Do you love losing yourself in your story? Writing for hours on end and watching your word count rise? I know I do. If, like me, you also love a challenge, the thought of writing thousands of words in a day has probably crossed your mind—maybe even the big milestone, 10,000 words.
Writing 10k in a day is an ambitious target, not for the faint of heart, but it is achievable and it’s a whole lot of fun. If you’re up for the challenge and want to get a big chunk of your first draft done, here’s my number one tip for success: plan out your 10k day. Here’s how.
Step 1: Determine Your Timescale
Writing 10,000 words isn’t something you do in a couple of hours. It takes up a considerable chunk of the day, so set aside plenty of time for it. I’d recommend between 8 and 12 hours—long enough for you to write 10k, but not so long you start depriving yourself of sleep.
Step 2: Choose Your Hourly Target
Once you’ve settled on how long you’ll be writing for, divide your target word count (i.e. 10,000 words) by that number of hours. For example, if you write for 12 hours with a target of 10k, that’s 834 words an hour. If you write for 10 hours, 1000 words an hour. 8 hours, 1250 words an hour. And so on.
Step 3: Schedule Your Writing Sessions
Now that you know how long you’ll be writing for and how much you need to write each hour, you can start to divide each hour into two parts: writing time and resting time. Both are equally important. If you try writing 10,000 words without many breaks, you’ll burn yourself out fast. Equally, if you spend too much time resting and too little time writing, you won’t make your target. The trick is finding a good balance.
One way to do this is through doing a timed writing session. Set a timer going and write quickly and continuously until you reach your target word count for the hour (e.g. if you’re going to write for 10 hours during your 10k day, your hourly target is 1000 words). Don’t stop to edit, don’t agonise over word choice, don’t let perfectionism stop you in your tracks. Just write. When you reach your hourly target, stop the timer and record how long it took you to write that many words.
Ideally, you want to take at most 40 minutes to reach your hourly target, so that you have 20 minutes to rest before your next writing session. Practise writing quickly and continuously until you can reach your target in that amount of time or less. Once you can comfortably do that, you should have a good balance between writing and resting time for each hour of your 10k day.
Step 4: Get Support from Others
Writing 10k in a day is hard. Getting support from others won’t make the physical act of writing easier, but it can improve the mental side. Tell your friends, family, colleagues, people online—whoever will listen—about your 10k day challenge and ask them to hold you accountable. Tell them your word count after each writing session, hear them congratulate you on a job well done and use their expectations to motivate you in the next writing session.
There are whole communities out there who love to write intensively for long and short bursts. Search on Twitter using the hashtags #wordsprint, #1k1hr and #10kWritathon to find other writers who are willing to join you in the 10k day challenge. Nothing makes a challenge fun like taking part alongside others.
Are you ready to plan out your 10k day? If so, keep these final tips in mind and success should be yours:
- Make sure you have somewhere comfortable to write. Sitting in an awkward position for hours and hours on end is bad for your health.
- Move around during your breaks. Rest is important but don’t just spend your breaks on the Internet. Take a short walk around the house, do some exercises, stretch out your body—anything to get the blood flowing. Trust me, you’ll need it after a few hours.
- Get support from others. Writing 10,000 words in a day is a big undertaking. Tell others about it and get them to check up on you, cheer you on and hold you accountable. It’s easy to quit when no one knows about your challenge. Tell others and give yourself the extra incentive to succeed.
- Stop to edit. You can do that another day. Your main priority during a 10k day is to get the words down and see your story take shape.
- Hesitate over word choice. As stated in the point above, editing and polishing can be done another day. This is about getting a first, rough draft down, so don’t spend several minutes pondering how to phrase a single sentence. Write down what comes to mind and run with it. Often your best, most creative ideas come from writing this way.
- Forget about breaks. Rest is just as important as work. Try writing 10,000 words in one sitting and you’ll exhaust yourself physically and mentally. Be kind and unwind between writing sessions.
So, do you feel more prepared for writing 10,000 words in a day? Remember the four steps to planning a successful 10k day—determining your timescale, choosing your hourly target, scheduling your writing sessions and getting support from others—and part of the battle is already won. All that’s left for you to do now is what you love: write.