On Writing

Why 1000 Words a Day is Easy and Quick

I write, minimum, 1000 words a day. I’ve been doing this consistently for three and a half years now, throughout my university career, moving home three times, travelling cross country, while writing my thesis. I do it because, after so long, it’s become easy. I know all the tricks.

Let me teach you.

I write 1000 words because 1000 is divisible by ten. That’s the secret. I never wake up with the intention of writing 1000 words, but with the intention of writing 100 words. I can usually figure out what those 100 words will be while I’m taking my morning shower, and I get them down before breakfast. 100 words takes about five minutes, less if I know what I want to type before I start typing.

How much is 100 words? This post is already 129 words, if that helps you to visualise. It isn’t much.

Here’s the trick, though. First – I never stop in the middle of a sentence. So, if I do a wordcount on the section I just finished and it adds up to 98, too bad. Add another sentence.

Second – if the wordcount is over 100, it still only counts for 100.

Third – I don’t allow myself to think, Hurray, 100 words! I think, Hurray, one out of ten! And I make a little stroke on a piece of paper, so I don’t forget.

This is important. You have to trick your brain. Ten is much less than one thousand. Ten is achievable. Ten lots of five minutes is a pittance, while one thousand words is massive. If you think in terms of ten, you can find opportunities all through your day – on the bus to work, in the lunchbreak (sometimes twice!), the bus home, during the sports section of the nightly news, in between ad breaks while watching NCIS. You don’t have to give up your whole day. Just five minutes, ten times.

The best thing about this method? Since you will almost always be a sentence or two over the 100 word limit for each chunk, you’ll finish the day thinking you have 1000 words… but you’ll actually have anywhere between 1100 and 1300. Don’t think that makes a difference? That turns 30,000 words at the end of the month into almost 39,000. It lets you finish a novel draft in three months instead of four. Four books a year instead of three.

Five minutes, ten times. Try it. Don’t let yourself get tied to any one part of your story, or even any one story. Got an idea for any scene, in any book? Jump to it. Add 100 words. Make a cup of tea. Do it again.

And again.

And again.

If you enjoyed this post, why not pick up my science fiction novella The Eighteen Revenges of Doctor Milan, which I wrote using this method?

Want more info on the discipline of writing? Check out my collection of articles!