The challenge: Write a page a day for 365 days. The reward: 365 pages of rough drafts. It’s the only New Year’s resolution I ever kept. During that year I traveled, I worked, I got sick, I visited friends, I went to parties. I lived my normal life. And I wrote a page a day every day. I learned a lot. Here’s how I did it (and how you can too.)
Define the parameters
The goal sounds easy: Write a page a day every day. But if I had left it at that I would have failed. First of all, what is a page. 500 words? 300 words? Single spaced, double spaced? Hand written or typed? Suddenly, there are lots of ways to cheat. Once you start cheating too liberally, you lose momentum and quit.
I decided that a page was a single-spaced typed page. The word count would vary due to formatting. For example, dialogue tends to result in fewer words on more lines, which fills the page faster than description does. That was okay with me. I would use the default font in whatever program I was using at the time. The length of a page varied if I was typing on a word document versus a Google doc, but I didn’t let that bother me. The point was, my cursor needed to start on one page and end up on the next one.
If, for some reason, I had to write freehand, I decided that four hand-written pages counted as one page. (My handwriting is awful and tends to get big when I’m working quickly.)
Plan for Obstacles
I could have pretended that writing a page a day was the most important thing in my life and nothing would ever stop me from doing it. But I knew better than that. I was going to keep living my life and that meant I was going to travel and go to parties and go on adventures. That meant I had to build in a contingency plan.
The plan was simple: I was allowed to write ahead, but I wasn’t allowed to fall behind. In practice, that meant that I could write two pages today and write no pages tomorrow. But I was not allowed to write no pages today and two tomorrow. The reason was simple, if I could put off writing for one day I could put off writing for two days, a week, a month. Pretty soon I’d have an impossible backlog. Maybe I’d just start over next year.
Sick, tired, or busy were not reasonable excuses. I remember one day that I finished my page at 11:58 because I’d spent the day traveling and hadn’t planned ahead. But I did it, every day.
Tell your friends and family
Even with all of that prep I might not have pulled it off if I hadn’t told my friends and family what I was up to. In the first month or so, I had to excuse myself to go write every day. A few months in, my friends and family would look at the clock and say, “have you written your page yet?” If I hadn’t, they’d send me away to do it. They were supportive to the point of being annoying.
A few times, I toyed with the idea of quitting, but my friends and family set me straight. I don’t know if I would have done it without them. You don’t need a whole network of people, just one reliable friend who will poke you every day and ask you if you’ve written. Pick one out before you start the challenge and let them know that you’ve drafted them as your support team.
Those three things are all you need to take the page a day challenge. If you decide to do it, let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear how you’re doing.