500 a Day (FAD Challenge) in Review

01 Feb

On December 1st, 2012, I started a mini writing challenge proposed by fellow blogger, Shannon M Howell. The challenge was to write 500 words a day for 62 days, (Dec. and Jan.). On one hand that’s a lot fewer words than the 1,667 a day required during NaNo. However, it lasts for twice as long. I thought the number was something I could hit. Also, different types of writing were acceptable, blog posts, magazine articles, Christmas letters, etc. However, the main focus should be on the current WIP.

First the bad news. I missed my goal of 31,000 words. 😦  The reasons, Work, holidays, flu, sound like excuses so I won’t bore you with them.

Now for the good news. Over the past 62 days, I have averaged nearly 350 words a day, added 12,000 words to my WIP novel, and have a good start on a new project. I knew that I don’t write fast. That’s why I never tried NaNo. However, I found out that when my mind and the keyboard do get in sync, I tend to average 500 – 800 words at one sitting. Apparently my mind thinks in blocks of this length. If I then take a break, I can come back a little later (time permitting) and turn out another 500 – 800 words.

The numbers listed above are all well and good. However the best part of this challenge is what I learned about myself as a writer. I found that lunch hours and quiet Saturday mornings at the cabin are my most productive times to write. I am more creative when I am pantsing a scene versus writing from an outline. However, I produce more words from an outline. Either way, I usually write the bare bones of the story during the first pass. Revision is where the five senses are added to description and the plot tension is enhanced.

Having more than one project to work on is good for me in the long run as I get inspired from one story and it carries over to the other one. Also, an epiphany hit me when I realized that evil characters are actually fun to write. Believe it or not, this was new territory for me. It’s about time. Now I can really get going on the middle section of my WIP. “Run thief, run.” Mwaahaahaa!

Most importantly, the experience created some writing habits that I can carry forward. My blog posts have become more regular, for one. Writing every day is not as important as writing on those days when I have determined that I should. However, I do try to write something, even if it’s only 100 words, every day. I’m still working out the best time for me on weekends when I’m not at the cabin. She who must be obeyed stated that if necessary she would start sending me to my room. 😉 You’ve seen my room. That just might be the winning ticket.

All in all this was a good experience. Those who tackle NaNo have my respect, but I will not be joining you in November. I could be talked into the FAD challenge again. Shannon, are you with me? Maybe we can drag some others along for the ride.

Armed with the knowledge gained during this little exercise, I made some realistic goals for 2013. Confidence is high that this year will be a good writing year for me.


Posted by on February 1, 2013 in Musings and Odd Thoughts


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9 responses to “500 a Day (FAD Challenge) in Review

  1. robincoyle

    February 1, 2013 at 10:58 am

    Since my writing has stalled (aside from occasional blog posts), maybe I should take on this challenge. Good for you, Dennis.

    • Dennis Langley

      February 1, 2013 at 1:02 pm

      I did it primarily to start a writing habit. In that regard it was a resounding success. I know you had some other things going on recently, but if those have calmed down a little, It might be just what you need.

  2. annewoodman

    February 1, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    Dennis, I love reading about other writers’ processes. It sounds like you got a good start to 2013… and you learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t.

    I need to get back into my WIP! Maybe your success can inspire me.

    • Dennis Langley

      February 1, 2013 at 2:32 pm

      You go girl! Matt Wright at has a great post today regarding word count and other writing tips. It fits right in with my post. let me know what you think.

      • annewoodman

        February 1, 2013 at 7:05 pm

        Nice. I hadn’t read his stuff before. I’ll keep reading to find out more; thanks for the suggestion.

  3. 4amWriter

    February 4, 2013 at 5:39 am

    I’m still recuperating from NaNoWriMo. I told myself that I need to not do so many challenges in 2013 as I noticed they took up time that I should have been writing my novel. However, I do appreciate their value and recognize how they can help a writer immensely. Sounds like your experience was a success!

  4. Dennis Langley

    February 4, 2013 at 9:15 am

    I do not know how you did NaNo. I would need to take the entire month off from my normal job and I’m still not sure I could do it. If I do another one of these “minis”, i would devote all of my writing time to my WIP. The blog would suffer, big-time. But for now, i like that I have a better idea as to how I write and some goals that make sense for me.

  5. SJ Main

    February 7, 2013 at 3:36 am

    I would love to finish my book in 2013 (it’s barely started!) – here’s hoping! Like you, I do not write quickly. I wrote a novel last year and because I had a deadline for finishing, I made myself a spreadsheet with the remaining dates in a column and a new wordcount target for each day. I only targeted myself to do 500 words a day. It really helped and I exceeded my target. However having said that it was the end portion of a novel and I knew where I was going and there was no research to do.

    • Dennis Langley

      February 7, 2013 at 8:25 am

      This is the first year that I am actually setting some writing goals. More than word count, I’m focusing on finishing scenes. My storyboard is filled with scenes that need to be written. Some are very short and some may take their own chapter to finish. When I run out of scenes to write, I’ll start the revision process.


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