We are continuing with our series on Life’s Essential Ingredients. This is my personal list, but I hope that you will find at least one or two that resonate with you and offer some helpful suggestions. So far, we have covered Workouts and Worship and Homeschooling. Today, we are looking at writing 500 words daily. So, whether you are an established or an aspiring writer, this one’s for you:)
4. Write something, at least 500 words in length. Does 500 sound like a lot of words? How much time does it take to write 500 words? Is this just an arbitrary number I picked? To begin, I picked 500 words because that is the number that got me started writing again when I found Jeff Goins’ Facebook group My 500 Words. Did you know that if you write 500 words a day, you could have a two books written within a year? Five hundred words translates to a mere15-30 minutes of writing, depending on how fast you type and the words flow, but think of what you can accomplish with that daily investment!
Even so, I have struggled to commit to this practice every day. Somehow, that number still looms large in front of me, and I don’t think I can carve out the time for it. Now that I’ve begun this blog and started doing jobs for Upwork (formerly oDesk), it has been achievable, but how can I ensure that the words will find their way onto paper or this screen each day? Here are four ways to make daily writing a reality:
1. Write down your writing goals. Obviously, one of my goals is to write 500 words each day. But, why? What will all of those words add up to? What do I hope to accomplish with my words? It can be more than one thing; in fact, I recommend it, so that if you get stuck in one area, you have others to fall back on.
Do you want to write that novel in one year? It’s not all going to come out in one night, you know, although people have been known to do it in a month with NaNoWriMo. Make an outline of your story, and work on a section at a time, developing characters, setting, plot line, conflict, climax, and resolution. There are so many facets to a novel; some part of the process should drive you to write each day.
Perhaps you have a blog, and you want someone besides your mom to read it. If you write regularly, they will come (oh, and don’t forget the impeccable grammar, compelling content, and great images). For now, I am working on three posts per week, so I don’t stress myself out as I get started. What is a standard blog post length? You guessed it, 500 words. (Ahem, please don’t pay attention to my word count today).
Or, you may just be writing for yourself, needing that daily release of thoughts and dreams and reflections on the day. A daily entry in your private journal qualifies, too.
2. Have an accountability group or partner. Being part of the My 500 Words group has definitely helped to motivate me. When I see people reaching their writing goals, getting published, winning contests, or making it through an entire year of writing 500 words a day, I climb right back on my horse and start writing again. Find someone who will check in with you, encourage you, and challenge you to do your daily writing. Ultimately, we are accountable to ourselves, and I know how discouraged I feel when I let the days slip by without a word released. However, having that special person or group also makes an impact.
3. Create room in your schedule to write. If you want to be a writer, you have to make it a priority. You have to set aside time for it, just like you do for a shower, making dinner, or reading the newspaper each morning. This has been difficult for me to do. I am still just writing whenever I get spare time in my day, sometimes stealing it from my other responsibilities (much to my husband’s chagrin). As I get more involved with this blog, I will have to firmly establish a routine for my day that incorporates time for writing. My early mornings are taken at the gym, and evenings aren’t guaranteed, so I have to find a window after breakfast or after school to get my writing done. The thing is, writing can be addictive, taking up too much time, so we need boundaries to allow for life to happen.
4. Realize that it all counts. Sometimes, I get legalistic about what counts for my daily writing. For example, my 500 words only counts if it is logged somewhere with an official number, like my blog or my novel-in-progress (which has been woefully neglected in Word for a few months now). I have to remind myself that anything I write is something written for the day, wherever, whatever it might be.
I can type a blog post here. I can make up a poem or a short story, or the opening scene of my novel. I can make a list about – well, anything: meal plans, things to do, places I’d like to go, people I need to connect with (more on that soon). The list is endless, so reaching 500 words should be no problem:)
Maybe, I will jot snippets on scraps of paper throughout the day. Or, I will write neatly on a loose leaf sheet of paper or scribble in my journal or scrawl something on the dry erase board. The point is, it all counts . . . as long as it gets out of my brain and into the physical universe. So, get writing already! And, let me know what you’ve got going. Let’s put those goals out there for everyone to see:)
(photo credit for featured image: www.hellogiggles.com)