If you’ve been thinking about writing a novel, drafting a play, starting a journal or simply keeping a record of what you experienced during this strange pandemic year, you might want to start by making a commitment to get a few words down on paper every day.
Maybe a thousand of them.
For two weeks.
Jami Attenberg, author of seven novels including The Middlesteins, All Grown Up and the recently published All This Could Be Yours, is about to launch the third annual 1000 Words of Summer project, in which writers of all levels commit to writing 1,000 words every day for fourteen days straight.
It’s a little like a sprint next to the 50,000-words-in-a-month marathon that is NaNoWriMo. The barrier to success is a hell of a lot lower: You only have to write 14,000 words and you don’t have to do it during one of the busiest months of the year.
This year, 1000 Words of Summer begins on Friday, May 29 and runs through Thursday, June 11. Writers who sign up for the 1000 Words of Summer newsletter will receive a daily email offering encouragement and advice from Attenberg and other writers (previous years have included contributions from Lauren Groff, Andrew Sean Greer and Celeste Ng).
I did the 1000 Words of Summer project in 2019 and added 14,013 words to the novel I was drafting at the time. It’s worth noting that I wasn’t able to hit the 1,000-word count every day; some days I wrote fewer than 1,000 words and some days I wrote more. It’s also worth noting that writing 1,000 words of fiction took me about 90 minutes (that’s 21 hours, in total, over two weeks); I kept track of how much time I was spending on the project as I went along, and it was, for me, a serious commitment.
But the real purpose of the 1000 Words of Summer project isn’t just to generate 14,000 words over two weeks. It’s also to help you establish a regular writing habit—also referred to as a writing practice. If you only have 30 minutes to spend on your writing every day, that’s better than spending no time on it at all. If you write 1,000 words every day for two weeks and gain enough momentum on your project that you write 500 words every other day for the rest of the summer, you’ll have 34,000 words written by Labour Day. If you begin 1000 Words of Summer, miss a day here and there, and end up with 9,000 new words added to your novel, well…that’s a win, isn’t it?
If you’ve been thinking about doing more writing—or if you’ve been asking yourself how you can fit writing into your life—why not try 1000 Words of Summer and see what happens? If you don’t have a novel or similar project in mind, start by writing down your thoughts and feelings. Commit to getting roughly 1,000 words on paper every day, no matter what they are, and see what happens when you spend two weeks developing a daily writing practice.
With any luck, you’ll keep writing long after 1000 Words of Summer is over.