Writing 10,000 words in one day seems impossible, doesn’t it? It did to me, anyway. I was the girl who always came in last place during word wars. The underachiever. The pitiful, slothful writer who performed a miracle if she wrote just 1,500 words in one day.
But a few months ago, that all changed.
Somehow, this snail of a writer managed to type out 10,372 words in one day. And believe it or not, it didn’t all come out as nonsense. Most of those words made it into the final draft of my latest book.
So how did the slowest writer in all the lands write more than 10,000 words in one day? You only have to keep reading to find out!
Secret #1 – I Had a Skeleton
Not an actual skeleton. (I only kill fictional characters, I promise!) By skeleton, I obviously mean outline. The bones of the story.
We’ve probably all heard the term “pantsing” by now, where there is no writing plan—just wordy chaos. (I’ve mentioned it before in another one of my posts.) Though there is a fair amount of pantsing involved when trying to accumulate a large word count, for me, a skeleton was needed in order to stay on track.
When I start on a book, I usually create seven different Word documents.
- Chapter Outline
- Extra Notes
Before I venture forth to write the first chapter, I want the novel to be as fleshed out as possible. I want to know everything about the world, from the map down to the folklore. I want a relationship with my characters, to sob when someone dies and laugh when someone tells a joke. Will that put me in the psych ward someday? Probably. But each major character needs a distinct voice in the story.
I build the skeleton gradually if I’m already working on a different story, but if I’m free of other projects, I set aside a week or so for the outlining process.
Secret #2 – I Wrote Out a Schedule
If you’ve looked into Meyers-Briggs personalities at all, you know that schedules are kind of a “J” (Judging) thing. As an “INFJ”, I absolutely love to create schedules for myself, as unrealistic as they tend to be sometimes. But roughly half the population are “P’s” (Perceivers), which means schedules are harder for them to stick to. Many famous writers (J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, A.A. Milne) are thought to be INFPs.
Whether you are a “P” or “J”, I encourage you to give a schedule a try. Most of my close family members (mom, dad, sister, brother) are P’s, but it’s easier for them to stick to a schedule if they’re particularly interested in certain subject.
In any case, here’s an example of one of my schedules on a stay-at-home day. (Warning: I’m a night owl. Don’t judge.)
10:00am – Wake up, get ready
11:00am – Brunch
11:45am – Prepare to write
12:00pm – Write
1:30pm – Break, stretch, tidy house
2:00pm – Prepare to write
2:15pm – Write
3:45pm – Break, exercise, snack
4:15pm – Prepare to write
4:30pm – Write
6:00pm – Break, fix dinner, eat, and clean up
7:30pm – Prepare to write
7:45pm – Write
9:15pm – Break, stretch
9:45pm – Prepare to write
10:00pm – Write
11:30pm – Finish up and free time
2:00am – Bedtime
As you can see, it’s a pretty solitary and sedentary day, and it definitely won’t work for everyone. Feel free to modify it to fit around your life or just create yours from scratch.
As a side note, I don’t set out to complete 10,000 words on a regular basis. Usually, I try to stick to this schedule once a week. The rest of the days have an ordinary goal—2,300 words.
If you’re not too overwhelmed by now, read on! There are still five more secrets to reveal.
Secret #3 – I Prepared for a Zombie Apocalypse
Okay, not really. If there was a zombie apocalypse, the last thing I’d do is write (I’d totally be practicing martial arts instead), but I did prepare myself and my desk before each hour-and-a-half writing period.
List of things I do during the prep period:
- Have a drink at my workspace.
- Grab a snack if needed (writing while hungry is HARD).
- Have headphones to block out unwelcome noise.
- Throw phone across the room.
- Turn off internet.
- Have a notebook and pencil.
- Take a moment to review what I wrote during the last writing session.
- Quickly jot down my plan for the next writing session.
- Mentally prepare myself to focus for a long period of time.
Secret #4 – I Set the Timer
It’s tricky to track your progress when not using a program like “Write or Die”. Write or Die tracks your word count and your time and whether or not you’re on schedule. It costs about $10 for the desktop edition, which is totally worth it, in my opinion. But if you’re set on not using an outside program, a timer will help push you along, too.
For those of you who use Write or Die or are interested in using it, here are my settings:
Image: Grumpy Cat (because I’m a wimp)
Word Goal: 2,300
Victory Mode: Celebrate
Secret #5 – I Banished My Inner Editor
I’m a slow writer because I’m a perfectionist. I want a seamless story from the get-go…which, unfortunately, is impossible. The story usually takes on a life of its own, twisting this way and that because our minds are constantly learning and changing, too. It doesn’t matter how hard I labor over every little word; there will be seams.
So I found that the best way to draft a novel is to give the inner editor the boot. Kick that cranky old lady (or man) out! Not only have I found it the best way to draft, but it’s also the only way to come up with 10,000 words in a single day. I admit that while writing, it seemed like every single word I typed was complete and utter crap, but…reading back over it really wasn’t that bad. Some of it was actually good.
Nora Roberts said it best: “You can fix anything but a blank page.”
Secret #6 – I Wrote Furiously
I got the words down! And that doesn’t mean I typed “the” over and over again. I kept the scenes as interesting and detailed as possible while typing full speed ahead. If a particular scene was dragging, I skipped forward to the next one, making a mental note (or a physical note) to go back and finish the section I abandoned. A fresh mind usually sorted those scenes out later.
I’ve heard that some writers won’t even go back and edit their misspelled words. I applaud those brave, stubborn people. I, however, am not one of them. While I let some things slide—sentences that don’t make much sense, characters that I forgot to mention in a scene—if I notice a misspelled word, that sucker isn’t staying there. It probably slows me down in the end…but I’m willing to waste the time lost.
Secret #7 – I Did It Again. And Again
I’m certain I couldn’t write 10,000 words without practice. The secret to becoming an incredible writer—and yes, a bestselling author—is to write as much as possible every day. Even if you think your writing belongs at the bottom of a garbage heap. Even if you think nothing you create will ever be good.
Persistent writers are the best writers. And while I’m at it, the best writers were readers first.
So that’s it. Those are the seven secrets I used to write 10,000 words in one day.
Did my brain feel like jelly afterward? Sure.
Did all ten fingers have a heartbeat? You bet.
Did I dream of typing all night? Like a madman.
Will I keep doing it? YES. A thousand times! It’s no simple task, but the more you write, the faster you get, and the easier 10,000 words is to achieve.
My advice to you; give it a try! Even if you don’t reach the big 10k, you can probably improve your productivity by following these 7 secrets.
Have any thoughts and/or questions? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!