One sentence per day

Write one sentence per day, every day of the year. Here's why and how.

I’m not immune to making grandiose plans for the New Year – in fact, I think the planning is half the fun – but a quieter goal kept nagging at me: I need to get back to writing consistently. I call myself a pen-to-paper processor; writing out my jumbled thoughts brings clarity better than anything else. In the past, though, I’ve been something of a binge writer. I could write pages at a time when I itched to work through something, then go for months writing nothing. Writing page upon page is cathartic…except that when time is tight, it’s easy to keep making excuses so that the pages stay unwritten. So, in the name of consistency, I came up with this goal: write one sentence per day.

Why one sentence? After all, one sentence per day doesn’t get you far. But one sentence is too small to skip. Almost any excuse sounds silly – “I don’t have time.” It takes literally less than a minute. “I don’t have anything to say today.” That’s a sentence, isn’t it? “I broke my hand.” Well, one sentence isn’t too much to ask of your non-dominant hand. “I almost died.” Okay, that’s a legitimate excuse.

Of course, once you have one sentence down it’s hard to stop there. You don’t usually manage a complete thought in one sentence; that’s what paragraphs are for. That’s the second reason I chose to write one sentence per day; once something’s on the page you’ll usually keep writing. I haven’t stopped at one sentence yet. (Yeah, it’s been less than a week. Small victories, right?).

As simple as this goal is, I still felt it required a few ground rules. Here they are:

  • The sentence must be personal writing. This should be obvious, but I’m good at finding loopholes in my own plans, so I’m closing this one up front.
  • Write the sentence first thing in the morning. This guarantees that it gets done, rather than putting it off and off and off… Of course, writing at other times of the day is still allowed and encouraged.
  • Let it be what it is. Admittedly, I still harbor some grandiose fantasies for this little goal, like having a publishable short story squirm its way out of my daily writings; and some smaller fantasies, like finding great blog post ideas in my journal. But none of those things are the goal, and if nothing comes out of my one sentence per day but journals full of rambling, I’ve still done what I intended.



What about you…are you a pen-to-paper processor?

What keeps you from writing consistently, and how do you overcome it?

12 Comment

  1. This is so me. I love writing in a journal and just getting those thoughts down and out. I love that you committed to one per day, and doing it in the morning.

    1. Hannah says: Reply

      I can’t say I “love” it yet, but your comment gives me hope that I will get there 🙂

  2. Megan says: Reply

    Yes I am 100% a pen to paper person. I agree with you, once I start writing a sentence I can’t stop. I have found journaling to be such an amazing stress reliever.

    1. Hannah says: Reply

      That’s what I’m hoping for!

  3. This is such a great idea! I’m definitely a pen to paper person and I feel like this goal will have you writing SO much this year because one sentence always leads into another!
    Kristy from Southern In Law recently posted…Recipe: Vegan Apple Cinnamon Baked OatmealMy Profile

    1. Hannah says: Reply

      That’s the plan anyway!

  4. Goodness, January went so quickly I didn’t manage to stop by until now. My apologies and thank you for linking up!

    I love this idea. It won’t take long, but come the end of the year, you’ll have 365 sentences to represent your year.
    Ange // Cowgirl Runs recently posted…Hello February! My Goals for the MonthMy Profile

    1. Hannah says: Reply

      Seriously, where did January go? Thanks for the reminder to link up for this month 😉

  5. Laura says: Reply

    I love love LOVE this goal! I’m a huge fan of making the goal something small to build momentum, knowing that you’ll probably end up going bigger when you actually do it 🙂
    Laura recently posted…Race Report: Winter Six Pack #3My Profile

    1. Hannah says: Reply

      It’s totally working so far!

  6. […] One sentence per day: still on track, as you can see by my super high-tech tracker. I think my minimum so far is actually three sentences. My longest entry so far is one page, which is about 200-250 words; because yes, I’m the kind of person who makes a word count estimate for handwriting. And keeps track of the min/max lengths of my journal entries. […]

  7. […] started a daily journaling habit, but quit about halfway through the year. Probably 80% of my entries were some variation of […]

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