Thoughts On 500 Consecutive Days of Writing

Yesterday evening, I hit a new milestone: 500 consecutive days of writing. I’ve gotten used to writing every day. It has become a part of my life, but still, 500 days without missing a single day seemed pretty remarkable to me. But when I woke up this morning and checked my data, this is what I saw:

500 days of writing

During this 500 consecutive day writing streak, I:

  • Wrote 447,399 words.
  • Averaged 895 words per day.
  • Spent, on average, 36 minutes per day writing
  • Spent a grand total of about 300 hours of my time writing.
  • Wrote 5,384 words on my single best day
  • Wrote 20 words on my single worst day.

Practical ramifications of writing for 500 consecutive days

Technically, my 500 consecutive days of writing is a subset of my overall effort to try to write every day. I started this effort back in February 2013, and all told, I have written 643 out of the last 645 days. The last day on which I did no writing was July 21, 2013, when I was traveling home from the Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop.

The obvious question to ask of a streak like this is: has it helped you improve your writing? I think that is most certainly has. Of course, it is hard to be objective in this regard. I tend to think I am one of my toughest critics when it comes to my own writing. But there are some more objective ways of looking at this.

1. More sales

In the 21 years that I wrote between 1992 (when I started) and just before I started writing every day in February 2013, I sold a grand total of 8 stories and articles. That comes out to about 1 sale every 3 years.

Since my consecutive writing streak began in July 2013, I have sold a grand total of 11 stories and articles. That comes out to 1 sale every 45 days.

Put another way:

  • Not writing every day = 1 sale every 1,100 days
  • Writing every day = 1 sale every 45 days

I cannot find any more concrete evidence that writing every day has helped me enormously. It certainly does not mean that there is not room for improvement. But the fact that I have made 11 sales to markets that pay at least professional rates (some quite a bit more) tells me that my work is good enough for the editors of those markets.

Writing more means producing more, and thus having more things to send out, but it also means I am practicing my craft every day and (hopefully) getting better at it with each passing day. This in turn ups the quality of each thing that I send out.

2. More confidence in my abilities

I have now been asked at least half a dozen times to produce something for an editor on spec, and each time, I have turned it around quickly, and what I produced was good enough for the editor to buy and publish.

I can do this, in part, because I know that I can write every day, and I know about how much I can write each day. My focus isn’t on whether or not I can produce, it is on the subject at hand, and how to make it as good as I possibly can. This does wonders for my confidence in my abilities. But it also demonstrates that editors are more confident in my abilities as well, and that feels good.

The next milestone

I’m going to give you all break and not make as big a fuss of my 600 or 700 consecutive day milestone. Nor will I make much of a fuss over my 730 consecutive day milestone (2 consecutive years worth of writing). Instead my next personal milestone will be 763 consecutive days. Because Barry Bonds currently holds the all-time career home run record of 762 home runs, and I’d like to see my streak extended beyond that for the next milestone. That’s in 263 days, so you can expect a post on that milestone somewhere around August 24, 2015.

“Take a day off already!”

I’ve been hearing this more and more lately. I think the intention behind it is good natured. People–especially people who are not writers–see this streak as work, something that I do begrudgingly. But nothing is further from the truth. When you love to do something, you want to do it all the time. Then, too, writing is my stress valve. On days when I write, I feel less stress, and more relaxed after I finish writing than I did before I started. This is true even on the days when the writing is particularly hard and frustrating.

I imagine most people who have some sort of streak going get this kind of reaction from time to time. Cal Ripken, Jr., during his 2,632 consecutive game streak must have heard from family, friends, players and other to take a rest for a day. But why take a rest from doing something you love. If, at some point, it is no longer fun, they’ll be plenty of time to rest. For now, I want to see if I can keep improving my writing, and in turn improving my sales.

I haven’t yet done my writing today, which would be my 501st consecutive day, but it is still early, and I’ve grown comfortable with my routine. I have no doubt that the streak will continue and we’ll be here talking about it again in August 2015 when I pass my next milestone.

In the meantime, for those who want to follow along, you can find my realtime stats over at open.jamierubin.net.

4 thoughts on “Thoughts On 500 Consecutive Days of Writing

  1. I’m sold. I actually did NaNoWriMo this year to permanently wedge myself back into the daily writing habit. It hasn’t stuck, but you just gave me a little boost. The increased sales were the kicker…

  2. HUGE Congrats. That is a wonderful milestone and speaks very highly of your discipline and overall character. Best wishes on breaking Barry Bonds’ record. After that, perhaps you’ll shoot (and surpass) Sadaharu Oh’s mark of 868. Again, way to go!

  3. I loved this post.

    There’s no doubting the wisdom of J.J. Demmings adage that ‘What gets measured gets results.’

    Whilst this has worked swimmingly for me in areas as diverse as selling and swimming, it had never occurred to me to do it for writing.

    You’ve set a high bar but so also did Roger Bannister some years ago and look what happened.

    Many thanks.

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