My 500 Words Challenge

It’s amazing sometimes how the universe seems to be sending very distinct messages, as if it’s conspiring for goodness.  Pronoia.  After writing a post about forming writing habits and a post about writing word by word, my reading of Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life presents me with this food for thought, which she refers to as “comfort for friends discouraged by their writing pace:”

“It takes years to write a book, between two and ten years. Less is so rare as to be statistically insignificant… Thomas Mann was a prodigy of production. Working full time, he wrote a page a day. That is 365 pages a year… At a page a day, he was one of the most prolific writers who ever lived.  Flaubert wrote steadily…For twenty-five years he finished a big book every five to seven years.  If a full-time writer averages a book every five years, that makes seventy-three usable pages a year, or a usable fifth of a page a day… On plenty of days the writer can write three or four pages, and on plenty of other days he concludes he must throw them away.” (13-14)

Then an email from Jeff Goins over at shows up in my inbox with an invitation to participate in a 31 day 500 word challenge.  Jeff’s advice echoes Annie’s:

“Here’s what I know about writing: It happens in small bites. Step by step. One little chunk at a time. You don’t write a whole book. You write sentences that turn into paragraphs. And paragraphs turn into sections that, then, turn into chapters.  In other words, it all begins with words. You don’t control the outcome, just the process.”

So, clearly, the cosmos are trying to tell me something and I figure that I don’t really have much choice other than to join the challenge.  I won’t be holding myself too strongly to the word count, but I’ll be working really hard to make sure my butt is in my writing seat for at least an hour a day, as per my New Year’s System.  And I’ll be using the My 500 Word Challenge as extra motivation.  Nearly 700 other writers have signed up so far, so it should be some excellent community-building.  I’ll be tracking progress here.   Feel free to join us!

My 500 Words Widget

January 1: 1087

January 2: 675

January 3: 940

January 4: 545

January 5: 629

January 6: 1201

January 7: 524

January 8: 0

January 9: 1152

January 10: 1398

January 11: 540

January 12: 513

January 13: 583

January 14: 503

January 15: 1159

January 16: 278

January 17: 0

January 18: 1097

January 19: 506

January 20: 537

January 21: 1302

January 22: 2173

January 23: 0

January 24: 0

January 25: 634

11 thoughts on “My 500 Words Challenge”

  1. Great post! Good luck on the challenge :D

    The universe definitely sends messages and tends to do it all the time, whether we’re listening is another matter entirely. Hard sometimes to listen when there is so much noise in the inside and outside world.

    My favourite piece of advice about writing is:

    “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” ― Ernest Hemingway

    To me that says – see the ink (even cyber ink) and the words the ink forms as your blood, and your blood is your voice telling your story.

  2. I really like this post. It has reminded me that I write just to write and I don’t care how much or how often, or even what y’all think of it. If I make myself feel good, that is the point for me. Thanks for making me reflect and smile today.

  3. I adore Annie Dillard…and the only piece I’ve ever read of hers is the one about Living Like Weasels! Haha. You ever read that one? Good post!
    I’ll keep an eye out for your stuff!

    In Earnest,

    King Pollux ~ Adam Kristofer Walkingstick King

  4. Best of luck with your challenge! I tried something similar last year, and after a few months my novel was written. It’s really motivating to have a strong, achievable goal like this.

  5. Impressive progress, so far. I need to prod myself a bit – my two novels in progress have been neglected lately. At least I added 1168 words yesterday, in a rather tricky section which had to set the scene for important aspects.
    The stats regarding writing rates are interesting, indeed. Of course, some popular authors have been writaholics with outputs of over 5000 words a day – but I would imagine quality must suffer for those.

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