Blog Highlights: How to Write 10K in One Day

For the grand opening of this blog, I’m spotlighting some of my favorite blog posts and moments from over the years throughout the month of June.


Week One: Writing Tips and Advice





First posted on March 3, 2011

See the original post at:


When I was tweeting my ongoing word counts this last weekend, someone asked how I was able to write so much in a day. My under-140-character response was “Bribes and threats and being srsly neurotic about setting personal deadlines.”


Which is completely accurate, but maybe not that helpful.


The truth is, I’m not sure that being capable of writing upwards of 10,000 words in a day is necessarily a good thing. I’ve done it before which means I know I can do it again which means I too often let myself slack off and not write way more often than I should, because I know I can make up those weekly or monthly goals later—all at once.


Major writing sprees can be really fun and allow for a huge sense of accomplishment, but they’re also mentally draining and make for bad ergonomics (12 straight hours in front of a computer is never a great idea), and tend to produce really crappy material . . . even for a first draft.


My point: It’s much smarter to spread it out and learn to be disciplined enough to write regularly during your normal life.


However, if you find yourself in a bind and need to write a lot in a short period of time, or if you just think it sounds like a fun challenge (in which case, awww, you’re crazy like me!), then here’s how I do it.


Step 1: Learn to type really fast. (Pick-pecking your way through 10,000 words will be a huge try of patience).


Step 2. Know how fast (or slow) you write and schedule in the necessary amount of time. When I’m on a roll, I write about 1,500 words an hour. But I know that during these sprints there will be hours where I’m only getting 800 to 1,000 words an hour, so I try to give myself at least one hour per 1,000 words.


Step 3. Prioritize. Know that for this scheduled period, you are writing. You are not doing dishes or folding clothes or stopping to watch Glee on Hulu. You are writing.


Step 4: Be prepared. Nothing stops the flow of words like reaching a point in your story where you have no idea what happens next. This is one scenario where I think having a general outline or plot summary would help even the most adamant anti-outliner. Figure out what scenes or chapters you’re going to write beforehand so you won’t be stuck staring at a blank screen during valuable typing time.


Step 5. Plan Your Breaks. Because you will need to take breaks! I think 500 words is a pretty good stopping point. Write 500 words, check twitter. Write 500 words, stand up and stretch. Write 500 words, go get a snack.


Step 6. Speaking of snacks . . . have them handy! I like to have something for my hands to do while I’m figuring out what to say next, and snacking on grapes or nuts seems to help. Also: water. Stay hydrated.


Step 7: Tweet or blog your progress. Announcing your intentions and telling people how it’s going will not only keep you accountable, it will also encourage you to take note of your progress and give yourself the occasional congratulations. As you see the words adding up, it will give you motivation to keep going. This is also great if you have another friend writing with you (in person or virtually), so you can cheer each other on.


Step 8: Reward yourself! The fun part! Have a plan for what you’ll do when you hit your goal. Space out in front of your favorite TV show? Open a bottle of wine? Go out to dinner or order a pizza? Having something to look forward to is always a good motivation tactic.


Bribes, I really do love them.


If you have a free day and decide to give it a shot, let me know how it goes!