How to write 500 words a day

How to write 500 words a day.

Today’s guest post is by Sarah O’Holla, who has found a simple, effective way to write every day.

We are living in a time when results are expected to happen fast. But what constitutes fast?

Yes, you might be able to write a first draft of a novel in 30 days during NaNoWriMo, but will it be the kind of first draft that respects your writing process? And what if you start and then can’t finish? Will you beat yourself up over the failure?

Recently, I was in a serious writing slump where I could not bring myself to work on any creative writing. The guilt surrounded me every day and yet I could not produce work. Around the middle of October, when NaNoWriMo talk started popping up around the web, I thought this is my chance to get out of the slump! However, I had tried NanoWriMo in the past and knew that over 1600 words a day was not how my own writing process worked.

I decided to try out my own NaNoWriMo by doing 800 words a day. I figured this would be a challenge, but much more doable than 1600. I also decided to start immediately rather than waiting for November. I accomplished two days of 800 words a day, but by day three, 800 words felt just as daunting as 1600.

Remember how I wasn’t writing at all before? Why did I feel this need to challenge myself so brutally? Doing something every single day is really hard. Let’s not forget this. So in the spirit of respecting my own writing process while still trying to write without fear, I decided to change my goal to 500 words a day – who cares if it would take me more than two months to write a first draft?

The result has been not only promising but also doable! 500 words a day is enough of a challenge to feel accomplished, yet not too daunting to achieve every single day. This project is helping me establish a daily writing routine and will give me 50,000 words in 100 days. And while 100 might seem like a big number, how many people have gone 100 days without writing anything because they have set unrealistic goals for themselves? I know I have!

How to Write 500 Words a Day

Here are four steps that you can follow to start your own 500-words-a-day project:

  1. Make a calendar online that lasts 100 days. Go to the stationary store and buy adorable stickers. I chose doggies and dolphins. At the end of each day write your word count and put a sticker on that day. Not only does this feel satisfying, it also reminds you to not to take yourself so seriously! I have my calendar hanging above the light switch in my bedroom so I see it all the time.
  2. Download OmmWriter (link no longer active). Plug in your headphones and use this program to get some focused writing done without distractions. I love how this program makes it really hard for me to check my email while I’m writing.
  3. Don’t worry about what time of day you write. I try and get up an hour early every day to get my writing done, but sometimes I just need more sleep or would rather be updating my blog. This doesn’t mean I won’t get my 500 words done. It’s nice to try to write at the same time every day, but if you can’t, then don’t let that stop you! Write before you go out to a party on Friday night, write after dinner or stay an hour later at work and write there. You don’t really need that much time or special circumstances to get writing done. That’s your mean you-can’t-do-this voice talking. Ignore it!
  4. Make yourself accountable. My husband knows about my 500-words-a-day goal, and I share my weekly word count on my blog. I also have a NaNoWriMo page even though I’m not participating in the traditional challenge. All of these things keep me going. I know it sounds silly, but when I think about skipping writing for just one day, I immediately think about how I’ll have to explain this to my blog readers, and so far that’s stopped me from skipping. By being an inspiration to other writers, I’m inspiring myself! And isn’t that the best way to learn?

This is what worked for me. Now you can take it and make it your own. Week one is going to be really, really hard. Week two will suddenly get easier. By week three, fitting in writing time will no longer feel like a burden. And while you will always have those days where you stop at word 500 on the dot, you will also have 800-word (or more) days. And just think about what the next 100 days might bring.

Sarah O'Holla

Sarah O’Holla

About the Author: Sarah O’Holla blogs over at where she writes about her life as a young adult writer, school librarian, and creative person. She believes that everyone has their own story to tell. Please stop by and say hello; she’d love to hear your story!

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