I was talking to a writer recently who had set themselves the goal of writing ten words a day in 2021. That might seem like an odd goal to have (“Ten words is a sentence or two! It adds up to about one chapter a year! Why not be more ambitious?”) but we talked about the rationale behind it, and it actually makes a lot of sense.

How often have you set yourself a goal to write 1,000 words a day, or 500 words a day, or even 300 words a day? And how many days did you keep it up for? How many days did you miss before you declared your daily word count goal a ‘failure’? For some people, those more ambitious goals work well, but some of us don’t do well by putting pressure on ourselves.

The thing about writing ten words a day is that it is almost ridiculously easily achievable, and as such it’s incredibly easy to fit those ten words into your day. Even on those full-on days when you seem to be rushing from one place to the next, you can find a minute or two, last thing at night, to write ten words and pat yourself on the back.

But the real secret of the ten-word goal is that, more often than not, you’ll probably find yourself writing more than ten words. Once you’ve written that sentence or two to make up those ten words, you’ll know what the next sentence is going to be, and the one after that, and the one after that. And you might as well write them down while you think of them.

Ten words can easily turn into a hundred words, or 500, or even more. And because ten words a day is so easy to achieve, you’re far less likely to ‘fail’ repeatedly, and therefore far more likely to keep it up. Setting yourself a word count goal of ten words a day is a pretty smart way to establish a regular, long-term writing habit.