- Start early. If you’re four hundred words ahead by breakfast, it spurs you on to finish the rest.
- It takes around an hour to write a thousand words. If you can’t find a full hour for your challenge per day, then either type faster, or find four lots of fifteen minutes.
- Use an online word counter, but don’t stop to count too often. I write exclusively in Evernote or Google Docs, both of which have built-in word counters. I also use wordcounter.net to confirm my totals. But if you’re checking every ten words, you’re breaking your concentration. Write without stopping for 17 minutes to start with. That’s the average length of time the human brain can stay focused. Give yourself a chance to become inspired while your pen, or keyboard, is in your hand.
- Write in a genre you don’t care about. I’m only half kidding. Writing something you hope to publish after the challenge puts pressure on you. Writing purely to establish a writing habit, or to loosen you up, or to empty your head of thoughts so you can then start your masterpiece – less pressure. This is especially true if you’re doing the Story a day in May challenge where you have to create 31 finished drafts. So if you write lit fic, write thriller instead. If you write romance or fantasy, pick something else for seven days, cosy mystery maybe. Cosy mystery people try horror. Trying to achieve greatness in your chosen genre is certainly possible, but seven days isn’t much time and your perfectionism and expertise in the genre are likely to get in the way. Whereas a thriller writer turning out some chunks of a medical mystery, well, that’s a result right there.
- – related. Stretch yourself. One thousand words of any old thing is good if this is your first time trying to write daily. But for seasoned old hands, it’s too easy. So check out point 4 and try a new genre or maybe a new form. Epistolary story, anyone?
- Resist the urge to make a 7 day creative writing challenge do two things at once. I’m very guilty of thinking hmm, my daily 1000 words could form seven 1000-word short stories... thus putting even more pressure on myself. There’s stretching yourself, see 5, and then there’s giving yourself seven extra deadlines to meet. Nobody needs that pressure. Some people, ahem, love it. But if you don’t love it, just write 1000 words daily for seven days.
- Be proud. Some writers are walking around wishing they could think of something. You’re at your keyboard creating. You’re doing it. These might not be perfect words but they’re better than the words still trapped in your head, waiting for you to get your butt in the chair.
Do you like – or loathe – a challenge? Let me know in the comments! Scroll down to see the Leave a Reply section.
Also published on Medium.