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500 x 8

Posted on 12 January 2014

Eight days ago I decided I was going to write 500 words a day, every day. I’ll be honest: I didn’t think I’d make it a week. I did think I’d make it a few days, and that would be something.

As it stands, I actually have written 500 or more words every single day for nine days, including this one. A good number of those words have been half-formed thoughts and gobbledygook.

And that’s OK. The goal is to write 500 words, not 500 excellent words. As it stands, the gobbledygook has resulted in several publishable pieces of writing (so long as we’re able to use “put it on my blog” as the standard for “publishable”).

What’s interesting about this is half the time I didn’t think what I was writing would lead to anything fully-formed. In fact, this very post started as me just writing free-form nonsense before it coalesced into a subject.

I find that fascinating because it says something about how you accomplish goals. Again, not a new or original piece of advice, but one that I am learning the value of and is worth repeating.

The trick is to set tangible targets.

If I were to set a goal of “do good writing” that would be all fine, but it really doesn’t say anything. It just sort of assumes you can write well, and all you need to do is decide to start doing so.

Which is true, in a way, but there are other things you have to do first. Like write more. So maybe you could say “write more” and that is your goal.

But do you know what “more” is? How are you measuring that? I know if I had said “write more” I wouldn’t have had any real sense of what that would look like— I’ve never paid attention to daily word counts prior to this.

But with “500 words a day” I know whether or not I am hitting my targets. I’m writing this in Draft where I can see the little word counter going up and up and up (101 words left by the end of this sentence).

And that’s all I’m worried about: hitting 500 words each da. Once I do it, I’ve accomplished my goal, and I win. Then I do it the next day and win again. The byproduct is I get blog posts, my writing improves, and- hopefully- I wind up with more pieces of writing I am proud of.

It’s sort of like my other major goal – “get in better shape.” Means very little. So I’ve broken it down into chunks- a mini-workout every morning, go to the gym or equivilent five times a week, stretch on a daily basis. It’s not “getting into shape” over the course of the year, it’s doing achievable things on each and every day. The end result is, hopefully, I’m in better shape, but that’s not how the goal is defined.

I’m not sure this works for everyone, but I’ve discovered it works for me. All I’m really doing is tricking myself into thinking big goals are actually a whole bunch of small ones – but then, maybe they are.

Filed under: misc

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