1000 words a day

When I first discovered Jami Attenberg’s 1000 Words of Summer (on the day it began), I thought: this is just what I need. I had been trying to get back into a regular writing routine for the past month and failed miserably. I’d write 500 words one day, 400 the next. I’d skip a day or two, then somehow get out 800 words. But there was no method to the madness. There was no structure. And according to all the articles I was reading about working from home, I needed structure. A schedule.

I’m a woman who loves a good schedule. Schedules keep me focused. Schedules help me stay on track when I start to get distracted. But being home all day, every day, for months has affected me in ways I haven’t felt since I used to publish a fashion magazine from my home. Yet even then, I was allowed to leave my house and go anywhere I wanted, whenever I wanted.

Things are different this time around, and so I needed a challenge: a 1000-words-a-day kind of challenge. I needed to be held accountable; I needed to join the conversation. And so I opened Ulysses, created a new project just for this hashtag, and started typing.

And tweeting!

One of my favorite things about #1000wordsofsummer was keeping up with everyone else’s progress on Twitter. It was nice to feel part of a writing group again, where everyone was working towards the same goal. It was nice to share our ups and our downs, our highs and our lows. In fact, this may be what I will miss about the challenge the most.

For the record, I am a handwriting kind of woman. I have kept journals for the past 17 years and seem to remember tasks best when I write them down on paper versus typing them into my phone. Handwriting works best for me for short passages, journal entries, or brain dumps. But when I am working on longer pieces, like essays, I like to type these first—it helps me keep up with the thoughts in my brain.

Plus, Ulysses has this very handy, encouraging Goal tool that counts my words quietly in the corner, my progress forming a slow, perfect circle. When it lights up green for hitting my goal, I always let out a sigh of relief. It’s such a rewarding feeling!

One day at a time.

For the first few days of #1000wordsofsummer, I wrote extensive journal entries. These were almost akin to stream of consciousness and felt very satisfying to do. Normally in my bullet journal, my entries range between 200-300 words, yet here was an opportunity for me to dive a little deeper.

Typically, I feel hesitant to write super specific, ultra personal details in my handwritten journal because anyone can just pick it up and read it. But since my word processor is password-protected, I felt much more freedom to get more personal.

I wrote about things that were triggering me lately, about how life in quarantine has been affecting my mental health. I wrote about George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement, the protests and the posts, the allies and the racists.

When I needed to feel a little lighter, I wrote about my Animal Crossing: New Horizons adventures, about my bullet journal plans for July-December. And I even wrote more targeted pieces, including a blog post or two. I now have several drafts that just need some more polishing up before posting!

The experience was invaluable.

If there’s anything I learned during these last two weeks, it’s that writing 1000 creative words a day isn’t easy. I’m a fashion copywriter by day and sometimes I can easily write 1000 words in the form of email marketing and product descriptions without realizing it. But those aren’t words towards a personal project of mine, or a goal of mine, and I find it much more challenging to get those personal words out sometimes.

One thing I will definitely take away from these last two weeks is the scheduled time. I am proud to say I reached my goal of 1000 words each day in 2 hours’ time. However, moving forward, I think I will drop this word count to 800 words per day instead, which is my ideal length of a blog post. Maybe I’ll just write 5 times a week, Monday-Friday, and save the weekends for planning, outlining, or just some time to recharge.

At this moment, I am still furloughed from work, so I will eventually readjust this schedule to align with my workday. But for now, while I’m still stuck at home, I will continue writing each day, even if it’s just for me.

Do you have a writing goal that you try to hit each day? How do you manage it, avoid burnout, and stay motivated? I want to know!


  1. I completely agree with you! I remember when I first sat down to write the first draft of my first novel, I set a word count goal of 1000 words per day (at least), which is funny because I also write longhand so after writing, I was “manually” counting all the words I had written. I have to say, it was an experience like no other! Not easy, especially on days I just didn’t know what to write, but I managed and in three months, I had a complete first draft.

    Would I do it again? Maybe… but it’s definitely something I cannot stick to as a daily ritual “forever”. Something much more manageable for me is setting aside at least an hour a day to write. But I have to say, sticking to those 1000 words changed me. Though I didn’t have the same community you did, which I can only imagine made it so much better and helped you stay accountable, it’s still a time in my life I’ll never forget. It also really helps you realize that writer’s block is typically all in your head. That if you really want to, you are ALWAYS able to write – and proving that to myself was something I didn’t know I needed, but now, I always call myself out when I try and plead victim to creativity. It’s like this evidence I will always look back to to prove to myself that on any given day, creativity is accessible to me. Maybe it doesn’t always flow. Maybe it’s harder on some days more than others. But it is still accessible.

    I could really relate to how you felt during this! It’s such a huge accomplishment and can feel like such a daunting task. But, I feel like once we fully commit to something like a challenge, it takes the indecisiveness out of the equation each day. “Will I write today?” “Should I write today?” “Do I feel like it?” None of that matters so instead of using up all that energy to be at war with your mind, we’re using it to write. Reading this really makes me want to recommit to that goal. Congrats on this accomplishment!! I think the most valuable part of any challenge is how we can incorporate things we learned into daily practices / regular life in a way that is more manageable and it seems like that’s exactly what you’ve done! 🙂

    1. Yes, I like the idea of setting a time limit! I’ve been doing that with reading actually–I’ll set aside an hour to just read a book and however far I get is how far I get–unless I’m absolutely dying to read more, then I do. But I think it’s also great to set aside a time frame, distraction-free, for writing, because it’s much more low-pressure that way. Sometimes I found that with 1000 words, I was typing extra words that weren’t really needed just to reach my goal ^^; And in the long run, that’s not really helping anybody.

      I like project-based-completion goals in this sense. I’ll say: this week, I want to write 2 blogs posts, and if I write 2 blog posts in 2 days, then I feel good and don’t have to stress about writing more that week. However, this is how I fall out of consistency. So it’s a tricky balance. I’m still trying to find that sweet spot where I’m not feeling FORCED and totally dread it, but I also know I have to push myself a little harder than usual when I DO feel this way.

      Generally, I think writing that much daily is not a good idea for me because of burnout. It’s good to recharge sometimes! Maybe on Sundays I’ll take a break? Maybe I won’t put a specific day, but just grant myself one free day a week not to write if I’m not up for it? On days where I don’t feel like writing constructively, I at least like to plan, outline, or get some ideas down. So it’s all about balance. I’m still tinkering with this, but I’m ever so closer now!

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