Have you ever thought about writing a million words in a year? What would you be able to accomplish?

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I just finished reading a book series called Yesterday’s Gone. It’s a post-apocalyptic horror story that was written in serialized form (with new “episodes” coming out every couple weeks) for each of the three “seasons” that have been created so far. One of the authors mentioned having written a million words in the last year.

That number blew my mind.

I have no idea how many words I’ve written in the last year. I’ve written 38 Kindle books and tons of blog posts, but I’m pretty sure I still have a ways to go before I’m at a million words.

The breakdown

Let’s break down that million words into something we can actually wrap our minds around. A million words over a year breaks down into

  • 2,740 words a day if you write every day
  • 3,195 words a day if you write 6 days a week
  • 3,832 words a day if you write 5 days a week
  • 19,231 words a week
  • 83,334 words a month

Now I don’t know about you, but I think that 2,740 words a day is doable. I write nonfiction, and if I know what I’m writing about, I could pound out 3,000 words a day easily. But fiction? That would be nearly impossible for me. But some people, like the aforementioned author of Yesterday’s Gone, can easily churn out 3,000 words a day of fiction.

You could include ALL of the words you write (Facebook comments, blog comments, blog posts, emails, etc.), or you could just tally up the words that are part of books, ebooks, or other projects/products.

The possibilities

Several of my ebooks are around the 10,000-word mark, and I charge $2.99 for them. You can convey a lot of information in 10,000 nonfiction words, and I feel that $2.99 is a fair price for both me as the author (I get to keep around $2 of that and Amazon takes the rest) and for the buyer.

You could write a hundred 10,000-word ebooks.

If you’re into fiction and want to write short novels (50,000 words, or NaNoWriMo length), you’d have 20 of them done after a year.

If you want to write full-length novels (let’s say 100,000 words), you could write ten of the suckers in a year.

You could write a 1,000-word blog post every single day and still have plenty of ammo left over for whatever else you want to write.

These numbers are ridiculous. Ridiculous because 1) they’re huge and 2) they’re possible.

Keeping track

There are a few different ways to keep track of how much you’ve written. These go beyond the simple word count that is in Microsoft Word, because I think we can assume that everything you write will not just be in a single Word document.

There’s a free iOS app called WriteChain.

There’s this nice little printable PDF.

There’s a word count subreddit that you could post to.

There’s this tool that you can even embed on your blog to show your progress.

I created and will be using a Google Spreadsheet that automatically adds up my monthly and total word counts and then subtracts the total word count from 1,000,000. Below is a screenshot, and you can download the .xls file (which you can use in Microsoft Excel or Google Spreadsheets) here:

My word count tracker

My word count tracker, with a few sample numbers filled in.

You could create a new blog to document your progress or just keep a journal. How you do it doesn’t matter as much as just doing it.

Final words

The point of this blog post isn’t to get you to write a million words. It’s not to tell you that I’m going to write a million words in the next year (because I don’t think I will). The point of this blog post is to get you and me to write more. Whether you’re blogging, writing a book, or creating a course of some sort, writing is essential. And those things don’t write themselves.

As for me, I’m definitely going to start writing more and keeping track of how much I’ve written. I’m going to spend more time writing, and I’m going to keep track with my Google Spreadsheet. (Follow me @TristanHigbee on Twitter if you want to follow my progress; I’ll tweet out screenshots every once in a while.)

Now, you might say that you don’t have time to write 3,000 words a day. I believe you, but I do think that 1) you have time to write more than what you’re already doing, and 2) you can make even more time. Wake up an hour earlier to write. Stay up an hour later. Write with your phone while you’re on the toilet. Write on your lunch break. Dictate into a voice recorder when you’re in the car.

Write every single day, keep track of what you’re writing and how much you’re writing, and it’ll be impossible to not wind up with a fat stack of content before too long. The numbers add up. Whether you want to write a million words or simply want to write more, just do it. Start.