I originally posted this on my author blog. But writing 10k in 1 day was such a growing experience, I wanted to share with my writing friends as well. I hope you’re able to glean from my recent writing adventure and above all, are encouraged to finish your own manuscript!
How I Wrote 10k in 1 Day
How often do you sit down for your writing session with lofty goals, only to watch them fade away into obscurity (or social media…) For the last two years I’ve found I can square away around a thousand words or “1k” an hour. So if I manage to sneak in two hours a day, I write around 2k. This isn’t a bad number at all. And honestly, I still have days I barely eek out a few hundred words, let alone thousands. It depends on where I’m at in the creative process. If I’m writing the first draft, I have freedom to “free-write,” no matter how cringe worthy. Now, because I’m me, I always end up reviewing what I wrote the next day with little tweaks and edits along the way. I’ve heard different people say different things about this.
Some will tell you, “never revise before you sit down to write because editing utilizes a different part of your brain.” By that logic, you should save revising for draft 2. While I agree this method can help (especially if you’re nervous about moving the narrative forward), I don’t totally agree that writing and editing should be separate. Keep in mind this is all subjective. What works for one author doesn’t work for the next. The best thing you can do is take a little bit of advice from different authors and editors. Try out their different methods of writing/outlining and then do what works best for you. Ask yourself, what helps you write the best book you can? Now what makes you feel like you’re pulling teeth? You get the idea 😉
After two years of really attempting to hone in my craft (following four years of whatever suited my fancy —don’t recommend), I’ve figured out my basic method.
Since I have a toddler and work during the day, I usually write at night. This is important too. You need to find the best time that works for you, whether that’s 5 AM before everyone wakes up, or late at night. A time where you have the least amount of outside distractions always works best. (unless you’re like most screenwriters and prefer to hit up your local coffee shop) Time and place matter, because it’s all part of building your routine. And trust me, you won’t see an increase or consistency in your output unless you forge a routine.
Most nights I review/revise what I wrote the night before, then write around 2 thousand words. Some days I may need to do more brainstorming and linking to points in previous chapters, or planning for future chapters. Reading and revising a bit along the way helps settle me back into the mindset and mood of my characters and the setting. Otherwise I run into the danger of writing a connecting scene that just feels off. The bonus of revising while I write means I have fewer drafts to write in the long run.
In 2015 I stared a writing log for each manuscript I was working on. I’d put in my time, just like a job, hours total and date. Then I’d total up word count for each session to see how I progressed. Plus, I kept a notes section for additional scene notes or sudden ideas I’d have for the next section. Writing is such a fluid thing. George R.R. Martin likens his writing as to a garden.
Using a writing log was the perfect accountability for me. I’m a lists person. I need to have things written down either in front of me or in a doc on-screen I have to look at every day. Close second to aiding productivity is sharing chapters with a beta reader or critique partner. (More about those here)
The other week, I faced a major time-crunch in my manuscript, when I realized I needed to write multi-chapters in a single writing day to meet my deadline. I’ve heard of full-time authors doing nothing but writing, much to my not-so-secret envy. But I had no idea what that would feel like until I enlisted my mom to babysit the toddler and got cranking. I wasn’t sure how many chapters exactly I would need. I had come to the point in my story where I realized I just needed to write until I gave the ending its due.
SIDE BAR: Never put a word-count restraint on yourself, unless you have a penchant for chasing random plot bunnies like I used to. If you have a well-woven, fully realized story, tell your story. Don’t worry about going beyond your expected word count. I fully believe numbers don’t matter nearly as much as your story. We care about numbers, but readers will hate your story if you don’t give them a satisfying ending.
So how did my writing day go? I finished everything in my book except for fine-tuning the final chapter and rewriting the epilogue. I started around 10 A.M. and (including breaks) wrote until 10 P.M. Total writing/revising time was about 10 hours for a whopping 10,038 words = 35 pages. I wrote so much that I gave my hand cramps. Hadn’t felt that kind of hand strain since I used to practice piano 1 hour every day. Besides the sheer shock value it also showed me how some authors are able to write so many books per year. Now I need at least one of these “writing days” every week and I could easily write a book per month.
Moral of this story is, you never know what you’re capable of until you do it.
Most of you already know I’ve been working hard on Silver Hollow rewrites the last year. What you may not know is the total word count for this revised & expanded edition is around 142,100 words, maxing out around 459 pages. This goes way beyond the original Silver Hollow, even though I cut unnecessary “filler” scenes this time around. The book is split into six parts, another factor I didn’t foresee. Not that I’m clairvoyant mind you, I just had this “idea” of what the revised edition would be.
Originally I thought, oh, I’ll just cut unnecessary fluff, tighten up scenes and update dialogue. Well, about midway through I realized that the book could be so much more if I was willing to go beyond the original story. If I was brave enough to bring in elements I didn’t have the skill to write the first time. I went for it, because in this case I figured “go big or go home.” Well, we certainly went big, but by taking risks it truly exceeded my expectations. I’m so fricking happy with this edition I can’t wait to share it with y’all. And I can’t wait to get started on the sequel 😉