How To Write Half A Million Words In A Year

It seems like a lot! Half a million words in a year? 500,000 words in 365 days? Yes, that is 5 followed by 5 zeroes! Can one person really write that many words in one year? No, I must surely be kidding. Maybe I have had one too many cups of excellent pumpkin spice latte.

No, it is not a joke. Yes, it is not only feasible, it is easily achievable. Many people are already doing it. In fact, I am working on my first half million as we speak (or write). And boy, am I excited about it!

How to write half a million words in a year

You see all I have is one year before I have to return to being a breadwinner in my family. As darling as my husband is for supporting me in my pursuit of entrepreneurship, my time for delivering results (that’s cold hard cash to pay the bills) is fast approaching. What else can I do but ratchet up my productivity? I am stretching my capabilities to the maximum!

The first year has been chock full of lessons and connections. Not that it wasn’t work. There were plenty of skills to be acquired and myths to be busted.

Do you remember your first year in grad school or employment? How long did it take you to adjust to your new lifestyle? This past year reminds of my first year in Grad school. There are many similarities between being an entrepreneur and a (impoverished) grad school student. In those days, if I wasn’t learning, I was knocking on professor’s doors to persuade them to give me an research assistantship. :P

Anyways, now that my so-called freshman year is over, it time to crank down the distraction and crank up the volume! This year, it all about the work! Nothing but hustle from dawn until dusk, baby!

What do you write about in half a million words in a year?

When anyone declares that they want to be a writer, there is much speculation around what they may choose to write. Although one day I would love to create an amazing universe of characters that will never be forgotten, I am too freaking busy now to even think about it.

Instead I have leapt into consulting. Yes, I can’t stop raving and writing about consulting!

Write About Your Passion

If you are a techie like me who feels stifled in an employee position, check out the tips I offer on my other site. Why any chooses to become an employee when they can consult and grow their income year after year is beyond me!

My knowledge and income grew by leaps and bounds when I was audacious enough to switch companies, learn new skills and deliver projects. That is exactly what I want you to do!

Everyone needs to be thinking about acquiring the RIGHT skills and honing them. I have tons of great articles planned for that site. I will also be publishing an eBook and other products that you can purchase right on my site. They are sure to guide you on your consulting journey. By the way, if you are a business owner in need of process and technology advice to set you up for success, check out my consulting packages!

Write About Your Big Milestones

Have you noticed my series of 17 posts? I am celebrating 17 years in America this year! When I boarded my first Transatlantic flight back in 1996, I had no idea (or desire) to remain in the US after graduation. I planned to be working with the Indian government on Air pollution measures. You know changing the world by eliminating one ppm of pollutant at a time.

I am glad I stayed, because becoming an American has opened so many doors for me. I came for the education but stayed for the freedom (and love). I will be releasing an eBook with gorgeous pictures of American beauty I have curated over the last 17 years. Be sure to check back in for my “Ode to America” eBook. There won’t be any singing, I promise!

I also have other consulting and Red Gram Living products in the works. So keep an eye out for them as well!

How can you write half a million words in a year?

Let’s discuss my plan for delivering half a million words in a year. Did you get goose bumps? I did :)

Let’s break down the math. In order to produce half a million words in a year, I need to write at least:

500,000/12 ~ 41,700 words per month!

That is approx. 10,000 per week!

Allowing for days and weeks spent in other pursuits, I need to keep my productivity high at 10000 words per week. That’s 10 to 15 solid hours of writing per week, not to mention the pruning!

I am well on my way to cracking that first 41,700 and here is how I plan to do it:

Adjust Your Attitude

Every goal has to be smart and part of being smart is changing the attitude towards hitting that deadline. I have to deliver my goal within the next 12 months (by 9/30/14) because I have no other choice.

I am adopting the attitude proposed by Agatha Christie herself, one of the most prolific writers of all time.

There was a moment when I changed from an amateur to a professional. I assumed the burden of a profession, which is to write even when you don’t want to, don’t much like what you’re writing, and aren’t writing particularly well.

— Agatha Christie, An Autobiography

Moments of inspiration or exhilaration are far and few in between. What it is takes is skill and the actual task of writing.

I am prepared to make sacrifices to achieve that goal. That means forgoing recreational activities and cutting back on my reading. It also means skipping the occasional lunch. But that’s something that we have all had to deal with even in our cushy corporate jobs, right?

I believe that with the right attitude any goal can be accomplished, even writing half a million words in a year!

Find A Space

In order to be a prolific writer, you must have a space that you can designate as your own for writing.

Initially I believed that a change of scenery might act as an incentive for a higher level of output. Sadly that didn’t work for me. I work best in locations where I can hear my own inner voice  – either my home office desk or at a library.

Other environments such as a trip to the lovely Maymont park, a drive down our Interstate or a bike ride in my own neighborhood serve to bring clarity to my ideas. However they are not conducive to writing.

Have you tried writing while driving? Not surprisingly, it is quite hard!

One more thing, find the time that works best for you. Some people are early birds while others are night owls. Find the time when you can hear your thoughts clearly and words flow effortlessly.

Select Simple Tools

Choose tools that work for you. Just as with space, everyone believes that using fancier tools might motivate them to write more often. It didn’t take me long after I tried 750words.com to realize that I didn’t need badges or support forums to write. I need to shift my attitude and start building up a backlog of ideas.

Now I use WokFlowy.com. It is a fantastic tool for outlining all of your projects. It is not a To-do list, nor is it a project management tool. It is a simple one-dimensional way of viewing all of your ideas, in my case writing ideas.

If I need a greater depth to my ideas and need to view various dependencies, I use XMind. It creates beautiful mind maps that are versatile enough to be used for anything from writing projects to consulting efforts.

Streamline Your Process

I have written before about the importance of establishing a process that will aid you in your goals. The process doesn’t have to be elaborate. It just has to take you from beginning to your next milestone. My current writing process looks like this:

  • Create a list of ideas through WorkFlowy
  • If needed use XMind to develop Mind Maps
  • Start documenting snippets of ideas and thoughts in Evernote
  • I proof all articles in Microsoft Word before I format and publish.
  • I love to use Apple’s iBooks Author to create visually appealing eBooks.

An important fact to keep in mind when it comes to process is that writing in itself is nothing more than a task. The fuel for your writing is derived from ideas and thoughts that must come first.

Your ideas need to be clearly defined before you can approach the task of framing them in words. As the saying goes, there is no cure for a blank page. Blank pages come from blank minds. To write half a million words in a year, pursue ideas that beg to be written.

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.

— Stephen King, On Writing

No Wishing, Only Shipping

Once you have written your post or article or eBook, then it is all about delivery. There are various recommendations about the process leading up to delivery. I simply have one golden rule. I always let something percolate overnight before publishing. I never publish after midnight (unless you scheduled it ahead of time); something is bound to go awry.

There are also numerous pesky tasks related to publishing such as proofreading the preview on your CMS platform. Adding the relevant graphics can also be time consuming. Once you are through with all those tasks, your only job is to hit “Publish”. The only milestone worthy of a writer is a published article.

Writing evolves over time. As you publish more often, you will gain greater clarity on your style and increase your output.

You start into it, inflamed by an idea, full of hope, full indeed of confidence. If you are properly modest, you will never write at all, so there has to be one delicious moment when you have thought of something, know just how you are going to write it, rush for a pencil, and start in exercise book buoyed up with exaltation. You then get into difficulties, don’t see your way out, and finally manage to accomplish more or less what you first meant to accomplish, though losing confidence all the time. Having finished it, you know it is absolutely rotten. A couple of months later you wonder if it may not be all right after all.

— Agatha Christie, An Autobiography

Don’t Forget The Posterior Adhesive!

The last item that you need to write half a million words a year is a good posterior adhesive. You simply plant your derriere in your chair and write until you are done!

What is the point I ask?
The only thing real was
My writing
Without it I am fighting
My mind it is a cave
Writing the only light within
Without it I am nothing
I have to let go
No more wishing
Only shipping
Words on a page
Someday they’ll be magic I made…

— Kay Fudala

That is my plan for writing half a million words a year. What is yours? Leave a comment below!

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