The 1,000,000 Word Challenge

So I’ve set myself something of a challenge, dear readers, to start on July 1st of this year – in about five days.

I’m going to write one million (1 with six 0’s after it!) words in a year. The Australian financial year, to be precise – from the beginning of July 1st, 2014, to midnight on June 30th, 2015. I’ve chosen this number because it’s a nice round number, and because I like the idea of seven-figure year.

Previous years (not this last year, this last year has been god awful) have seen me hit 600k, and that was just as the mood took me, so this isn’t unreasonable. I’ll be breaking down the word counts below, though.

Also at roughly 70,000 words per story (my average), that’ll be about 14 novels.

So the math (because numbers are pretty):

1,000,000 words/365 days in the year = 2740 words a day (2739.72, precisely, so rounded up)

2740 words a day =

  • 19,180 words a week
  • 76,720 words a month
  • 1,000,100 words a year (so more than a million with the rounding. Heh.)

I won’t be aiming for 2740 words a day, though. No, no, no. I’m aiming for 3000+, at the very least. Every day I write more than the 2740 is a day that brings me closer to the target before the year’s up.

1,000,000 words/3000 words a day = 333.33 days

That means I could feasibly have 30 ‘zero days’. Or two and a bit days a month where I don’t write a word. This is assuming, of course, that I stop on 3,000 words. I’ve been known to write upwards of 10,000 a day, when I’m in the zone. Granted, these days are as rare as a pink diamonds, but we find a few of those a year, don’t we? Yeah, we do.

My general writing pace, once I force myself into the chair, varies between 800-1200 words an hour. Some times I can hit my stride and sink 1500 words in an hour, but let’s assume an average of 1000. Because that’s about right. So at a 1000 words an hour I should need 3 hours a day to hit my 3k target – and beyond. The math on 3 hours a day?

3 hours of writing/24 hours in a day*100 = 12.5% of the day.

That’s all.

Just over 1/10th of the day. Cut out visits to the pub and reruns of Doctor Who and I can find my 3 hours. I’ll be working full time 5 days a week, too, so the schedule will be important. Need to see the numbers to see if I’ll make it.

I haven’t forgotten about editing, either. Arguably where the real writing is done is in revision. I’ll be devoting between 90-120 minutes a day to that task. So another 2 hours. That’s 5 hours scheduled for writing and writing related tasks – producing the product that brings in those writing pennies.

5 hours of writing and editing/24 hours in a day*100 = 20.8% of the day.

So, 1/5th of the day. Still not entirely unreasonable. Perhaps a disciplined ask given other time commitments, such as work and sleep, but I want this, I want this bad, so I’ll aim to get my 5 hours.

Let’s look at a bit more math based on increased daily word targets.

1,000,000 at:

  • 4000 words a day will take 250 days (8 months or so)
  • 5000 words a day will take 200 days (6 ½ months or so)
  • 6000 words a day will take 167 days (5 ½ months or so)
  • 7000 words a day will take 143 days (4 ¾ months or so)
  • 8000 words a day will take 125 days (4 months or so)
  • 9000 words a day will take 111 days (3 ¾ months or so)
  • 10000 words a day will take 100 days (3 ½ months or so)

Could knock out a cheeky 10,000 words a day for the next 100 days and take 9 months off. Sorely tempting, but I imagine my delicate writer’s fingers will be reduced to ragged, bloody stumps if I attempted such madness. Tempting, though…

I’ll do weekly updates, I reckon, tracking the progress. Blog posts and such will not count toward the daily target. Only words of fiction that advance my stories.

I’m under no illusions here. I may miss this target severely. But I believe the numbers will count as motivation. No zero days, not really, and even if I walk away with a measly 500k, that’s still 7 or so novels. More than worth a year.

First update on July 7th – which should see me at around 20,000 words for the financial year.

So who’s with me?

Cheers,

Joe