Daily Writing Habit: How to Write 75,000 Words in a Month [30DHC]
How many words can I write in a month?
That's something I've wondered for awhile.
As an Internet entrepreneur and Kindle publisher, I know that reaching a high word count can have a positive effect on my income. In theory, the more words I write means more success for my business.
For the last six months, I've averaged 50,000 to 60,000 words per month. However, I've never attempted to push this boundary and set a really high word count goal.
So for January, I decided to improve my daily writing habit. I set a modest goal of 75,000 words for the month.
Here’s how it went.
Write 75,000 Words in a Month
Here’s an overview on how to increase word count…
#1 – Reason Why increasing word count matters
Writing is a habit that directly relates to the success of my Internet business. It affects my ability to create blog posts, Kindle books, information products and email marketing messages. Generally speaking, the more I wrote, the more money I'll make. So it makes sense to push the boundaries of what I think is possible and to strive for a higher word count than I've ever achieved before.
Also, I'm a firm believer in one of Vince Lombardi's famous sayings:
While I think it's important to set milestones, I believe it's equally important to focus on improving your skill set. I also wanted to use this experience to improve the quality of my writing. By practicing perfection every day, I hoped to make a small improvement to my writing skills.
#2 – How To increase word count
This next section details the steps I used to reach my goal of writing 75,000 words per month. Whatever your level of writing, you can use the same principles to increase your writing by 10-25% per month. Then once you are comfortable with the higher level output of words. Do it again.
I do the bulk of my writing work from Monday to Thursday, leaving Fridays for meetings and papeerwork. I also take care of my little boy during much of my writing time. This means I had to be really smart about how I manage time. Every minute counts
Typically, I block out my time in 25 minute increments using The Pomodoro Technique. That means I had to create a few rules for when to write and how much I'd do each day.
Here's what I did to build up this writing habit:
Write for 4 blocks immediately when I woke up (Monday through Thursday)
Write for 2 blocks after lunch (Monday through Thursday)
Write for 2 blocks when I woke up (Friday)
Write for 10 additional blocks whenever I completed priority projects for the day (Varies each day)
With writing, you can't wait for inspiration. Instead, you have to schedule this activity and stick to it, even if you're not in the mood. In a way, it's like a job where you show up every day. You simply get your butt in the chair every day, do the work and make no excuses.
Besides blocking out time, I used an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of my word count. This document includes a few columns:
Date and time
Type of writing (rough draft vs. 2nd draft)
Total word count for the writing session
Blocks of time used for the writing session
Average word count (total words / blocks of time)
All of this information was critical because it helped my identify my “optimal writing state.” For instance, I averaged 487 words (per block) in the morning at my kitchen table, but I averaged 543 words at Starbuck's Coffeehouse in the afternoon (when my child is in daycare). So if I wanted to improve my “words-per-hour” output, all I had to do was spend more time in a coffeehouse.
#3 – Obstacles
The major obstacle to this habit challenge was the fact that it's an important, but not urgent activity. When it comes to time management, there are four types of tasks you'll encounter in the business world. While writing is important for my long-term goals, it's not as an urgent as an important email or Skype phone call. These activities involve another person who expects your participation, so it wasn't always easy to “find time” to do as much writing as I wanted.
What did help was blocking out the first few hours every day. By adding a few routines that increased my energy in the morning, I was able to write a lot before 9 am. (For more on this, check out my Kindle book, “Wake Up Successful“)
Focus is another big issue. The more you focus when writing, the better you will do. When I am at home writing, I need to keep some focus on my child, making sure he is not up to any dangerous shenanigans. Naturally, this slows down the word count. On the other hand, the “white noise” of writing in public actually helps me block out all distractions. These are clear reasons why focus is the major difference between the two sets of word counts I tracked during this word count experiment.
Since focus is a key to writing, word count, writing well and just about any task that matters… you may want to check out this post on the power of focus.
#4 – Results
Okay, technically I failed with my word count goal. In total, I did 74,508 words – about 500 short of what I wanted.
On the other hand, I consider the month to be successful from a productivity standpoint. During this time, I wrote:
5 blog posts for DevelopGoodHabits.com
work on two “in progress” Kindle books
6 email marketing messages
Assorted mini-articles in different Facebook groups and forums
In addition, I found that my speed of writing has improved. By focusing on a large word count goal, I was able to ignore that “inner editor” voice that often pops up when I'm creating a piece of content. As a result, I'm now able to write more words with the same amount of time.
#5 – Verdict
Keep it! And double down. Continue to strive for increased word count.
I love the idea of having a word count goal for every month. However, I think it's useful to focus on a target number that's slightly beyond your current output. That way you can stretch your comfort zone and challenge yourself.
The one thing I'm going to change is the specific word count for each month. There are certain periods when I won't have time for writing. Moving forward, I'll look at my schedule at the start of each month and set a challenging, but doable goal.
For instance, in July I'll be in Greece, in August I'm going on a few small trips and in September I'll be back to work. So I can set realistic goals that match my available time for each month:
March: 80,000 words
April: 85,000 words
May: 60,000 words (I have a two week trip in May)
June: 100,000 words (yeah, I'm gonna go for it!)
The key to all this is to create a word count goal that encourages the writing habit, instead of making you feel overwhelmed.
How to Create a Daily Writing Habit
I'll be the first to admit that it's not easy to write on a consistent basis. It requires a strong level of willpower and a willingness to do the same thing day after day. What I recommend is following this six-step strategy:
Set a specific word count goal for every month
Focus on completing smaller writing projects like blog posts, short stories, novellas or Kindle books.
Block out a specific times each day for writing
Track metrics like word count, location and time of day
Identify your “optimal writing time”
Write in the locations and times where you work best
The common characteristic of successful writers is they've developed a habit. Even if they're not in the mood to write, they'll still put in the work on a daily basis. If you follow this six-step strategy, your writing habit will improve and you'll create more words every single month.
Want to see EVERYTHING it takes to create your own writing habit? Check out my Writing Habit Mastery book. It will teach you all the basics you need to know for taking your daily writing habit to the next level.