The Million Word Challenge — Become A Skilled Writer
What It Is
The title of this undertaking is self-explanatory. This is a commitment to write 1,000,000 words in one year, step by step. In order to accomplish this, we will have to write at least 2740 words every day. It’s recommended to go above and beyond that when you can, because that allows you to build up a buffer for days when you don’t have the time and energy to put in the full writing amount.
This is a challenge of will, focus and endurance. It allows you to think long-term and work towards a big, specific goal in whichever manner best suits you. There are no restrictions on what words you can use, or what your writing is for. It can be for a blog, a book, journaling or just for your eyes only. In all likelihood, you’ll have a combination of different reasons and types of writing you do. If you write long memos or emails, feel free to count those as well!
Why Do It;
Writing is a key ability we possess as human beings. Through it we can persuade, empower, impact and share our ideas. Even when we write only for ourselves, the act of writing forces us to focus our ideas and put our thoughts down on paper. In this way, we clarify and organize our thoughts, thus increasing our clarity of thought and bringing to light any weaknesses in our ideas.
This act of writing daily will teach us how to work towards a long-term goal, step by step and day by day. This is a skill that is essential for success in any field. Writing is simple to do but challenging to master. Anyone can write! no matter who you are, you can sit down and put in 2740 words if you are determined enough to get it done. You can even use vocal transcription software to speak your way to the result! The computer would then do the writing for you. No problem.
Writing is physically a very simple and easy task. However, on the mental side it can be challenging. Going through this challenge forces you to face your fears and self-doubt. You may think you have nothing of value to say, but after undertaking this quest you would be proven wrong.
5 Benefits Of Undertaking The Challenge
There are countless ways this can improve your life if you let it. I will boil that down to five major ones, and encourage you to pick the one that resonates most soundly with your own desires and beliefs.
Developing Great Writing Skills
It’s often said that the best way to improve at something is through deliberate practice. That’s why, during this year I encourage you to read writing books and pull out the most important things! Writing a million words is an enormous quantity, and by approaching it with the right attitude you can improve your ability by leaps and bounds.
This ties in with a study about students in a pottery class. The professor split students into two groups, and tasked one with creating one ‘perfect’ piece they’d be graded on, while grading the other group based on the quantity of their work. In the end, it turned out that the group who was graded on quantity also turned in the best quality work, too!
That’s because, as your little league coach may have told you, practice makes ‘perfect’. The phrasing isn’t entirely accurate, but the idea is what counts. In this year of writing, you will be going for ‘quantity’ and statistically you you’ll get some great quality work out of it as well. The level of quality and how much you improve, however, are entirely up to you. I encourage you to really introspect and study the art of writing in your area of interest. Study and apply in equal measure, so by the time you write your millionth word you’ll be well on your way to writing mastery!
Clarifying Your Thoughts And Goals
As previously stated, writing is one of the best ways to put your thoughts in order. When they’re still in your head, they can come and go and be jumbled around nonsensically sometimes. That’s because your brain doesn’t have the best filing and organizing system for information! It can hold a lot, but clarifying and acting upon it is a challenge if the knowledge only exists in your head.
That’s where writing comes in. Writing CAN be organized and rigorously studied for accuracy. Using writing you can share your beliefs and views. Then, once it’s down on screen or paper, it’s much easier to look at it and notice where holes in your thinking exist. This will improve your thinking and guide you towards a more knowledgeable, empirically-based life. We humans tend to be predisposed to inaccurate thinking and logical fallacies. Writing and conversation are places where these can be exposed and excised in order to live a life more in line with our goals.
Speaking of goals, it’s been proven that just writing down your goals makes you more likely to attain them. This is especially true if your goal is to become a writer. With this project of writing a million words, this leaves plenty of room for you to not just write them down, but also tweak and study them deeply. By looking rigorously at your goals, you’ll be able to ensure that they’re truly aligned with who you are and what you hope to accomplish in the nest year, or your entire lifetime. You’ll be able not just to write down current goals, but form new ones and also discover the essential sub goals that act as stepping stones towards accomplishing your massive, world-changing hopes and dreams.
Communicating With Others More Efficiently
Writing and clarifying your thoughts will make you better at communicating with other humans beings in a number of ways. First of all, your economy of language will be more efficient. With all of this language practice, you’ll become more skilled at saying what you actually mean, and better at listening and understanding the deeper meaning behind what people say. This doesn’t happen automatically, of course — nothing does. It’s something you can pursue that will be bolstered by undertaking this challenge to become a better writer and person.
Knowing what you want to say is most of the battle toward expressing yourself authentically. Writing is one of the most powerful ways to know yourself and allow others to know you. IF you don’t know who you are, how will anyone else possibly comprehend you? Long-form writing habitually over time will lead to you developing your voice as a writer, and can help you think more consciously about your voice as a human being. How you choose to express yourself forms a big part of how others see you, and writing is one of the best ways to practice choosing precisely how to express yourself authentically.
Learning Useful Information To Improve Your Life
There is an ocean of information available today. As you well know, we have the answer to just about any question we could ever ask at our fingerprints. You can create a new skill, brand or business without even leaving your chair! And what do with these nigh incomprehensible abilities we now possess? If you’re anything like me, the answer is something like ‘scroll mindlessly through blogs and social media’ half the time. Writing is a conscious activity, and the rewards you’ll get from undertaking its practice will far outpace the dopamine hits of social media and useless blogspam.
With so much information available, we have to be careful and conscious about what we learn. Writing allows you to take notes and record quotes from useful, trustworthy sources. Especially good books. Having this note-taking habit will allow us to externalize our memory, and be able to put the information we need in front of us at any given time. Being able to do this is a modern superpower. Writing a million words will lead to the development of an organizing system for those words, which will improve over time with work and consideration. In Evernote, this is as simple as creating notebooks relevant to your interests and organizing your writing based on what each note contains. This is a LOT easier said than done, but with practice you can know exactly which bucket to go to in order to find the info you’re looking for.
Reading is great, but if we’re constantly reading books on writing, business, or whatever topic we’re interested in without recording what we learn from it and important takeaways from each work, then we’re simply reading for entertainment. While reading can be a great source of entertainment, its potential for enlightenment is far more potent and useful. There’s nothing wrong with reading for entertainment. But if you have big hopes and dreams to impact thousands or millions of people, you’ll want to learn form those who’ve already done what you’re trying to do. And you WILL want to study what they tell you, and be able to refer back to it in a customized and easily accessible form whenever you need it. This is what writing can do for you.
Getting Into The Habit Of Overcoming Obstacles To Your Big Goals
Anyone who wants to accomplish significant things in life will find countless obstacles in the way. Everyone has similar goals of success and happiness in this life, but many fail to take even the first step toward it. Why is this? Because every goal has obstacles in the way. The bigger the goal, the more you have to do to earn it. Life may seem random and arbitrary, but in truth it is anything but. Spend long enough time looking at the world and studying those who have accomplished great things, and you will realize that life truly is a meritocracy.
Money isn’t handed out based on merit in many cases. Society abhors merit, and often rewards greatly those who lie, cheat and steal their way to the top. If money and societal recognition was a worthy goal, then this would be reason to doubt life’s meritocratic nature. The fact is, the worthy goals are hidden from cursory glances. The meaning of life is not in dollar bills and hedonism. People who have reached the top based on luck or deceit are no more likely to be happy with their life than you are. It’s a cliche at this point, but look at the results irresponsible lottery winners get if you want clear proof of this point.
Writing a million words is a big goal. It’s one that can be achieved in a year with some level of struggle and sacrifice, but one that is also totally doable. It’ll get you used to pushing forward daily without expectation of immediate reward. You’ll begin to understand the power of incremental, daily progress, and how over time that seemingly minor steps can totally transform your life. It’s a simple goal, and the steps to achieve it are simple as well. But the path will be anything but easy. Simple and easy are completely different things, though they might seem similar. Life is full of paradoxes like that.
To accomplish this task, you’ll need a few things.
A Method of Writing — This could be accomplished to some degree using pen and paper, but I’d highly recommend typing most of your work. Writing 2740 words by hand every day will quickly lead to pain and cramping. Even if you don’t have a computer, that’s no problem. I don’t even use my computer for writing. I’d recommend simply picking up a Bluetooth Keyboard online and connecting it to your tablet or smartphone for writing. Once that’s accomplished, there are myriad different programs to use for writing. Three that I use and highly recommend are Evernote, Scrivener, and DayOne.
The Will To Write — If you hate writing, or can’t stand reading and learning, then you might want to choose a different goal. If you’re ambivalent or have never really tried to develop a writing ability, I would highly recommend giving this a shot. Feel free to start with smaller goals before building up to the Million Word Challenge in this case. If you’re like me, and have always dreamed of being a writer, and have stacks of books waiting to be read, then this goal should be perfect for you. It’s one that will force you into the habit of writing, where you can improve and determine whether you want this practice to be a hobby or incorporate it into your profession. If you’re in the third group, you’re in luck! This program has the power to change your life if you’re willing to do the work.
How To Begin
Once you have the minimal requirements fulfilled, getting started should be kept as simple as possible. There’s no need to start a book or a blog just yet, but if you’re working on one already then all the better. I have no doubt you’ll have one going by the end of this challenge if you have any desire at all to publish your work.
To get started with this challenge with minimal friction, don’t self-edit too much and there’s no need to even have a point to your writing. You can start just by opening a new document and typing. Write out your thoughts, put them on the page and keep going until you hit the recommended word count. You’ll find that even this basic practice improves your skills and clears your mind tremendously.
Once you have the habit and skill started, you’ll be on the beginning learning curve. This is the place where improvement is fastest and skills are developed most readily, so take advantage of it! Learn as much as you can, read books and take courses. Then take great effort to apply what you learn, hopefully even on the day you learn it. This will allow you to see if what you learned works for you. It you find it beneficial, slowly add it to your writing practice. If you don’t like it or it doesn’t work for your style, there’s no shame in discarding it once you’ve tried it. You might find that you’ll pick it back up once you reach a different point in your life where it’s more applicable to your work. Writing is a fluid and malleable skill, and there are as many different styles and ways of doing it as there are people in the world.
Keep In Touch!
If you decide to undertake this quest, I wish you the best of luck in your writing journey! Feel free to comment below to let me and others follow your results wherever you decide to publish them. Drop me a line in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer any questions you may have about the process!