How to write 10,000 words per day
In between work, school, family, friends, feeding parakeets, etc., it can be tough to find the time to write 2,000 words per day. But with NaNoWriMo coming up soon, a lot of people will be trying to do just that — probably drinking several cups of coffee per day in the process. But, what if you could not only easily reach 2,000 words per day, but reach 10,000 words? Is it possible? In a blog entry from a couple years ago, author Rachel Aron says how she did it:
Drastically increasing your words per day is actually pretty easy, all it takes is a shift in perspective and the ability to be honest with yourself (which is the hardest part). Because I’m a giant nerd, I ended up creating a metric, a triangle with three core requirements: Knowledge, Time, and Enthusiasm. Any one of these can noticeably boost your daily output, but all three together can turn you into a word machine. I never start writing these days unless I can hit all three.
Basically, what it comes down to is this: (1) know what you’re going to write before you start, (2) keep a log of how much you write, and (3) be excited.
1. Know what you’re going to write before you start
If you want to write faster, the first step is to know what you’re writing before you write it. I’m not even talking about macro plot stuff, I mean working out the back and forth exchanges of an argument between characters, blocking out fights, writing up fast descriptions. Writing this stuff out in words you actually want other people to read, especially if you’re making everything up as you go along, takes FOREVER. It’s horribly inefficient and when you get yourself in a dead end, you end up trashing hundreds, sometimes thousands of words to get out. But jotting it down on a pad? Takes no time at all. If the scene you’re sketching out starts to go the wrong way, you see it immediately, and all you have to do is cross out the parts that went sour and start again at the beginning. That’s it. No words lost, no time wasted.
2. Keep a log of how much you write
So, I started keeping records. Every day I had a writing session I would note the time I started, the time I stopped, how many words I wrote, and where I was writing on a spreadsheet. I did this for two months, and then I looked for patterns.
Several things were immediately clear. First, my productivity was at its highest when I was in a place other than my home. That is to say, a place without internet. The afternoons I wrote at the coffee shop with no wireless were twice as productive as the mornings I wrote at home.
3. Be excited
Every day, while I was writing out my little description of what I was going to write for the knowledge component of the triangle, I would play the scene through in my mind and try to get excited about it. I’d look for all the cool little hooks, the parts that interested me most, and focus on those since they were obviously what made the scene cool. If I couldn’t find anything to get excited over, then I would change the scene, or get rid of it entirely. I decided then and there that, no matter how useful a scene might be for my plot, boring scenes had no place in my novels.
Writing 10,000 words a day still requires a massive investment of time — the author of the blog entry writes full-time for a living. However, if you can only write for an hour a day, you can still use the three points above to go from 500 words per hour to 1,500.
Of course, this is for first drafts only, when the most important thing is just writing it. But after you have your first draft done, you can then finally get around to the business of writing your novel!