Posted by: Casey Lybrand | August 16, 2010

Across the Finish Line: 1,000 Words a Day for a Month

I accomplished two big writing goals this month: I finished the first draft of my MS, and I wrote 1,000 words a day for a month. [1] These goals go together!

Finish Line

Finish Line by jayneandd, on Flickr

When Layla Messner threw her 1,000 Words a Day for a Month Challenge out there last month, I thought it would be just the thing to motivate me to finish up my first draft. I crafted my own goals for the challenge, and included working on my outline as needed: on days when I wrote 1,000 words for something other than the novel [2], I also spent an hour working on whatever plot problem was holding me up.

I found that these goals not only helped me with the plot issues I was having, they also motivated my to get the writing done in the MS if at all possible. Less work for the day that way!

I finished my first draft before the challenge was through, but I also blew past the ending before realizing it. A few missing scenes later, 1,000+ words at a time, and I had a completed first draft.

A lot of encouragement to keep going with the 1,000 words a day – from Layla and other folks participating in the challenge, from people here on the blog, and from other folks who noticed what we were up to with #1kWds [3] on Twitter and cheered us on – came along with getting out there in public with a writing goal. [4]

I am less surprised (because I already knew people could be awesome) and more humbled (because people can be awesome) at all of the wonderful support I’ve gotten for 1,000 words a day and finishing my first draft. You are all amazing! Thank you.

What I’ve taken away from this experience is that persistence works and community is there if you are open to it.

How did you make it across the finish line for your first draft? What other big writing or writing-related goals have you accomplished that you are really proud of?

Cross the line into the footnotes:

1: And boy am I glad I’m done and taking a writing break right now. These Prop 8/Marriage Equality set-backs get to me like nothing else does. I struggled to write each day news came out from the court — good news, but always with a stay. I’m not shocked by the Ninth Circuit’s stay on Walker’s decision overturning Prop 8 (which means the marriage ban is still in place for now), but I am so disappointed that my heart is physically hurting from the sadness.

2: Have I, perhaps, mentioned that I am working on a zombies-at-spaceports short story? ‘Cause as it turns out, I am. FYI.

3: Layla came up with a new tag for editing: #EditGoal.

4: My hardest day of the month was last Wednesday. I was nearing the end of the 1,000 words a day month, and a number of little life things came up unexpectedly all at once. I didn’t finish my daily writing until after 11:00 PM; I got the Word Wednesday post for that day (which isn’t included in the creative writing word count) up just before midnight: still technically Wednesday!


  1. Maybe this goal stuff would be the cure for my writer’s block. I can’t think of a word to write. Even comments are hard to squeeze out. Ha!

  2. I agree with Carol Ann, I am having trouble putting words to paper. My goal is much smaller than yours, but proving to be extremely challenging.

  3. Congratulations for accomplishing all this Casey. When I wrote my first draft, I felt I had to be very isolated so I kept the fact I was writing to myself, only my father and best friend new so the only thing that truly kept me going was actually my boy, and my desire to write down the story he was narrating to me, because that is how it felt for me.

  4. Zombies at spaceports? Yes please!

  5. Carol Ann, I find setting goals really works for me: it’s almost the only thing that works reliably for getting my writing done. If you want a counter to track your goal, the one I’m using (which Layla found and pointed out) comes from the Writertopia Toolbox. I’m so glad you commented even though words are hard right now. Best of luck with your writing!

    luckyandhappy, I think having a smaller goal is great. When I pick up writing again in September, I’ll be aiming for 300 a day, five days a week. Good luck with your writing! I hope words-to-paper becomes easier soon. :)

    Oh, Alannah, that is so beautiful. I love that you are writing your novel for and about your boy. I am working on getting more out there about talking about my novel in my non-internet life. I can really understand not telling anyone beyond your closest confidants about your first draft work. Thank you so much for being so supportive and encouraging!

    Hee! Kieran! Hopefully there will be zombies at spaceports soon! I plan to rewrite and edit the short story as a side project/break from MS editing.

  6. This is the most fantastic news!!! Congratulations Casey- this is a mile stone and I have to tell you, you are my muse! You set up goals for yourself and you were persistent, disciplined and you made it. You did an excellent job my friend :)

    I completed the first draft exactly the way you did- I set myself a goal; 1000-1500 words a day and in 5 months I had my first draft! If only I could do the same for revision…

    And a zombies-at-spaceports short story?! Sounds awesome! :)

  7. Thank you so much, Lua! I have to admit, more than once while finishing the draft, I thought, “Just finish the thing! Then you can be editing and writing short stories like Lua!”

    The 1,000 words a day for a month is something I’ve done before — though I’ve never done it over a several-months stretch. That is amazing! Wow!

    I’m still trying to figure out goals and revision. I think the time-per-day can work. We’ll have to see. I may add in number of scenes and/or chapters at some time.

    Zombies at spaceports! I am so happy! It was a silly idea which has turned into a really-not-so-silly story. :) Thank you!

  8. You’re so amazing for doing every single one of your 100O wds a day days, Casey! *cheers*

  9. Thank you, Layla! You have been just awesome! You had a great month as well, including lots of editing. *cheers for Layla*

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