Starting today, September 1st, 2020, I am beginning my journey striving for a million word year. Yes. One. Million. Words. Am I crazy? Most definitely. Will I succeed? I certainly hope to. 


MILWORDY (MilWordY or milwordy) stands for Million Word Year. The original challenge was created back in 2009 by someone with the username Dunya/Dunya-Zade. The current version of MILWORDY is being run by Kate Cavanaugh on YouTube and runs from September 1st to August 31st. There are a few different ideas as to why the challenge was created, but the sparse articles I found all seem to agree the advice came from a quote from one of the great writers of yesteryear. However, you choose to look at it, trying to write a million words in a year is a huge endeavor.

Why I'm striving for a million word year:
"Write a thousand words a day and in a year you'll become a writer."

Why a million word year?

Many of us have heard the quote by Malcolm Gladwell; “What does it take to become an expert or master performer in a given field? [ten thousand] hours of practice.” If we were to take ten thousand hours of writing, the kind of writing that is sustainable, i.e. some distractions and struggling to find the perfect word, then I would say 100 words per hour is a good average. Yes, there are times when I can get over two thousand words an hour, but others I struggle to get two. It all depends on my mental health and how much time I spent planning the scene(s) I’m writing. Doing that math, 10,000 hours x 100 words an hour = 1,000,000 words. Since there are only 8,760 hours a year, or 5,840 waking hours, I’m not technically doing ten thousand hours of work, but an equivalent amount of work in a year’s worth of time.

It Takes 10000 Hours Of Deliberate Practice To Become An Expert

Malcolm Gladwell

So, am I actually going to strive for a million word year?

The short answer, yes. The long answer? It’s complicated. While it is one hundred percent possible to write a million words in a year of new material, that is not something I can feasibly do in regards to my current writing and editing goals. So, to complete everything I want to in a decent timeline (2020 be damned), I am not only counting drafting words, but editing words, rewriting words, outlining words, and brainstorming words. Any words I am actively working with to make better, I will count. This includes my fiction words, non-fiction words, blog posts, and even social media posts (not responding to comments though). 

Aren’t you a freelance editor? Are you counting client words?

I am a freelance editor and I will be counting client words, but they will be tracked separately. I want to know how many words I work with a year, my own, and those I help edit. It will be interesting how many more words I work on for my clients than my own. One day, that might change, but for now, I’m enjoying personally helping other writers achieve their dreams.

That’s all awesome! How are you going to track all your words?

While I’m the type of person who enjoys writing things down in notebooks, I wanted a place where I could easily edit/move things around and also calculate my word counts accurately. I also like to access my stuff wherever I am. Hence, my choice of tracking is Google Sheets. I have separated everything into months and also have a monthly overview that updates whenever I update a day. The idea is to not only see how many words I work on in a day but also where those words come from.

What do you hope to gain out of a million word year?

My goal for MILWORDY is to learn how to track things better and get a better handle on the amount of time I spend on client work versus my own. I love working on client manuscripts, but I also want to work on my own. I want to not only write and share stories with the world but also create a space where creators of any type can come and get inspiration or tips on how to navigate melding business with creative pursuits. My biggest goal for MILWORDY, aside for trying to write a million words in a year and becoming a better writer for it, is to learn to work more on my own things; to have a better balance between personal and client work. One day I even want to add pages read and hours spent on my phone. 

Alright, you’ve sold me. How can I join?

If you’re a writer, you can sign up with Kate Cavanaugh here. If you are a creation of another type, artist, songwriter, dancer, musician, etc., I challenge you to come up with your own quantifiable of ten thousand hours broken into a year’s time. Please let me know in a comment below or feel free to tag me on my social media if you do.