The smart, prolific, and all-around delightful writer K.A. Laity recently blogged about how to write more words, faster. She refers to an article on the SWFA website by Rachel Aaron that shares the method Rachel hit upon to boost her daily word count from 2,000 words a day to 10,000. That’s not a typo: 10,000 words a day. When I saw that number, my jaw dropped. Is such a thing even possible?
I’m a 1,000-words-a-day writer. That number is how I define steady progress. If I’m writing 1,000 words each and every day, I can draft a novel in a couple of months. (I tend to write short first drafts and then weave in subplots and other scenes in the second draft.) A thousand words is my daily baseline–anything beyond that goal is gravy. How would my life change, I wondered, if I could manage to write 10,000 words a day? To be honest, that number seems too lofty a goal (for me) to aspire to–the idea is pretty intimidating. Still, what if I could boost an average day’s output to 3,000 or 4,000 or even 5,000 words? I’d be able to meet my deadlines and pull some projects, those I’ve long been wanting to write but never had the time to develop, off the back burner.
Lately, I have to admit that I often haven’t hit even 1,000 words. My husband recently became disabled, and we’re both adjusting to this new reality. Extra responsibilities–not to mention the worry and anxiety–have taken a toll on my writing life. Things are getting better, though, and I’d like to get my writing back up to speed. Or even beyond what I’ve considered “up to speed” in the past.
So I’m trying Rachel Aaron’s method. Her article is worth reading in full, but in a nutshell she argues that a writer needs to have three things in place to write productively:
Knowledge: Before you start writing a scene, know what the scene is about. Take five minutes to sketch out the scene–characters, conflict, events, bits of description or dialogue–before you start writing. This helps the scene come into focus before you write it.
Time: Optimize the conditions under which you write. Know how much time you’ll need to be productive, as well as the time of day, location, and other conditions that are best for your writing. Then schedule your writing to meet your needs.
Enthusiasm: If you’re bored with a scene, it’s not going to thrill your readers. Think of ways to make the scene more interesting so you’re excited about writing it. Not only will this maximize your word count, it will improve your story.
I don’t know if I’ll ever hit 10,000 words a day. Life has made me cut back on my writing time, but this article has me thinking about I can better use the time I do have. I may not routinely generate 10,000 words a day, but I can do better. Today, I tried using Rachel’s method and doubled the word count I normally would have achieved in the time I had. It’s a good start.
And who knows, maybe one of these days I can aspire to Brian Keene’s 80,000 words in a weekend. I’ve always wanted a try a serious writing marathon…