100 Words

100 words each day. That’s the goal.

I have almost started a blog for a few years now. I get going with a post, and then the impetus to finish just kind of peters out.

So I’ve decided to take another tack: Just write consistently each day.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then is not an act, but a habit.” - Aristotle

Why 100?

100 words per day is a manageable goal. Writing that much takes me just a few minutes each day. In fact, once I get started, I usually end up writing a lot more.

It all adds up, though. If I write 100 words a day, I should be able to get a 700 - 1500 word blogpost out every week or two, on average. Over a year, it adds up to over 36 000 words, which is quite a body of writing. All without setting that lofty goal.

Since writing 100 words is a small, doable task, it also allows me to include the writing as part of a daily routine. While I find it difficult to carve out a slot each week to write a blog post, I can easily start the day by writing 100 words.

Doing it this way gets me in the habit of writing. It’s much easier to start a small daily habit than keeping to a goal that is a year (or even a week) away.

Measure it

At the outset, I knew that I needed a consistent, fair way to measure my progress on this habit. The only way I would stick to it is if I get a reminder of my actual progress each day.

Because of the tools I use to write this blog, all the blogposts are plain text files with minimal extra markup. A simple one-liner gives me a total word count of all the files, and this is what I use to track progress. There is some content that is autogenerated, but that accounts for maybe 2% of the count. The simpler, the better. With a running total adding up to a hundred words a day, I can easily check my progress.

Of course, since I can program, I scripted a small logging system to keep track and chart my progress, just so that I have a pretty graph for motivation. This is something I did for a previous project and could easily adapt to my writing. Gamifying the process does help.

Each day, or on demand, I get a listing with the wordcount of each draft blogpost, a total wordcount and the target wordcount for the day. This gives me an easy overview and focuses my attention on fleshing out the last details of an almost-done post, or encouraging me to jot down some thoughts on a hardly-started one.

Unpublished content counts

At the moment, I’m 64 days into the project and still keeping to the goal, although I have only 4 published posts. Since every post starts off as a draft, I can get a whole bunch of things off my mind and in writing without having to publish any of it. However, since I’ll be writing about half a novel every year, at least some of it should make it out into the world.

There is a deeper reason behind this, though: By not forcing myself to write for immediate publishing, the words flow more freely. Because I am only aiming for quantity, I bypass my self-limiting perfectionist tendencies and just get the writing done.

Of course, this means that I’ll be writing some material of low quality. However, I strongly believe that the best way to write better is to write more.

Some recent things I found online, confirming this: