Last week I completed the writing stunt “1,000 Words of Summer”. Author Jami Attenberg started it a few years ago, pledging with a friend that they’d each write a thousand words every day for two weeks. Their simple accountability agreement went viral, and is now an annual event.

My own writing has been pretty steady lately, but slow. One morning each week I go to a coffeeshop before work and write until it’s time to come home and clock in to my remote job. I often intend to carve out more writing time in the evenings and on weekends, but wind up being too busy, or too tired, or both. Or at least that’s what I tell myself.

So I read the 1,000 Words of Summer book, and subscribed to the Substack newsletter, and braced myself. It struck me as a lighter version of NaNoWriMo: just two weeks instead of a full month, and fewer words per day (to write 50,000 words in a November you have to average 1,667 daily words). I thought: I’ve done NaNoWriMo (once), I can do this. Can’t I? I faced the start date, June 1, with worry and a protective shield of ambivalence. We’ll just see; if I don’t do every day, there’s nothing lost.

And then I did it. Every single day, I frickin’ did it. I didn’t always feel like it, but even then I sat my ass down and started. I’ve done that plenty of times before, and some of those times I’ve gotten my ass back up a little while later and given up. On each of these fourteen days, I got going, and, happily, kept going.

The clear, simple goal of 1,000 words made it easier. In a sprint mode like this, for me, the first and last point of the exercise is putting down new words. Are they great words? Are they even good? How many of these will survive revision? Does this idea path I just started down fit logically with that scene from yesterday? Where the hell did this new character come from, and where will they go? Not allowing those questions enables momentum, and avoids all of the harder thinking, planning, and deciding that can stall out a regular writing session.

It’s also just fun, winging it and charging forward like that. Some ideas feel like they come out of my fingers more than my mind, the way they just pop out. I tend to be a plotter, but I also know I can get fenced in by that. This exercise shows the power of being a pantser, even if only in bursts.

I’ve come to realize, however, that the stuff that goes along with 1,000 Words of Summer (and NaNoWriMo, for that matter) doesn’t do much for me. There are communities of people on social media, forums, and Slacks, and there are the books, and for 1,000 Words there’s a daily inspirational email from Attenberg and other accomplished writers. (The book is a compilation of past years’ inspirational emails.) Nothing against those; they just don’t do anything for me. Thanks but unsubscribe.

I’m not going to try to continue this pace – the other thing I found is that I was mildly burned out after day 14 – and I’m not sure how much of these 14,606 new words will remain in this novel, but I’m glad I did this stunt. It reminded me that I can actually sit down and write, even on days when motivation is thin. It also reminded me to worry less about each scene fitting in perfectly, and to have fun.