Last Updated on January 11, 2021 by Michael Brockbank
Last year at about this time, I announced the one million word challenge for myself. And, I had a few people jump on board. In 2021, I think we can really push a million words. And although that sounds like a massive goal, it really isn’t.
Not to sound like I’m tooting my own horn, but I used to write nearly three times this amount when I was writing full-time using content mills.
So, I know it’s very possible. And if you’d like to see how I’m progressing through the year, I have a counter on the sidebar at MichaelBrockbank.com that displays how many words I’ve written so far.
Why Write One Million Words?
The idea behind writing a million words is to find a way to motivate yourself to push out content. Whether you’re a blogger or a freelance writer, having goals can help you stay on track.
For me, it’s a form of gamification. Trying to crank out millions of words in a year is kind of like keeping score. And the focus of 2021 is actually doing better than I did in 2020.
Even though you can use the goal of a million to keep yourself moving forward, really focus on self-improvement. This means don’t be discouraged if you’re not going to meet that big number.
Instead, simply try to surpass your own capabilities. Because any level of improvement is going to benefit you in the long run.
How Long Does it Take to Write One Million Words?
The amount of time it takes you to write one million words in a year depends on a lot of different factors.
- What are the projects you’re working on?
- Is there a lot of research involved for the topics?
- Are you planning on uploading images?
- How much time can you dedicate to writing every day?
- How much proofreading do you have to do when you’re done writing?
OK, one million words may sound like a lofty goal. But instead of looking at it as a whole, break it up into manageable chunks.
For example, one million over the course of 365 days is only 2,740 words per day. If you decide to simply work on this Monday through Friday, because having a weekend off is helpful for any writer, then you only need 3,832 per day.
Now, let’s take into consideration other factors, such as typing speed, workflow management, adding images, etc.
Because I use a production spreadsheet, I have an average of how much I can do per day. This includes everything from research to outlining the article and writing.
For someone like me, who has been doing this since 2012, I would only have to spend around 3.5 hours per day. That’s taking my average of 1,100 words per hour and dividing it by 3,832.
How to Write One Million Words in One Year
The most important thing is to not feel overwhelmed. In reality, it shouldn’t be all that impossible for you to crank out a few thousand words per day.
For the most part, it all comes down to your own level of commitment. Because if this is a lofty goal that you don’t really have a connection to, then you’ll find it far more difficult.
So, how do you write a million words before the end of the year?
1. Know What You Plan to Count
Are you trying to reach one million words by blogging? Perhaps you’re working on a novel over the past four years.
Have an idea of what you plan to count when setting up your goals.
For me, it’s all about blogs, clients, novels, and video descriptions. I’ll also count posts that I make for blogging systems including Buy Me a Coffee.
This is because every word I write on those platforms works to move me forward as a professional.
And no, I will not count the posts I make on social media. That would be much too anal, even for me.
2. Establish a Daily Routine or Schedule
Getting yourself into a good flow of production is imperative. The routine you create is reflective of when you are the most productive.
Some people are capable of just winging it at night, while others are able to find a good flow early in the morning. It really depends on when you are the most productive.
Personally, I get into a good flow of writing first thing in the morning. This is after I’ve spent a bit of time working out or going for a walk…to get the blood moving.
3. Plan Out Your Projects
Having an idea of what you’re going to write next helps you keep the flow going.
This is because spending an hour or so on a Sunday night coming up with the week’s articles prevents sitting at your desk on a Wednesday morning trying to think of what to write next.
I use Asana to plan out the week complete with keyword research, points I want to make in each article, and any reference links I want to use.
Project management apps are a great way to keep yourself motivated and working when trying to reach one million words per day. Then again, you have to make sure you’re actually using them.
About 99% of success boils down to the amount of effort you put in.
4. Use Tools Like Grammarly for Workflow
You can cut a lot of time off writing if you use tools like Grammarly to help with proofreading. Though, you’ll still need to go through and edit your work afterward, as no automated grammar system is 100% accurate.
However, being able to fix your grammatical and spelling errors while you type will shave off quite a bit of how long it takes to write a million words.
In fact, this post was proofread by Grammarly.
There are a lot of grammar extensions and platforms on the Internet, so it should be easy to find one you like. I personally have the Grammarly Chrome extension, and it works great in the WordPress editor.
5. Limit the Distractions
As a freelance writer or blogger, writing from home is far more difficult than going into the office. That’s because you have a slew of distractions at your immediate disposal.
Plus, no one is standing over your shoulder making sure you’re actually working.
This is perhaps one of the hardest parts of being self-employed. But if you want to have any modicum of success, you need to find a way to limit what takes your attention from actually writing.
6. Focus on the Daily Goal, Not the Final Objective
Don’t focus too much on the ultimate goal of writing one million words. Instead, set daily goals and aim for them. This way, you don’t feel as overwhelmed by the massive number.
You could even take it a step further and break it down by hour. For instance, 3,832 words per day Monday through Friday comes out to 479 words per hour if you plan on writing 8 hours per day.
To put that into perspective, it’s only 1/3rd the size of this entire article.
What Stopped Me in 2020?
Looking back at why you couldn’t accomplish something gives you insight into how you can make changes to succeed next time. This is why I don’t believe anything is a failure as long as you learn from the experience.
It’s all part of personal growth and development.
Even though I will finish out the year close to half-a-million words, I know this goal is quite doable in 2021. So, what stopped me from meeting it in 2020?
Getting Sidetracked with Client Work
A large chunk of my time this year was taken by clients. And since a lot of the work is more editing and managing teams, I really didn’t get to put a lot of work into writing.
And now I am in charge of uploading videos, which takes even more time away from hammering out a blog post or two.
Lack of Motivation on Many Days
I didn’t always dedicate my time to client work. In reality, I found a lack of motivation to be one of the biggest issues in 2020.
But I suppose a lot of people felt that as well.
It wasn’t until recently that I found a new sense of purpose and started putting more effort into writing.
Not Taking Myself Seriously Enough
When you’re affected deeply by impostor syndrome, it can sap a lot of motivation to meet any goal, let alone writing one million words in a year.
However, I’ve come to realize that, apparently, I help a lot of people in various ways…far more than I thought.
Not taking myself seriously enough is definitely something to work on in 2021.
Too Many Excuses
And finally, I have too many excuses why I couldn’t reach this year’s goals or personal challenges.
An excuse is anything you can find to justify your actions. A reason is a valid element that does justify your actions. Well, that’s how I see it anyway.
Guess which category I often fall into?
But in 2021, that all changes. I’ve found drive, ambition, and an inner power that has propelled me for a couple of weeks now.
Here’s to an Awesome Year of Writing!
Although my one million words challenge for 2021 doesn’t start for a couple of weeks, I’m still putting in the effort today. Because in reality, 2021 is just a number.
If you don’t address the failings of 2020 today, they’ll more than likely follow you into the next year.
Let’s make 2021 something memorable. All it takes is the effort to push yourself beyond personal limitations.
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