85K Writing Challenge
Year At A Glance
Beginning in January and ending in December, the yearlong 85K Writing Challenge moves through a series of productivity “cycles.” A 90-Day Write cycle, a 60-Day Edit cycle, a 60-Day Prep cycle, a 60-Day Publish cycle, and three strategically scheduled 30-Day Finish cycles.
Our flagship challenge is the challenge to write 85,000 words in 90 days.
How the 90-Day Write cycle works:
Q: Why 85,000 words?
A: Eighty-five thousand words is the average length of an adult novel.
Q: What if I don’t want to write a novel? What if I want to write a novella and two short stories? A: What you write is up to you. The goal is to write 85,000 new words in 90 days. At the 85K Writing Challenge, we embrace the writing life by advancing the practice of productive writing. Commit to writing 85,000 new words in 90 days, and you will form a powerful habit that just might change your life.
Q: How many words do I need to write to stay on track?
A: If you’re joining us on January 1st, then your writing pace is about 1,000 words per day. That’s about four typed pages. Technically, you only have to write 944 words per day. And guess what? Many days you’ll write more because the more you write, the easier it will be to slip into “flow state.” When you’re in a flow state, the words come more easily and reaching your word count goals will become less of a concern. Amazing things will happen.
Q: How do I track my progress?
A: Using the WriterStat BookStats™ Project Tracker software installed on this site and generously supported by our Founding Sponsor, WriterStat.
Q: How do I stay accountable during the 90-Day Write?
A: During the 90-Day Write cycle, writers report their word counts twice per week, every Monday and Friday, in the Forum dedicated to word count reporting. Report using the “Monday Word Count Reports” and the “Friday Word Count Reports” entries in the Forum. Under each of these entries, you will find a calendar date under which to report.
Q: What if I don’t write anything that week?
A: Even if your word count is zero words written, you still need to check-in on Mondays and Fridays, so you stay connected, and stay accountable. Being accountable in this way functions like having a personal trainer or a workout buddy at the gym – but for writing. If you reach a Monday or a Friday and you have not written since the last word count report, simply report “zero words written” and then focus on increasing your productivity before the next twice-weekly check-in.
Q: What if I need daily word count check-ins to stay disciplined?
A: You will find an optional daily check-in in the Forum titled “Daily Word Count Reports.” Daily word count reports are optional. Monday and Friday Word Count Reports are required.
Q: Why is the 90-Day Write scheduled January through March? Why not some other time of year? A: The spirit of the New Year strengthens the resolve to write. It’s also winter in the Northern Hemisphere, a good time to “hunker down” and focus on large projects. Also, there are no major holidays in the first quarter of the calendar year to compete with writing time.
Q: What happens after the 90-Day Write cycle?
A: The 30-Day Finish cycle, which happens in April. If you didn’t complete the first draft of your novel during the 85,000-word, 90-day challenge, use April to finish this task. Or, use the 30-Day Finish cycle to take a break, to recharge, or to focus on other things. Or, use the 30-Day Finish cycle in April to begin work on the next cycle in the 12-month pipeline, the 60-Day Edit cycle, which begins in May and ends in June.
Q: So, isn’t April’s 30-Day Finish cycle just an extension of the 90-day challenge?
A: No. Do not think of April’s 30-Day Finish cycle as an extension of the 90-Day Write cycle. The 85K Writing Challenge is not a 120-day writing challenge. We write for 90 days every January, February, and March. As a last resort, the April 30-Day Finish cycle allows for last minute pushes across the finish line, but you should not slow your word counts or productivity during the 90 days dedicated to writing. Ideally, your novel will be complete by the end of March, so you can set it aside and let it (and you) “rest” during April to ensure fruitful, objective edits during the 60-Day Edit.