The Million-Words Project

 

The short version: It’s a thousand words a day (minimum), every day for a thousand consecutive days. The topics are selected with assistance from Wikipedia’s ‘Random Article’ button. As such, most of the research comes from Wikipedia, and since I am needing to balance quantity with quality, it is subject to error. This is not journalism, it’s an experiment. Part of that experiment is on myself, part of it on the veracity of Wikipedia. If something needs to be fixed, write me an email and tell me why.

The long version:

In an effort to overcome procrastination, harness my motivation, and further my education, I decided I needed a project. This site is that project.

As of the launch of 1000words1000days.com, I am 36, married, have two teenage kids and four hapless bulldogs. I am about a year and a half (if all goes well) from finishing my return trip to University with a degree, and I load paper trays and create pretty little books nobody reads for the Alberta provincial government. I live in Edmonton, mostly because I have to. And I love to write. I am a Creative Writing minor at a school that is not equipped to offer a Creative Writing major. As this is what I am best at, writing was to be the obvious choice for a project.

I decided it would be an interesting challenge to write at least one thousand words every day for one thousand days. In order to really bookmark this goal in the timeline of my life, I thought having Day #1000 fall on the day before my fortieth birthday – meaning my next true day off would be on said birthday – would add a nice poetic flair to the whole thing. I did a little math, and it turns out that, in order for Day #1000 to fall on September 26, 2014, that would mean Day #1 would land squarely on January 1, 2012. A new year, a new project. This was getting so poetic, it was almost turning shmaltzy.

I needed to establish some guidelines, or some rules to govern this fiasco.

  1. Each entry will need to be at least mildly entertaining. I don’t want to put down 1000 words in a diary-like entry, whining about my life and reporting on my day. Nothing against personal blogs, but I want to make people laugh. So keeping it interesting is a must.
  2. I want a fresh topic every day. My plan is to visit Wikipedia, then select a random article. That will be my subject matter, or at the very least, my jumping-off point. I’ll allow myself to skip over stubs; some Wikipedia articles are hardly more than two-line blurbs, and I’d rather stick with actual proper entries.
  3. My writing style is mainly Creative Non-Fiction. This gives me the freedom to speak in my own voice, add my own color commentary, and steer within waters where I’m most comfortable. That said, I might do an entry as a fiction piece. Maybe I’ll do one in haiku. I’m open to playing around with the format, as long as I hit at least 1000 words and as long as it’s not boring. I hope.
  4. I will write 1000 fresh words every day. I won’t be throwing together a stash of emergency “busy-day” articles, nor will any of my practice entries be used.
How can I prove that I’m not cheating with a bunch of pre-written pieces? I probably can’t. But cheating is off the table. I’m doing this to truly become a writer, to conquer the mental blocks that keep the words locked away from my fingertips, and to really feel like I’m accomplishing something before I’m forty. Even if it’s something nobody else reads, I’ll still have it and it has to be real. The way I see it, if I’m willing to put my quality of life and my personal relationships on the line by stretching out my day to find time for 1000 words, then why not my integrity? Honesty and legitimacy must be pillars of this little experiment, or else the whole thing is a waste of time. A cheat.
With the help of Tony, a wonderful friend who is probably not fully convinced that any sane human would undertake this kind of endeavor, I’m hoping to get this site just how I want it before January 1, 2012. I will have a section in which I’ll chronicle the ups and downs of this mess. Those updates may not come daily, but I think detailing the journey is as important as the journey itself.
I’d like to pre-thank my family (Jodie, Colton, Abbey, and the four beasts: Rufus, Yoko, Bethany and The Bean), Tony, and my future self for having accomplished this. Also, Howard Hessman.
One thousand words, one thousand days. A million words on a thousand subjects. With any luck, I’ll learn… something.