Virtually Priceless Thoughts

Reflections on Health, Informatics, and Research

The end of 1,000 word days

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This is a follow up to my earlier post on the challenge of writing my dissertation.

For 25 days this summer, I counted my days by the word. I set myself the task of writing 1,000 words per day on my dissertation.

That was the minimum I could write. I could write more, but not less — and no banking of words. And contrary to my earlier post on pictures being worth 1,000 words, they didn’t count.

I had to write at least 1,000 words a day.

Every. Day.

My idea was to set up a chain of accomplishments so that even when I was waning, I would not want to break the chain by missing a day. I had to reach 1,000, then I could stop and rest. Or edit. Or revise a picture. Or re-review my findings. Or do something else. Anything, as long as I wrote my 1,000 words.

25 days later and I was at the end of my 1,000 word days. The body of my dissertation was drafted. 228 pages, over 66,000 words.(1)

Calendar - Chain.graffle_ Canvas 2.jpg

This proved to be a successful approach for me to get through my draft and one I will likely use again in future projects.

I think the trick to find the right metric that is an accomplishment that is significant for a day without being overwhelming that cannot be achieved. For me, last month, 1,000 words a day worked.

Since then I have started the editing process. I have shifted metrics to a set of tasks, determined based on a review cycle and laid out over a week. Not as clean as the 1,000 word metric, but that’s the nature of editing.


1. Yes, 66,000 / 25 is more than 1,000 words a day. I was working on my draft prior to July 30th, so I had several chunks completed before I started (that I didn’t count in my 1,000).

Written by priceless

September 9th, 2009 at 6:26 am

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2 Responses to 'The end of 1,000 word days'

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  1. Hi.

    I’m glad I stumbled here.

    I’m a student in a master’s in nursing program, and my current course is IT.

    I’m posting my work here, and the current challenge is to describe the systems in use at my current facility.

    I’m gonna poke through your stuff. I know you’re busy, so don’t expect a response anytime soon.

    Good luck on your dissertation.



    5 Oct 09 at 10:28 am

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