Wednesday, June 29, 2016

10k or Bust! 8 Easy Tips To Write 10k In a Day

When you're an author, you sometimes start thinking about productivity. There's a lot of stuff out there about having a word count goal--whether daily, or weekly, or even monthly. Something to work towards.

When I'm actively writing, I tend to have some sort of goal. That varies with the project, the day, and what I know is on my schedule. A day where I can be super-productive (usually over 3k) is rare, but getting to be less so.

So last week, my kids were gone to grandma's. I had a goal: one day, I was going to write 10,000 words while they were gone. Pretty simple, right?

Yes and no.
Photo by Flickr user Ryan Knapp

I made it. By the skin of my teeth, I clocked 10,031 words by the end of the day last Monday. I'd worked off and on towards the goal from a few minutes before 9AM to right about 8PM. (There were other things I was working on in between, and the pesky phone wouldn't leave me alone!) It was probably the first time I'd done it, maybe ever, but definitely since having children nearly 8 years ago.

I couldn't have done it if I hadn't prepared, though.

If you're going to go for a large word count goal, what do you need to do to prepare?
  1. Know what you're going to write. It's a lot easier to write when you've got a plan. Even if you're a pantser (which I am in the back 25% of my books typically, but I was working in the first 1/2 of my book) write out some goals so you can stay on task. I had an outline I referred to, and the 10,000 words came out of a very short description from that. Less than a paragraph that covered less than 4 hours of time for my protagonist, and I was good to go.

  2. Set aside the day. Make plans ahead of time that you're going to attempt a 10k day (or whatever your goal is) and stick to it. When I learned the days that I would have some free time, I knew Monday was it. Come hell or high water, I was going to go for it.

  3. Prepare ahead of time. This is different than using an outline. If you were going to run a
    Photo by Flickr user Emilio Labrador
    marathon, you wouldn't occasionally run a mile here or a mile there, would you? You'd slowly build up your stamina so you could run all 26.2 miles, right? In the days before you're going to make your attempt, push yourself to write some extra words. If you're going to go for 10,000, but you've only ever written 1,500 in a day, push for 2,500. Then do another run at 3,500 and 5,500. Prepare your brain for longer sessions of writing. You're working your creative muscles here. They need to be stretched, just like you need to stretch your hamstrings before going for a run!

  4. Accept distractions. My phone is normally pretty quiet. I get notifications for baseball updates, and the inevitable videos of my kids from my husband's mother were planned for. But that day, my phone decided to ring. I can't usually ignore phone calls (and I was expecting a few important ones) and it was tempting to just turn my phone off (and it probably would have been a good thing) but things happen, and sometimes, you have to take a break. Which leads me to...

  5. Take breaks. I had a goal. Every hour, I'd get up if I'd written at least 1,200 - 1,500 words. Towards the end of the day, when I was tired, this was a little harder to stick to, but for the most part, I stuck to it. Get up, get more coffee, take a bathroom break, do some laundry, cuddle with your pet. You may want to throw lunch and dinner in there, too! But step away every so often.

  6. Don't get upset if it looks like you're not going to hit your goal. Just keep working on it.  At one point, I had a devastating phone call late in the day. I was about 7,300 words in, and that call was a huge setback for me because it was a heavy distraction. I was frustrated, but took a couple hours and kind of poked at it here and there, talked to my editor, talked to one of my besties, and finally got my mind wrapped around the reality, and knew I'd be mad at myself the next day if I didn't try to finish the goal. That was all it took, and I got going and wrapped up right around 8PM that night, a little more than 11 hours after I started.

  7. Don't expect to do it two days in a row. Doing a huge quantity when you're not used to it is not as easy as it sounds. You will probably be exhausted by the end of the day--and you should be! You just did what you previously thought impossible! Set a smaller goal that's maybe still a stretch, but more easily attainable for the next day.

  8. Celebrate! Go have a nice dinner. Have a glass of wine, a bowl of ice cream. You earned it!
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  1. I've done this once or twice, usually during NanoWriMo. These are great tips! Jody

  2. It does take a plan, and recovery afterward.

  3. "Take breaks" and "Accept distractions" are two of the hardest for me. Once I get started, I don't want to quit.

  4. It takes a plan. Distractions are real. As one who writes almost exclusively in coffee houses (I edit at home), works a day, cares for a 91 year old father who still lives on his own and has a wife with stage 4 cancer, I have to have a plan. Life is too distracting by itself. I still manage to write a book every 9 to 12 months.