85K Writing Challenge. 90-Day Write Cycle. Here’s how it works.

DAY 1 / Sunday = 89 Days Left in the Challenge


Happy New Year!

It’s Day 1 of the 85K Writing Challenge. The first day in a ninety-day quest to reach the summit: 85,000 new words – the average length of an adult novel.

Here’s how it works.

We’re going to write our butts off. Plain and simple. We’re going to wake up every day, for the next ninety days, with one goal in mind: writing. And dare I say, we’re going to have a good time doing it.

Now let’s get some questions out of the way.

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: Then have at it. But 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: Why January through March? A: The spirit of the New Year strengthens the resolve to write; it’s winter in the Northern Hemisphere, a good time to “hunker down” and focus on large projects; and there are no major holidays in the first quarter of the calendar year to compete with writing time.

Q: How do I track my words? A: Using the WriterStat word tracking software installed on this site and generously supported by our Founding Sponsor, WriterStat.

Q: How do I stay accountable? A: Writers on the 85K Writing Challenge are strongly encouraged to report their word counts twice per week, every Monday and Friday, in the Write Forum dedicated to word count reporting. Report using the “Monday Word Count Reports” and the “Friday Word Count Reports.” 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: An optional daily check-in location has been established in the Write Forum titled “Daily Word Count Reports.” Daily word count reports are optional. Monday and Friday Word Count Reports are required.

Q: So, the 85K Writing Challenge is also the 90-Day Write cycle. 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.

Q: How many words do I need to write to stay on track? A: 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.

Pencils ready? Let’s do this thing.



Not a member of this site? Join the 85K Writing Challenge. It’s free. Writers registered for the 85K Writing Challenge have complete access to all of the features of this site.

Day 1 Assignment: Write.
Day 1 Forum Question: There’s an “ice-breaking” question waiting for you in the “Write Forum > Say Hello – Daily, Open Chat.” We need a theme song, folks. We need a playlist.

Julie Valerie

Julie Valerie

85K Writing Challenge: Embracing the writing life by advancing the practice of productive writing from first word to first reader.

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