I stumbled across novelist Jami Attenberg‘s #1000wordsofsummer challenge about 12 hours before it began on June 17. The challenge? Just as it’s named: to write 1000 words each day for a two week period. Attenberg first conducted this challenge last summer, first as an accountability pledge among writerly friends, then expanding it to include strangers from across the world wide web. Each day of the challenge, Attenberg sends a brief email to her mailing list with words of encouragement; this year, those daily emails include bonus guidance and encouragement from various other authors, including Celeste Ng.

It’s all just what I needed to get through a summer slump where I know what I need to do to work on my novel, but don’t always exactly know what to do next. #1000wordsofsummer makes it easy to decide what’s next on the writing to-do list: Write. Then keep writing. Then do it again tomorrow. (And if you want, chat about it on Twitter or Instagram as you go.)

Of course, I came down with a wretched summer cold on the first day of the challenge. But I have persevered. We’re seven days in as I write this blog post, and I’ve clocked 5847 fresh, new words. They aren’t all for my novel; instead of forcing my sick self to only focus on that one project, I’ve included things like a freewriting session about getting a roll of film developed and a draft I wrote of a conference session I’m presenting in September.

It doesn’t matter as much what I write with those words. The important thing is that I’m flexing my brain muscles and getting into the habit of writing a solid chunk of words each day, even after I’ve written hundreds for my day job writing about personal finance for a website. There’s no editing as I write these words, just movement forward. Onward to week two of the challenge. Oh, and I’m counting this blog post for 326 more words.

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