Look, this is basically a list of 100 Things Every Writer Should Do Before They Die. How many have you already done?
Some of them are pretty ambitious — reading 100 books in a single year is difficult, no doubt. While others like “write fan fiction” or “go to a reading” have a much lower bar.
So scroll through this list and tally up how many of them you’ve accomplished already. This is a tough list, so even getting 30 or 40 is an accomplishment. Only authors pretty advanced in their careers will be able to check off most of these.
And then make a separate list of at least ten that you’re going to work toward for the next year. See, a bucket list always works as a brainstorming session to help you come up with goals: how can you nail a higher score on your bucket list for next year?
And I know, I know — you probably want to know what I got, as a reference point, so I won’t keep it a secret.
I’ve been around the block quite a bit in the writing world, yet I only got 65. Can you beat my score?
At the bottom, compare your scores to others, and then post your score. And if you have an idea for any other bucket list items, please add them in the comments!
100 Bucket List Items for Writers
- Own 1000 books
- Win at NaNoWriMo (Write 50,000 words in a month)
- Earn 6 figures from your writing in a year
- Receive a fan letter
- Learn to write shorthand
- Fly internationally to research a book
- Speak at a conference
- Publish a book
- Win or be a finalist in a writing contest
- Write daily for a year
- Go to a writing residency
- Compose a Writing Manifesto
- Get an Agent
- Fire an Agent (or be fired)
- Interview an author
- Take a literary pilgrimage
- Visit the gravesite of a famous author
- Celebrate Bloomsday (Worth 2 points if it was in Dublin!)
- Read 100 books in a year
- Finish writing a book
- Sell the film rights to your book
- Win a literary award
- Get a review from a major newspaper
- Have a stranger recognize you as an author in a public place
- Have a stranger ask you for an autograph
- Get a blurb from an author you respect
- Get paid for writing a book review
- Teach a writing class at a university
- Teach an online course in writing
- Publish your second book
- Land a spot on a bestseller list
- Write on a long train trip or subway
- Visit a famous bookstore or library in another country
- Mentor a teenage writer
- Be mentored by a writer
- Start/join a book club
- Read a book longer than 800 pages
- Get a book autographed by your favorite author
- Buy an expensive journal
- Go on a blind date with a book (buy a book blindly)
- Make a meal based on a recipe in a novel
- Write under a pseudonym
- Write fan fiction
- Write Erotica
- Self publish a book
- Write fan mail to your favorite author
- Throw a literary-themed party
- Get a selfie with your favorite author
- Buy a typewriter
- Edit a fellow writer’s book
- Build a Little Free Library outside your home
- Take an online course in writing
- Visit a printing factory to see the process of book creation
- Write a guest blog for a literary blog
- Read a banned book
- Celebrate the Icelandic holiday of “Jolabokaflod” by giving everyone books for Christmas
- Attend a literary reading
- Spend $50 in one visit to an independent bookstore
- Do a reading at an independent bookstore
- Participate in a pitch fest on Twitter
- Outline one of your favorite books
- Start a literary social media feed (blog, Facebook group, Twitter, Instagram)
- Have an author website
- Memorize a poem
- Write while intoxicated
- Get a writing mascot (an object, figurine, etc).
- Stay up at least two hours past your bedtime reading
- Write something using Oulipo techniques (obstructions/limitations – like each word has to start with a consonant).
- Claim you’re going to quit writing
- Blurb your friend’s book
- Read a book series that is more than 6 books long
- See your book on a shelf in a bookstore
- Get a 6-figure advance
- Have a relative pitch you a book idea
- Go on a book tour
- Join a writing group
- Own at least one book-themed item of clothing
- Write in an odd point of view (2nd person, 1st person plural)
- Boycott Amazon for at least a month
- Bet money/honor on the Nobel Prize for Literature
- Pay for freelance editing
- Walk out of a boring seminar/reading
- Donate money to a literary cause
- Write using dictation software (or have someone transcribe you)
- Learn a new language for your book (or create a language)
- Write a book more than 100,000 words long
- Buy an antique/rare/signed book for more than $40
- Get ghosted by a literary agent
- Write with a quill or expensive pen
- Pay for an annual membership to a writing organization (AWP, SCBWI, EFA, etc)
- Judge a literary prize
- Quit a writing group
- Do a personal writing retreat for at least a weekend
- Get professional headshots to promote your writing career/book
- Read a favorite book at least 3 times
- Love a movie more than the book it was based on
- Publish in an anthology/ Edit an anthology
- Start a literary feud
- Translate a book
- Write a scathing book review
1 – 29 — You’re a baby writer, but the good news is that you have so many experiences ahead!
30 – 39 — Okay, you’re getting started as a writer. Nice.
40 – 49 — You think this is bad, but it’s actually pretty decent. You’re living the writing life.
50 – 59. — Respectable! I like you very much.
60 – 69 — This is very impressive. Your future is bright.
70 – 79 — Clearly you are a master of the writing world.
80 – 89 — Can we elect you president of the universe?
90 – 100 — You deserve the Nobel.
Please post in the comments your score and add any bucket list item that I’ve missed!
Write Better Books.
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