Monday, April 15, 2013

Writing Over 20,000 Words in a Day

I wasn't sure I would ever get here.  Honestly, when I started writing again, squeezing out six thousand words in a day burned me out.

But this weekend, I set a goal for 10,000 words during a 24-hour competition of word wars. After getting woken up by cats at 4:30 am, I started writing.  I managed 1,600 before crawling back into bed (it was 5:00 am, could you blame me?). I woke up again at 7:30 am, a more appropriate time.  I wrote.  I didn't stop writing until my dearest husband made us breakfast - then I only stopped to eat.

By 4:00 pm, I finished my novelette, a semi-comedic dystopian.  It stands at 19,380 words.

Since I hadn't broken 20,000, I switched gears and wrote a few more thousand for No Sugar Coating.  My grand total of the day was 21,968 words.

A lot of people commented on my status updates and said I was a machine (okay, maybe I said that I was a machine).  I kind of felt like it that day.  My fingers kept writing in this weird autopilot.  It was my writing and me, nothing else came into play.

It was a little bizarre to finish the entire novelette in one day, almost like I had watched a friend grow up in the span of nine hours.

I wanted to share some tips on how I made this possible.
  1. If you have a significant other, get him/her to support you for the day (like making food).  You may owe them a few back rubs.  If you don't have a partner in crime, be prepared with meals you can heat, eat, then resume writing.
  2. Outline, outline, outline.  I'm usually write by the seat of my pants.  A lot of writers do this, and I used to love doing it.  But I've seen the light. Outlines can really save you from making weird little plot bunnies that don't end up going anywhere.  They can also help you stay focused.  I wrote 2,000 words in my outline.  2k for a 19k piece seems excessive, but my characters stayed on track.
  3. Read over your outline the night before.  In fact, you should be thinking about your story almost constantly in the days leading up to this! 
  4. Give yourself a reasonable goal.  Pass it.  Then keep writing.  I started with 10k.  Once I finished that and saw how early it was, I said, "I can do this."  Set my next goal for 15k.  Finished that, still had time.  So 20k it was.
  5. Don't sweat the small stuff.  You will have grammatical errors and probably a lot of typos.  This is your rough draft.  It does not have to be perfect.  Can't think of the right word?  Find a quick filler and keep going.
  6. Reward yourself.  If you achieve your first goal, you should allow yourself to do something that you don't normally do or buy a little something for yourself.  In my case, I bought more books.  (ALL THE BOOKS).
It's possible.  It takes a lot of focus, some fun and friendly competition, a super supportive group of people (thank you husband and members of the G+ community!!), and tons of motivation.

Any of you have big writing goals planned?  How do you approach a full day of writing?

Oh, and be on the lookout for upcoming news of my novelette.  I plan on releasing it in July, but there will be plenty of sneak peeks and information before then!