regular doable total of words. If I can hit 10,000 words for even a small number of consecutive days, that total will never be able to frighten me again. And when I work on completing the latest novel, I’ll be able to commit to a deadline that is achievable.

Since I started this challenge on January 1st, for the great majority of those days I have already written over 2,000 words instead of the 1,000 I set myself. I went away for a week in the French Alps with my family and wrote a short story in three days. All because the initial 1,000 words I was writing freed up some energy and flow to direct elsewhere.

That’s the way the magic works. Write more to write more.

What could possibly stop me?



My Inner Critic.

In other words, the Three Horsemen of the Oesophagus that traditionally surge up into the head of the struggling writer.

What success will mean

Drain clearance, short and simple.

I have years and years of blocked up flow to flush away. This process is going to go a long way to making room for fresh and clear running water.

My problem has never been about lack of ideas. It has always been about getting the hand moving over the page, whether with a pen, on a typewriter, or using a computer. If ever there was a way to blast that issue back to oblivion, cranking out 10,000 words in a day – repeatedly – is it.

Will you be joining me?

It’s always good to have companions on the climb. When you slip, it’s reassuring to know there’s someone else holding the rope.

So, if anyone wants to join the challenge and share tips and strategies, please come along. It could be a bumpy ride – but definitely worthwhile.

If the masochism of the 10K Challenge is not for you, tell me about your writing goals and challenges for 2012.


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