Why One Thousand Words
One hundred percent of subscriptions (May 6-June 17, a six-week cycle) will be going to charitable donations selected by 13 contributing writers and myself.
One of the things I’ve wrestled with while doing this project over the last five years is the idea of productivity as it relates to capitalism. I sit here and tell you that the word count matters, that the numbers matter, and they do. But as this project has evolved, I can see how that is potentially slotting us all into an entrenched system, and that may not be healthy for everyone.
What I am really saying to you — as I have grown to see it — is that in terms of what you need or want to write, showing up matters, having focus matters. These books do not write themselves. There are no shortcuts. Here is a structure, here is a community. You have access to all of it. Now write.
The thousand words (or whatever is comparable in your chosen genre) is a guideline. It is my personal guideline because it has worked for me. It’s about four pages a day. If I stick to it, even with life and other professional responsibilities getting in the way, it’s possible for me to get a really messy first draft done in six months. And then, more or less, I spend the next six months rewriting it. I have published eight books, and this strategy has been effective each time. So I stand behind this premise.
And I know plenty of people who write far fewer words a day (and also those who write far more!) and they produce what they need to produce either way. It’s just a number, in the end.
But I think it’s a really good goal to hit, one thousand words. I always feel satisfied at the end of the day when I see what I’ve written. Feeling satisfied is a valuable part of the process. Doing things that encourage ourselves to keep going, also part of the process. Setting reasonable but worthwhile deadlines for ourselves. Challenging ourselves to see what we can accomplish, what we’re capable of. All of these things are tied into the general concept of meeting a goal.
And that’s essentially what I am trying to do here: help people reach their writing goals, whatever they might be. I love writing and it has opened up the world for me in valuable and important ways. What I have written has made my life better. I want that for you, too.
OK, that was my heart and my mind right there for you. That’s it. This is the last letter you’re going to get from me before #1000wordsofsummer starts this Saturday, June 4. Good luck.
You are reading Craft Talk, the home of #1000wordsofsummer and also a weekly newsletter about writing from Jami Attenberg. I’m also on twitter and instagram. I try to answer comments as best I can, which are open to paid subscribers. You can subscribe here or give a gift subscription here. (If you are a teacher let me know, and I will give you a free subscription.) Fifty percent of the proceeds will go to various cultural, educational, and social justice organizations in New Orleans (and sometimes elsewhere).