The 500 Words-A-Day Challenge: Are You Game?

This is a guest post by Rebecca Maxwell of Fly By Books

Back in March of this year, I started the 500 Words a Day Challenge. The challenge is fairly straightforward: all you have to do is write 500 words every day for a year.

I discovered this challenge after coming across a website for Boise’s Novel Orchard, an organization that supports local writers, and also found more information on it from another blog called Inkygirl.

As an aspiring author, I wanted to take the challenge to get myself writing and possibly launch into a new direction for my life.

Nevertheless, when I first considered taking the challenge, it felt daunting. A year is a long time to commit to doing something every single day.

I knew that there would be days where I didn’t feel like writing. I knew that life would get in the way sometimes. I couldn’t guarantee that I would meet the word goal. Most importantly, what would I write about?

The Real Challenge

Here is what I experienced at the beginning of the challenge:

  • It was hard to just get started writing. For the first couple of weeks, I just didn’t want to sit down and write.  Either I had other things going on or just felt lazy and distracted. Once I started writing, though, the words began to flow, and before I knew it, I had written more than 500 words.
  • There were days when I just wanted to get it over with. At first, I felt like I had to write something just to mark it off my to-do list. To be honest, that still happens occasionally when my desire to write is less than stellar. But at the beginning, the challenge just felt like another obligation.
  • I had difficulty finding things to write about. When I sat down at my computer to write, I often found myself at a loss for what to write about. I tried just journaling but some days that didn’t amount to much. To begin with, I started with simple writing exercises such as book summaries and random thoughts about different subject.

Overcome The Obstacles

It’s been almost two months since I started the challenge, and so far, I am blowing it out of the water! Not only have I been writing at least 500 words a day but many times I have written much more than that.

Needless to say, I’m extremely proud of my accomplishments and for sticking with it. I still have ten months to go but this challenge has impacted my life in a way I never thought possible.

Here is what I discovered after two months of meeting the challenge:

  • I look forward to writing every day. That’s right. I discovered that I actually love to write and that it is invigorating. I usually wake up with a pressing urge to write and express myself on paper. One of my first thoughts in the morning is, “I get to write today!” It is no longer a chore to write but it has become enjoyable.
  • I discovered the reasons I love to write. Over the past few weeks, I found that writing is energizing to me. Not only is it the best way I express myself, but it is cathartic and allows me to vent and get ideas out of my often cluttered head. If I don’t get my writing time in, I grow agitated.
  • I have more ideas to write about than I ever imagined. I have so many new ideas for topics I could write about that I don’t know what to do. Oftentimes, I find myself coming up with more ideas on what to write and hurriedly put them down in a notebook to come back to later.
  • I can write more and more every day. At first, I started off being able to only write 500-1,000 words. However, with each day I did it, I kept writing more and more. The second week I wrote 2,000 words on average. The next week I could write 3,000 words a day and so on. I think my all-time record stands at over 6,000 words.
  • I have jump-started my writing career. Through the challenge, I have gotten ideas for magazine and newspaper articles as well as other writing projects that could pay off in the future. I am getting my first-ever article published in a magazine soon, and I wrote that article as part of the challenge. As part of the challenge, I also finished the first draft of my first book that has publishing potential.

Are You Game?

So my challenge to you is to take this challenge and see what happens. You never know where it might lead.

Here are some tips for taking it on:

  • Schedule time to write. Find the time that works best for you but mark it off in your calendar. Life will threaten to get in the way but you will have to make time. I noticed that the best time for me to journal is first thing in the morning but my most productive time is in the afternoon.
  • Give yourself a break. The point of the challenge is not necessarily how much you write but to get you to write a little every day. If you don’t meet the challenge a few times, don’t beat yourself up about it. Don’t try to make up for it by writing more. Just commit to start again the next day.
  • Find an outlet for your writing. I started my blog, Fly By Books, to be an outlet for the challenge. Many writing ideas end up on there. My blog also gives me motivation to complete the daily challenge by giving me ideas for posts.
  • Be creative with what you consider as part of the challenge. I count all sorts of things as part of my daily writing goal. I have included emails, letters, journal entries, blog posts, texts, tweets, book reviews, poems, articles for magazines, narrations for videos, and class notes as part of my writing challenge. Anything goes. It’s up to you to decide what to include.
  • Keep track of what you write. Since beginning, I write down how much I write and what I have written that for. If I feel discouraged, I go back to the list and look at how much I have done.
  • Commit to it. Life will get in way. Some days you will not want to do it. But make time for it by getting up a few minutes earlier or going to bed later. If you find yourself bored or with a little extra time, put away the phone and write instead. By doing these things and being creative with what you count, it can be done.

This challenge has benefited me immensely. It has given me something to strive for, and I have something to look forward to each day.

When I go to bed at night, I feel an immense sense of accomplishment. I discovered that I love to write. Most importantly, I feel like a writer. I am a writer.

Share With Us

Are you game enough to take the challenge?

About the Author: Rebecca Maxwell is a book addict, writing geek and aspiring author. She blogs over at Fly By Books.


2 Replies to “The 500 Words-A-Day Challenge: Are You Game?”

  1. Thanks for writing this. I’ve had a hard time trying to jump start my writing. Tried the Morning Pages but 3 pages intimidated me each morning. 500 words a day sounds more palatable. I will start today.

    1. @Trina Whatever works for you! Isn’t it so interesting how “3 pages a day” can seem intimidating and “500 words a day” not so much, when they’re really pretty much the same thing 🙂

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